Any creative, whether a designer, entrepreneur, thought leader or other, can tell you creativity works best when the mind is at rest. You let your mind relax and wander and it starts connecting the dots in new and valuable ways.
This is now backed by new research, where "Neuroscience is finding that when we are idle, in leisure, our brains are most active."
I wrote about 32 simple, daily exercises you can use to practice your creativity. Today I am adding some new ones, specifically to try on vacation. Some are easy prompts to be creative, others focus on how to be creative with your time now that you're off your daily routine.
- Do nothing--sit anywhere, on the beach, by the pool, on a rock, and let your mind wander. Being bored with nothing to do is a boon for creativity.
- Take photos--faces, flowers, architectural details, store signs--to see things differently as you create a visual repository of what you saw. This is a great time to try different photo apps like Snapseed (great landscape photos in beautiful colors) and Slow Shutter Cam (night shots and waterfalls).
- Draw what you see--when you're at a cafe or a restaurant waiting for your order to arrive, draw what you see. Imagine you're a child and don't worry about the quality of your drawing. Like with the photo exercise, it will help you remember the moment and notice details you wouldn't otherwise see.
- Play this game with your fellow travelers--fold a paper a couple times until its business card size. Draw something on it. Open it once and give it to the next person. They need to continue your drawing and then give it to the next person.
- Take the road less traveled--imagine you live here. Pick an address on Google Maps that interest you and go there. Once you arrive discover cafes, bookstores, local shops.
- Change your hours--if you're usually a late bird, wake up really early to watch the sunrise or to be the first person in the sea. If you're an early bird, stay up late and discover night life. In either case, take a siesta to pack on sleep.
- Listen to local music--try Radio Garden, an app where you "rotate the globe" to listen to live radio.
- Go to a different kind of museum--find a small one in a big city or a big one in a small town. You'll be surprised the little jewel of a place you might discover. Here is a list from the NYTimes to inspire you, including the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul.
- Learn something new--snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, windsurfing, pottery, cooking, live drawing. Learning new skills helps you practice having a beginner's mind, a key state for creativity.
- Read a site-inspired book--discover a local author, read a book about the history, or the biography of a local artist, entrepreneur, inventor. Nothing like reading Iliada when you're on the Aegean coast, or the diary of Frida Kahlo in Mexico.
- Doodle in a book--take one of these books with you: Keri Smith's The Line: An Adventure into Your Creative Depths, or Wreck This Journal, or Souris Hong's beautiful coloring book, Outside the Lines, Too: An Inspired and Inventive Coloring Book by Creative Masterminds.
- Make a collage--collect bottle caps, sea shells, local food packaging, your boarding passes to make a collage in your sketchbook at breakfast or over drinks. Bring or buy a glue stick.
- Make unusual sand castles on the beach--try abstract forms like a cube, a cone or a pyramid.
Written on vacation, I myself am putting these exercises to practice.