As a marketer, I have found that the biggest lever for success is creativity. It’s no surprise why ads are called “creatives” in marketing. The better your “creatives” are, the more sales you generate and the more money is made. The ability to consistently generate better ideas for ads can set you far apart from competitors, who are using “cookie cutter” thinking to create their ads.
However, the concept of using creativity to increase sales is not just a marketing thing. Any business that sets out to solve a problem in the marketplace will require creative thinking to overcome obstacles and solve real-world problems. The more creative you can get with how to solve these problems the more value is provided to the marketplace and as a result, more income is generated.
But here’s the problem. Creativity is fleeting. It’s here one day and gone the next. So how do you maintain creativity, even when you don’t feel like it? This is one of the biggest challenges I have faced over the years personally. I set out to “systematize” my creativity and discovered ways to alter my lifestyle and put specific practices in place that are conducive to creative thinking. In this post, I am going to share some of the top tactics, systems, and strategies I use to consistently generate creative ideas.
The Creativity Formula
Most people are not aware of this, but generating creativity comes down to a simple formula. Here it is:
New External Inputs = More Creative Outputs
Simple enough right? Let me explain how this works. The human mind generates creative thoughts (outputs) based on what we feed our mind visually, physically, and mentally (inputs).
Our brains are constantly gathering inputs based on what we do, who we see, what we eat, where we travel, what we learn, and much more. These inputs are processed in our minds which then leads to thoughts.
For the most part, people do not consciously seek out more “inputs”. Instead, they just happen naturally to us. However, if you want to increase your creative thoughts you must consciously be aware of what inputs you are feeding your mind.
The problem is that most people feed their minds the same “inputs” over and over. They wake up, follow the same routine, go to work, go home, eat the same foods, listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows, talk to the same people, and stay in the same location. What happens over time is that your mind is not receiving enough new inputs, and as a result, you are generating less creative outputs. The good news is that once you are aware of this, you can deliberately change your patterns to explode your creativity. Let’s talk about some specific ways to do this.
Optimizing Your Inputs For Higher Creativity
In order to break the patterns of your regular “inputs”, you must go out of your way to provide your mind with fresh stimulus. The best way to this is to do something NEW.
Here are some specific ways you can generate new inputs:
- Travel to a new place
- Try new foods
- Listen to new music
- Change the order of your daily routine. (Do you normally brush your teeth and then shower? Try reversing the order)
- Talk to new people
- Try new sports/activities
- Read new books
The list could go on and on, but you get the point. If you want NEW ideas, you must feed your mind NEW inputs.
Lifestyle Habits To Increase Creativity
Just feeding your mind new inputs can do wonders for increasing creativity, but beyond that you must also live your lifestyle in a way that is productive for positive and creative thinking. Here are some ways that I have optimized my lifestyle to be more conducive to creativity.
Exercise has been a key component of my daily routine, that I have found is no longer optional. For me personally, it is almost impossible to have creative thoughts if I am not working out regularly. I have found this to be the biggest lever in my lifestyle that helps me increase my health, focus, productivity, creativity, and overall well being. The benefits of regular exercise are endless.
Healthy Eating also plays a huge role in having creative thoughts. Feeding your body healthy foods allows you to operate at a much higher level of performance, similar to regular exercise.
Getting Enough Sleep is also very important. I have a very hard time coming up with anything creative when I am running on less than 6 hours of sleep. For me getting exactly 8 hours is a sweet spot I have found that allows my mind to operate at it’s full potential. If I get less than 6 hours, it is almost impossible for me to have great creative thoughts. I am just too tired/groggy.
Avoiding Excess Drinking also plays a huge role in having creative thoughts the next day. It is very hard to think when you have a splitting headache and a hangover. This is something I learned in college. When consuming alcohol I found it important to consume less than the amount that normally gives me a headache or any sort of ill effects the following day. I can basically count on getting nothing productive done creativity wise if I am hungover, so I avoid drinking as much as possible.
Working Out Your “Creativity Muscle”
Just like any other muscle in your body, you can actually increase your creativity by performing “creativity workouts”. Creativity is a muscle that can be built over time and increased by repetition.
Here are a few ways to work out your creativity muscle.
Write Down 3 New Business Ideas Per Day
This exercise is simple and could take less than 10-minutes to perform daily. Take a piece of paper and write down 3 business ideas, no matter how stupid or impossible they might sound. The practice of exercising your mind and coming up with creative solutions to problems (even if the ideas are stupid) helps condition your mind to consistently generate new ideas.
Think of a product, come up with 3 different “avatars”, and write ads for each.
If you are in marketing like me, one of the biggest creative influences to increase your income is coming up with new angles and ideas to promote products to different audiences.
Here is an exercise you can do daily, to hone in your creative thinking and train your mind to come up with new angles on demand.
Think of any product out in the marketplace, and come up with three different types of people who might use this product. Write a short ad copy 100 words long, to sell the product to that specific demographic.
For example, let’s say the product is a high-quality brand of sun-screen. Three potential customer avatars are:
2. Fair skinned individuals
3. Mothers who want the best quality product for their children
Take each different profile and write down the biggest problem these people have when it comes to sunscreen. Write a 100-word ad copy for each that includes a catchy opening, outlines the problem, and proposes the solution.
If you do this every single day, writing creative ad copy and coming up with angles will become second nature.
Implementing the strategies I have mentioned above will not fix your creativity in a single day, but I promise that if you even take 1 or 2 things from what I taught and implement them daily over the course of weeks and months, you will see a HUGE increase in creativity.
To your success,