Sometimes we talk about creativity as a character trait or inborn ability. Other times we speak of "unleashing" it through some sort of radical lifestyle change such as author Elizabeth Gilbert's globetrotting adventures or various gurus' accounts of quitting their dreary jobs to re-imagine their lives.

Of course, every once in awhile embodying your creativity does call for such a significant life overhaul (if so, be brave and go for it!), but other times you just need a new direction for your marketing, a clever addition to your product lineup, or a creative closing slide for that big presentation. A months-long trip to Bali isn't in the cards for these sort of everyday creativity blockages. So how do you spur your mind to come up with the ideas you need?

According to a post by founder Larry Kim on Medium recently, creativity interventions need not always be so dramatic. Often ten minutes is all you need to kick start your brain and wildly increase the likelihood of a breakthrough. Here are a few of his suggestions. 

1. Doodle.

Your teachers might have yelled at your for doodling, but those up on the science of scribbling would have congratulated you. Doodling actually helps you focus, learn and remember, research shows. So push aside that memory of scowling Mrs. So-and-so and give yourself free rein to doodle.

"Suni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, notes that some of the greatest thinkers-from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs-used doodling to jump-start creativity," claims Kim, who adds that "some companies even encourage doodling during meetings!"

2. Pause and move.

If your group brainstorming session has ground to an unproductive halt, Kim has a quick and easy suggestion -- take it to the park or coffee shop. "Physically move your body and consider your project problem from different locations. Physical movement has been shown to have a positive effect on creative thinking," he says. Here's more science to convince you if you're dubious.

3. Channel your inner kid.

"Many creative design companies encourage employees to keep toys on their desks-from Legos and Lincoln Logs to Play-Doh and origami paper," notes Kim. Why? "Building something physically with your hands, as opposed to typing on a keyboard, can be just the creative jolt you need." So hit the toy store one lunch break and go wild. It's a genuine business expense -- really!

4. Try the 30 Circles Test.

This idea comes from designer Tim Brown's TED talk "Creativity and Play." How does it work? "Take a piece of paper and draw 30 circles on the paper. Now, in one minute, adapt as many circles as you can into objects. For example, one circle could become a sun. Another could become a globe. How many can you do in a minute?" instructs Kim.

Most adults struggle to reach 30, he notes, mostly due to our tendency to self-edit. (In general kids, apparently, race through all 30 without a problem.) The test is a great reminder that premature criticism is a great way to kill your creativity.

5. Write some flash fiction.

"Flash fiction is a form of writing consisting of extremely short pieces. There are many flash fiction writing groups online in which members write 100-word stories based on a provided prompt. That's right, just 100 words. No one can say that's out of their league," insists Kim. So log in to one of these groups or just give it a go on your own and see if being a mini-novelist stirs up any cool, new ideas.

Have you found any other surefire ways to kick start your creativity?

Published on: Mar 31, 2016