How many times do you and your team ask these questions while you work?

"What did we do last time?" or "what is everyone else doing?"

While these may sound like legitimate ways to efficiently get work done, it often leads you down the path of regurgitating the same old ideas. As you work to build your business, it will be tough to innovate if you get stuck in a rut of always doing the same thing, with only slight variations.

Creativity is a hallmark of breakthrough products. Companies like Apple, Tesla, and Google are fueled by innovation and creativity.

But many people, entrepreneurs included, are quick to note they aren't very creative. Thus they are content to make minor adjustments to the status quo rather than pushing to create in a way that's groundbreaking.

Creativity is a muscle that can be cultivated. It's not something that's reserved solely for a certain "type" of person. Here are 5 proven ways to boost your creativity, so your business can start innovating in a bigger way.

1. Creative cross training

It can be easy to get so entrenched in the work you're doing, that you forsake all other creative projects, hobbies, or endeavors.

But when you take time to step away and engage in an unrelated creative skill, it begins to work new muscles in your brain.

The concept is similar to when athletes cross-train to develop different muscles.The more you tap into and strengthen different parts of your brain, the easier it becomes to look at your day-to-day work from a fresh perspective.

Srini Rao is an author and host of the Unmistakable Creative podcast. He started creative cross-training by learning how to draw, which led to a significant change to his company's branding, as well as the production of an animated visual series.

2. Don't run from problems

When obstacles get thrown in our path, sometimes it's easier to retreat and do something else, rather than trying to tear down barriers.

Instead of letting problems defeat you, look at them as an opportunity to discover a creative solution to make things work for you.

In The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday advised why we should lean into adversity:

All great victories, be they in politics, business, art, or seduction, involved resolving vexing problems with a potent cocktail of creativity, focus, and daring. When you have a goal, obstacles are actually teaching you how to get where you want to go - carving you a path.

The constraints you're forced to work within will challenge you to abandon utilizing your standard problem-solving techniques. You'll have to dig in deeper to find an alternate way to solve it.

3. Give yourself constraints

Have you ever watched those cooking shows like Chopped or Cupcake Wars on The Food Network? Even with the tight and sometimes kind of crazy rules the chefs and bakers have to operate within (must use specific ingredients and complete tasks with little time), they are still able to produce. And their creations are extremely creative!

Writer Belle Beth Cooper explains why this works so well:

What restrictions do is take away some of the choices available to us, and with them, the paralysis of choice that stops us from getting started.

The more you challenge yourself to create within constraints, the easier it will be for you to come up with novel ideas you wouldn't have considered otherwise.

4. Force yourself to produce

To help you create a massive body of work from which to pull from, commit to generating a specified amount over a given time period.

Gradually, as your mind is forced to create, you'll start to run out of the safe, standard ideas that pop into your head first. You'll have to look for other inspiration and uncommon ways to meet your quota.

5. Intentionally make yourself uncomfortable

Comfort and familiarity are the enemies of creativity.

Shake your mind outside its comfort zone, and expose yourself to drastically different viewpoints, cultures, and experiences.

One study showed that fashion designers who'd spent years living abroad in countries vastly different from their own produced more creative work. It helped them view everyday occurrences with new eyes.

You can become a creative powerhouse. But you've got to work at it to get and keep your creative skills sharp.

Just like your body gets out of shape if it lies dormant for too long, your creative muscle will fall asleep if you don't work it regularly.

Don't get comfortable with the same old boring ideas.

Use one of more of the proven methods above, and you'll soon see just how much of a creative genius you can be.

Published on: Feb 14, 2017