Entrepreneurs have to think on their feet, and constantly look ahead for the next great idea or opportunity. But what if you find yourself in a creative slump? Here are a few surprising things that can help you boost your creative thinking--and maybe help you come up with the next big thing.

1. Have a Beer.

Do you ever find that you come up with your best ideas after you’ve downed a cold one? Well, there’s science that backs that up. A study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine shows that throughout history many artists and writers have turned to alcohol as a means of entering an almost mystical state, in which ideas and inspiration flows freely. A 2012 study published in the scholarly journal Consciousness and Cognition, meanwhile, shows that people who had a drink (a vodka and cranberry, in this case) could solve word puzzles more quickly and creatively than their non-drinking counterparts. So next time you’re trying to think up your next innovative business move, have a drink! (In moderation, of course.)

2. Step away from your keyboard.

Pens and pencils may be old school, but they can help us do some of our best thinking. When you come up short of ideas as you’re working on something, try handwriting instead of typing. Stepping away from the screen can free you from digital distractions. Sketching out your ideas by hand can give you more of a sense of freedom than restricting yourself to what your computer can do. Drs. Carrie and Alton Barron, authors of The Creativity Cure, say that disconnecting from technology, and using our hands to get down to the task at hand can be one of the best ways to get those creative juices flowing.

3. Play Super Mario.

Is it possible that playing video games–so often dismissed as the refuge of the lazy and unproductive–can actually fuel creativity? According to researchers at Penn State, it sure can. Their studies revealed that video game playing could make people feel more energetic and positive–and thus more creative. Who knew that Mario and Luigi had a higher purpose than rescuing Princess Toadstool?

4. Embrace Contradiction.

Can you be happy and sad at the same time? Researchers at Northwestern University suggest that it might be worth a try. Their study revealed that people who try to remember a happy time in their life while simultaneously frowning were able to think more expansively. The experiment was gauging the effect that cognitive dissonance had on people’s thinking--and the result was that if people tried to think in ways that were different from the way that they were acting, they were less likely to fall back into repeated patterns--and more likely to be more creative.

5. Get Outside the Box

"Think outside the box" is one of the most tired and un-creative creativity-related cliches. A study published in Psychological Science shows, however, that literally getting outside of a box can be one tactic for boosting creativity. The authors had participants complete a short test while seated either inside or outside of a box. Those sitting outside the box were markedly more successful and creative in their responses than those sitting inside. The study reveals that the mind-body connection is not only real--but it’s strong! You can take advantage of that connection to spur new ideas.

Published on: Sep 1, 2015
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