BRAINSTORM

6 Surprising Ways to Get More Creative

Want to prime your creative juices? Start by making a mess--it's good for your brain.
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Here are six surprising facts you might not already know about how the creative mind works, which can hopefully to get your own creative juices flowing:

1. Workplace clutter makes you more creative.

Here's a creativity fact Martha Stewart certainly wouldn't agree with: clutter actually makes you more creative. Research by the University of Minnesota discovered people in a disorderly room were more creative than those in an orderly room. Disorder can help you see things in a new way.

After all, penicillin was discovered by accident only after mold grew on one of Alexander Fleming's petri dishes. So, don't waste your time straightening up your desk. There could be inspiration lurking in that clutter. 

2. Blue is the warmest color for your creativity.

We know color can affect your mood, but can it also spur your creativity? A study by the University of British Columbia looked at the two primary colors most associated with advertisements: red and blue. They found that, while red is great for focusing our attention to detail, blue is the color you need for creativity.

Blue environmental cues in the study caused participants to produce twice as many creative outputs. Blue is associated with tranquil environments like the ocean and sky, making people feel safe to creatively explore.

3. Exhausted? That's great... for your creativity anyway.

If you want to work at optimal productivity, you should do so when you're most awake and alert. For early birds this might be in the morning, while night owls perform better later. But when it come to creativity, you should just throw this conventional wisdom out the window.

According to some research, being exhausted and easily distracted can actually be the best combination for creativity. Creative work calls for being receptive and able to form new pathways and solutions to old problems. When you're susceptible to more information, you're that much closer to a new and potentially great idea.

4. Coffee shops give you a brain boost.

Is there an added bonus to your overpriced cup of coffee besides the caffeine rush? Researchers from the Universities of British Columbia and Virginia certainly think so. They've found the moderate noise distraction found at your average coffee shop can help boost your ability to think creativity. The sweet spot, according to researchers, is about 70 decibels of ambient noise. So next time you go for a coffee, consider staying for a bit of inspiration.

5. Meditation can actually rewire your brain.

If you stop thinking, at least temporarily, it might help you think more creatively. Meditation can actually rewire your brain by loosening the connections in the medial prefrontal cortex. Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands found the right form of meditation can actually improve creativity. Open-monitoring meditation, where meditators focus on both the internal and external, can boost the ability to think of new ideas and dream up solutions to problems.

6. Aerobic exercise can help.

Exercise isn't just good for your body, it's also good for your mind. So if you've already given up on your new year's resolution to hit the gym, you might want to reconsider. Research by Rhode Island College gave participants the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking after some vigorous exercise. The results? Participants thought more creatively after working up a sweat. So there's really no more excuses not to hit the gym.

Have other methods for boosting your creativity? Share in the comments!

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Mar 20, 2014




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