As much as you’d like to, you’re not always going to be at the peak of your creativity. You can’t force the issue, no matter how experienced you become at connecting ideas in new ways. You can’t force yourself to be creative; this is as much a science as it is an art.
It’s important to have the right expectations about this process so you go about it in the right way. You want to strengthen your skills of creativity so you’re never stuck for long. You don’t want to be in the thick of working, stuck and paralyzed because you can’t get in the creative frame of mind. That’s when you need to take a break and reevaluate—it’s just not going to happen at that moment.
Sometimes, you need to take care of a creative idea like it’s a baby. Sometimes, that baby will be fussy and cranky and it won’t do anything you want it to do. Other times, that baby will smile at you and coo and make it all worth it. In the end, despite any fussiness, the idea will mature and grow and your efforts will pay off.
Think of it as being a cycle of creativity. It wouldn’t even be a good thing to always be at the peak of creativity. If you were constantly generating idea after idea, there would never be time for any idea to come to fruition.
Sometimes, you’ll actively work on generating ideas. Other times, you’ll work on feeding your system with sensory information, research, facts, and the ideas of other people. Other times, your mind will just give you the answer when you least expect it.
A Fair Warning
Sometimes, your idea will be so great, and the connections so solid, that it will make you completely uncertain and uncomfortable. Get used to feeling that way. This fear is part of the process–it’s okay not to know the answers all the time. If you never get comfortable with your new ideas, you will never be at the peak of your creativity. Those ideas just won’t come and the follow through won’t be there. Treat your ideas like gold and nurture them to maturity.
Know That Everyone Feels the Same Way
I know you’ve had great ideas in the past, so think back to how that felt. Think about how wonderful it was to have that eureka moment–that feeling of “Aha!” Hold on to that feeling when times are rough and you just can’t seem to get it right. You’ll get it back.
It’s important to understand that your energy levels have a lot to do with how creative you are. If you’re working overtime, your creativity just won’t come…it won’t have time to come. All work and no play make you a dull man or woman.
I don’t meant to turn this into a joke, but you won’t get new ideas if you keep your head down all the time. Look up, interact with other people in your world, and give yourself a break and do things that are fun. Close the computer and turn off the Smartphone–disconnect to enhance your creativity.
You Have to Disconnect Sometimes
There has to be a happy balance. The Internet is a wonderful way to meet new people and get new ideas. It allows you to fill your head with as much information as you want to. You can investigate and explore other people’s ideas on an intimate level. On the other hand, the Internet ties you to your work all the time. If you never turn it off, there won’t be any opportunities for your natural creativity to turn on.
Make sure you stay happy, healthy, and well rested. Find a happy medium and give yourself permission to stop working once in a while. In fact, I’m going to recommend a certain work schedule a bit further on that’s linked better productivity, more happiness, and more creative thoughts and solutions.
A Work Schedule That Follows Your Natural Rhythms
Interestingly, research by Mareike Weith and Rose Zacks has found that our creativity tends to come at the opposite of what we consider to be our peak hours. For instance, a morning person may get their best ideas at night. A night person may get their best ideas in the morning. Our circadian rhythms affect how our brain works—a little bit of off-focus drowsiness feeds on the resting state of our mind.
Of course, circadian rhythms have been thrown off balance for many these days. This is because of how hooked we are to our devices, how much we work, and how stressed we are. There’s a good reason your doctors plead with you to get enough rest. It’s solid advice, for more than one reason.
So, why are we more creative at off-peak hours? It’s often because we are more distracted from our typical problems and processes. It sounds counter-intuitive, but over-focusing on a problem can lead to the opposite result.
Taking your mind off of a problem after you’ve fed it the right information can lead to more creative solutions than you would have had otherwise. Consider this when you balk at the thought of taking a break, because you’re doing yourself more harm than good. Take breaks, develop wide interests, and explore other people and your world, and the answers will come much more easily.
No, you’re not always going to be at the peak of creativity. With that said, it all works together. You need to work, fill your mind with information, fully understand the problem or question at hand, take time off to explore your senses, seek out others’ opinions and views, and stop pressuring yourself for the perfect idea, and the answer will come to you.
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