Friday Fives: 5 Ways to Boost Your Creativity Right Now

Kimberly Burghart November 21, 2014

Every Friday, Myron Mariano, Senior Website and Graphics Developer at Miles Technologies, will bring you five tips and tricks about the latest happeings in the world of web and graphic design. This week’s tips are the best ways to stay creative. 

Are you in a creative slump? These five tips will help you bust through a plateau.


Get a good night’s rest

How many times have you found yourself in a difficult, almost impossible situation, which magically sorts itself out the second you catch some shut-eye? If you find that it happens more often than not, it is because getting adequate and quality sleep directly affects your performance. A study published by the National Sleep Foundation found that people’s productivity levels are at their most optimal if they get seven to nine hours of sleep every day.

As a corollary, taking a quick nap—provided your workplace allows it or you’re able to sneak out during your break—is equally helpful. A study published in Nature Neuroscience found that subjects who took naps showed improvement in their performance and learning, similar to someone who had a good night’s rest.

So catch some zzz’s. Whether it’s at your desk or at home, a well-rested body is a creative body.


Step outside

The sun does more than give you a nice tan during the summer. Researchers from the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago found that subjects who worked in offices without windows fared poorer in productivity than their sun-soaked counterparts. This is due in large part to the sun’s ability to coax the body’s internal circadian biological clock.

A well-regulated clock, controlled by the part of the brain that responds to light and dark signals, allows for the body to establish a healthy pattern of telling you to feel sleepy or to feel awake, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

By essentially reminding your body that it’s supposed to be awake, you will coax it to alertness. This, in turn, helps in clearing your mind.


Watch that YouTube video

Been stopping yourself from viewing the week’s best Vines because you might get accused of slacking off? Tell your boss that you’re trying to think out of the box. An article written by Paul McGhee, Ph.D., sates that humor is one of the most important contributors to increasing the level of one’s creativity. “Laughter [breaks] people out of the box and [helps] create a frame of mind that generated a lot of good ideas on how to proceed,” says Dr. McGhee.

Research dating back to the 1950s documented a close relationship between humor and creativity. Scientists found that people with a better sense of humor tend to be more creative, and people exposed to humor before a standardized test of creativity had better scores.

In an office environment, you’re more likely to think creatively when you do not feel that the pressure is on. Obviously, this cannot be expected all the time—there are deadlines to be met, after all. However, by giving yourself the opportunity to emotionally distance yourself from the problem, through the mechanism of laughter or indulging in a joke, you shift away from the usual way of looking at things, and come back to dealing with the issue from a different perspective.



Scribblers, rejoice—filling the margins of your notebook is not a fruitless way of passing the time at office meetings. In a study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, participants who doodled actually fared better than their counterparts who were tasked to pay attention the entire time, in recalling names and places.

The study found that when you’re daydreaming—a side-effect of being bored—your level of engagement to the activity at hand drops to almost zero, thus preventing you from remembering important information. Doodling prevents the mind from wandering off by giving you something to do that doesn’t detract from the primary auditory task of listening to the presentation.


Break a Sweat

Oftentimes, the best ideas come to you not during brainstorming sessions, but during moments that you are doing something completely different.

When you’re playing,” notes Keith Sawyer, author of Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity, “your mind is open and wandering more freely.” When you take time off work, your mind enters into “incubation” mode, where your consciousness is freed and allows your subconscious to incubate on the problem at hand.

Step out and walk around your parking lot, or if you work in an office building, take the stairs down a floor or two. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll participate after just by giving yourself time to breathe.

Do you have any other tips about boosting creativity?  Let us know in the comments section!

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