Ever hit a roadblock while working or trying to solve a problem in a creative way? So have I, and I thought this week I would share some of my favorite ways to get around that roadblock.
1. Shake it up. Change the position or location in which you normally work. The change of scenery might shake something in your brain loose and allow you to get into a forward motion.
2. Check out a museum, art gallery, or park you haven’t been to in a while or ever.
3. Go on a photo safari. This might not work for you if you are a photographer, but for the average person taking on the new perspective of a photographer can help you change your perspective on another project.
4. Change your daily route. Change the path you drive to work or class, the path you walk from your car or just the way you move around your apartment.
5. Listen to music. This can jog unrelated memories that might inspire a direction to your work.
6. Meditate. Clearing the constant monologue from your mind can make room for new ideas.
7. Learn something new. Trying to learn a new skill activates pathways in the mind that aren’t normally used.
8. Hang out with kids. Children haven’t yet been trained in the ways they are supposed to think and so their creativity is constantly active. Give them a blank notebook and see what they do or be straight-forward and tell them about your problem and see what their response might be.
Unblocking for a Specific Idea
1. Run around the block. Getting your blood pumping and changing up the scene can get your creativity on the move too.
2. Go to the bookstore and check out your topic. You’ll get to see other people’s perspectives and ideas that you might not of thought of or considered searching for online.
3. Look at bad examples of the project you are working on. Seeing how an amateur did the work will show you how to improve on your own work.
Three Contrarian Processes
1. Problem-solve when drowsy.
Most will tell you to work on solving a big problem when you’re fresh and energetic, however, Mareike Wiefh and Rose Sacks conducted a study which found the people are better at problem solving at non-optimal times. This works because a key aspect of solving “insight” problems is being able to overcome an impasse in your head. “To come up with an original idea or novel solution, in other words, we must be able to approach it from a different perspective” (McGregor, 2012).
View study here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13546783.2011.625663#preview
2. Bring on the noise.
Change up your scenery. Head to the local coffee shop or your favorite chill handout spot for a bit. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research detailing how noise levels affect creativity found that people located in moderately noisy environments came up with ideas which peers rated as more creative than the ideas of people located in quiet or very noisy locations.
Source: “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition,” Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu and Amar Cheema, Journal of Consumer Research
3. Wind down with a drink.
Everyone knows the stereotype of the drunk artist or the startup founders who scrawl their million-dollar ideas on bar cocktail napkins, well turns out its a stereotype for a reason. A study in Consciousness and Cognition compared word association abilities between two groups of participants: one sober control group and one test group with a blood alcohol level just south of the legal limit. The test group answered more questions correctly, quicker, and more intuitively than the control group.
Its the findings of these studying that might explain how you can sit for hours through an unproductive brainstorming session and not think of anything till the moment you take a break.
Try out one of these ideas the next time you hit a road block in your creative path and hopefully you’ll be back on the creative journey again quickly.