Creativity may be partly innate aptitude, but science has shown it's influenced by a host of other factors, including your physical environment and how many new experiences you expose yourself to. Businesses looking for fresh ideas can certainly leverage these lessons to build spaces that encourage creativity. Individuals can use them to maximize whatever level of inherent creativity they were born with.
But by now, a lot of these insights are old hat. The innovation-enhancing effects of offices that allow people to bump into one another and gel together easily in small groups have been well covered, for instance. So what if you've been through the usual list of creativity boosters and are still hungry for new ways to rev up your brain to produce out-of-the box ideas?
It takes a little looking, but there is no shortage of more off-the-wall ideas. Recently, writer Herbert Lui went prospecting around the Web for weird and wacky creativity boosters for The Freelancer and came back with a host of promising possibilities. Here are a few of them:
Do It in the Dark
Getting outdoors has been shown to boost creativity, but if you're not really a nature person (or live in a concrete jungle), Liu found another idea. Leverage the power of darkness. Nope, you don't need to disobey Yoda and fail to resist the pull of the Dark Side; you just need to turn out the lights.
"If you're feeling stifled, try working in a dimmer environment. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology has shown darkness and dim illumination promote creativity. Other experiments discovered that you can boost your creativity by simply priming yourself with the idea of darkness--even just describing an experience of being in the dark," writes Liu. Just be aware that while this works for generating ideas, when it actually comes to executing them, it's best to flip the switch on again.
Build Yourself a Box
Shakespeare's poetic genius thrived in the highly structured form of the sonnet (yup, ex-English major here). Why? Perhaps because constraints, even artificial ones, can spur creativity. Therefore, Liu suggests you skip thinking outside the box and opt to think inside one instead.
Medium, Twitter, and Blogspot co-founder Evan Williams has written about how constraints helped him make decisions more effectively: "With Medium, we have an engineering team that can build anything, matched with large ambitions, and plenty of capital. How do we ensure we don't create something overly complex and/or fail to ship at all? By picking a date,'" Liu reports, adding: "Think of it like having a blank canvas as opposed to one that already has a few brush strokes. It's much easier to work around the lines and create something based on those constraints rather than putting a brush to emptiness."
Annoy Your Friends
Listening to you babbling on about your half-baked notions might not please your friends, but if they're willing to lend you an ear, such aimless chatting is likely to help you develop new ideas, according to Liu. Just don't tell your buddies that their input and advice is completely beside the point.
"When you're stuck, a simple solution is to talk out your problems with a friend. You don't have to take any advice--but listening to ideas and responses could spark new ones of your own," Liu explains.
Do you employ any strange-sounding creativity boosters?