In A Creative Rut?
"Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way." - Edward de Bono
The other weekend, my boyfriend and I mixed it up a little bit.
Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about our weekend activities and the way we approached our to do's.
Our switch-up didn’t include a lavish trip or anything too out of the ordinary, instead, it was simple changes to our routine.
We ended up having a weekend filled with new memories and conversations, which you kind of expect when you try something new. What I hadn't expected, was an avalanche of new ideas and solutions to some creative work I had sitting on the back burner.
I know I’ve talked about the power of rituals and routines...I’m obsessed with my morning routine and swear by it.
But nothing is absolute, and that includes routine. Besides, doing the same thing day in and day out can get pretty boring, no?
Changing things up here and there, even in small ways, can create new experiences and perspectives.
It can break us out of our comfort zone, help us to shift unhealthy or unproductive patterns, give us fresh insight, or allow us to see a problem from a different angle.
Switching things up can even affect our brain on a neurological level.
You jolt your brain and stimulate it to make new neural connections any time you purposely change your routine. It's like taking your car off cruise control and switching to manual, you have to pay closer attention to what you’re doing and this causes your brain to wake up.
Our brains are naturally pretty lazy. We form habits and routines to make our life easier. They allow us to get through life without having to think through minute details and make decisions on every little thing - saving us from the dreaded decision fatigue.
This is how many of us make it through our jam packed days - delegating as much as possible to habits and routines, like the good little worker bees that they are.
Except, sometimes our habits and routines can get us stuck in a rut, creative or otherwise.
Habits may keep us from feelings of overwhelm, but they don’t do a whole lot to spark new ideas. With about 40 percent of our daily activities stuck on habitual autopilot, you can see how we might stall out.
It’s difficult to see a new possibility through the lens of routine. Our brain will always "choose the most energy efficient path" if we allow it, Tara Swart explains in Neuroscience for Leadership.
This is where switching it up comes in.
Simone Ritter and colleagues found that any kind of new experience that causes you to push outside “normal thought patterns” can help with boosting our creativity.
This is why after a trip away or even a traumatic event, we often see our world in a new light.
The great news is, as I found out the other weekend, we don’t have to take an exotic vacation or suffer trauma to get our brain firing and thinking in different ways. There’s even evidence that just thinking about time spent abroad can make us more creative!
What does this mean for you and me?
As creatives and entrepreneurs, we can kick our creative thinking up a notch by ensuring we keep our routines and perspectives fresh.
Usually, work at home? Try a coffee shop for a new environment. Always work at the cafe around the corner? Get fancy and try working from a hotel bar for a day (my fav).
We’re creatures of habit, so this applies to pretty much everything we do.
Always sit in the same chair in your conference room for meetings? Try simply moving seats and see how this perks up your thinking.
Love your morning routine as much as I do? Try adding a new element, mixing up the order, or doing the same activities in a different room.
As Meg Selig says in Psychology Today, “Even good, healthy routines can drag us down if we don’t break them and re-form them from time to time,
So this weekend, how can you mix it up?
Wishing you your version of success,
P.S. What's your favorite way to shake up your routine? Let me know in the comments below!
P.P.S. Know someone else who might like this blog? I'd be ever so grateful if you shared it with them!