It is creativity that produces invention and innovation.

It is creativity that makes our lives more fun, more interesting and more full of achievement.

It is creativity that is so often expected of us at home and – especially – at work.

Everybody wants to be creative but many people believe they can’t, just because they were not born that way. Many others believe that creativity is all about those aha! moments which sometimes happen to other people and never to them.

Here is a great news: creativity does not come from nothing. New creative ideas are grounded in ideas and knowledge you already have. Another great news is: creative thinking can be enhanced by external forces, and it’s not necessarily reliant on “good genes” or natural ability, as many people believe.

Here you can find 40 great ways to give your creativity some boost, just try some of them and see what is working for you.

 1. Relax

Relaxing and ‘doing nothing’ can be extremely beneficial for your creativity. States of being and inactivity allow the creative potentials of your mind to manifest themselves. They allow your insights and inspirations to flow.

2. Sleep

Sleep is quite essential for the growth of creativity. Our sleeping brains continue to work on ideas that we are struggling with during the day and it is very much likely that after 8 hours of rest we will think about our experiences in a whole new way which will lead us to finding solutions more easily. Sleep helps to consolidate memories and sharpen thoughts: our memories are restructured before they are stored and creativity appears to be enhanced in the process.

 3. Listen to classical music

The brain functions better and is more creative when listening to certain songs and compositions. For instance, Albert Einstein found listening to Mozart compositions helped his thinking, though he never understood why. Now it has been scientifically proven that the brain’s performance and creativity increases from the positive effects of certain frequencies which are characteristic for classical music.

4. Play piano

Apparently piano playing reduces stress more than other creative art activities. Since stress is one of the most common factors that can block creative thinking playing piano will help to ease and clear your mind so that it can be freer and more creative.

5. Exercise

Going for a walk or doing other physical exercise on a regular basis can really get your creative juices flowing. When we are physically active the body loosens up and our mind becomes freer which makes it easier to come up with new ideas and solutions. However, the effects of exercising are not everlasting and they drop when we are completely at rest.

 6. Spend time outside

Spending time in nature improves your brain function and mental focus. Walking not only results in increased physical activity, it also promotes the free flow of ideas. According to scientists walking outside increases creativity and produces the most novel and highest quality analogies.

 7. Do puzzles

Solving puzzles inspires your brains to look at problems from different angles. Different kinds of puzzles are calling on different properties of mind therefore doing puzzles is opening your mind to challenges and stimulating it to use new approaches and ways of thinking. The problem solving techniques learned by solving puzzles can be used in any area of your life.

 8. Read

Reading is a great way of exercising your mind and stimulating it to look at the world differently which, in turn, will ignite your creativity.  The more you read the more your mind becomes open to new ways of thinking, especially if don’t stick to just one topic or literary genre. And don’t forget, reading also helps to improve your concentration skills.

 9. Remove distractions

Some people are able to focus on more than one thing at a time but in most cases multitasking is a big creativity killer. If you are not a person who can perform multiple tasks simultaneously you better turn off  the TV, shut down the radio, kill the Internet, close the door and get to work.

 10. Think of something far away

The ability to solve problems seems to improve when you create so called psychological distance. All you have to do is think about events far off in the past or future, or in another location. Make your problem seem farther away and it will become easier to solve. It has been proven by scientists that distancing in time and/or space and assuming events or objects to be less realistic can greatly enhance your creativity.

 11. Look at something blue or green

According to some people looking at something green will wake up your creativity while some others say looking at something blue will work better. Since there are also those saying that blue actually kills your creativity, things are getting quite complicated here. But think. Green is associated with growth and fertility, blue reminds us of ocean, sky and openness. Both colors are nice and relaxing. Just try which one works better for YOU.

 12. Daydream

Daydreaming is a natural fit with creativity, it allows for the incubation of ideas. The essence of creativity is that kind of thinking in which unexpected connections are made and people who daydream seem to better at it. But there is a little trick you have to learn: when daydreaming and letting your mind wander you should remain aware enough to recognize a sudden insight when it comes. You know, there is no use to wait for ideas if you don’t notice them when they come.

 13. Write down your dreams

The best stories or scenes are often those in which familiar things are seen in a fresh way, and this often is what dreams are about. So every morning write at least one sentence about your dream, or sketch it if you prefer. And if you don’t remember anything, just write down a short story or make a sketch about something that might have been your dream. This is how you get your imagination to work.

 14. Write by hand

Taking pen to paper inspires more creative thought, because it is a slower process than just typing something on a keyboard. Also, it uses more of your brain, improves your memory and boosts your cognitive skills. If you prefer to sketch, or just scribble, it will also work. It is not just about what you write or draw, it is about the whole experience of handwriting which can get your creative juices flowing.

15. Journal

The major factors that contribute to declining creativity are criticism and fear. In the journal you can express yourself honestly and freely, without being restrained by anything. Also, journaling problems that are bothering you will help you to reorganize your thoughts, look at the world from new angles and produce new strategies and ideas. Things tend to clear up when you write them down.

16. Keep a scrapbook

Sounding a bit old-fashioned scrapbooking is an artistic act that will boost your creativity in more than one way. You use your selectivity skills to choose and put together images and phrases and then your analytical abilities when you look at your collages on a later occasion. Looking at your collection of images at a later time can give a spun to your creative thinking and end up in new and novel ideas.

 17. Create a treasure chest

Keep collecting items that inspire you: photos, postcards, letters, objects that remind you of special people or special places. The excitement you feel looking at your treasures will be stimulating your mind every time you open the chest.

18. Free-associate

Free association is traditionally a psychoanalytic therapy technique in which a person expresses their thoughts as they come to them without any control or hesitation. As freedom inhibits creativity, you can use the concept of free association to look for new ideas within yourself. Just note down all thoughts as they are coming to your mind for a period of time, then go back to your notes and see which thoughts and ideas are worth keeping. You can also pick a random word in a dictionary (or in any book) and write down everything it makes you think of.

19. Restrict yourself

Putting restrictions on yourself while creating can boost your creativity because it forces you to work outside your comfort zone. People tend to fall back on past successes and achievements, placing self-imposed limitations will prevent you from looking back. Try to use less words, less chords, less colors or less tools in your work and see how creative you can be.

 20. Work when tired

As it has been said earlier sleep can help you think of new ideas, but working at your non-optimal time of day can also enhance your creativity. When you work when tired your self-consciousness and mental restraints are weaker and you tend to act in a more relaxed and natural way.

21. Sit in a coffee-shop

Many people are most creative when some distraction of a moderate level is present. The noise of a coffee-shop is slightly distracting, and so are the people around you, so you will be encouraged to think a little harder and more imaginatively. On the other hand, the noise and the people can be a great source of inspiration that you will never find staying home.

22. Spend time with creative people
Have you noticed how great artists are very often clustered together, both geographically and chronologically? That’s because interacting with creative individuals makes you more creative as well. Artists can exchange techniques while competition increases effort – all this can lead to very novel solutions. There is nothing better than spending time in good company of creative people but you also can use the internet to get in touch with artists from all over the world and to get to know their artwork.

 23. Learn from the best
If you want be more creative, you have to learn from people who are smarter than you are. Listen to them, watch them work, try to understand what makes them special. If you don’t find a mentor you can learn from observation. When you see a piece of work you admire, examine it in detail and discover exactly what makes it so great. Try to discover how others became creatively successful and let the observations inspire you.

24. Get someone else’s opinion

Don’t be afraid to ask for opinions. Different people are looking at problems from different angles and somebody might mention something that will spark a whole new stream of thoughts.

25. Unblock your thinking

If nothing comes to your mind it is best to stop forcing yourself to come up with ideas. Take a piece of paper and start writing your name over and over again, or just scribbling without any thinking at all, until something useful emerges . The point is to brain dump and empty yourself. Make space and the really creative ideas will come.

 26. Brainstorm

Brainstorming helps you develop creative solutions to a problem, and is particularly useful when you need to break out of stale thinking patterns. All you have to do is put down everything you can think of that might work – and don’t be afraid  to come up with thoughts and ideas that can, at first, seem a bit crazy. Some of these ideas can be crafted into original, creative solutions to your problem or spark even more ideas. And as you begin to practice brainstorming, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier for your creative side to come out and that’s the goal

 27. Come up with 10 ideas a day

 If you cannot think of 10 right away, start with one and every next day try to come up with one more than on the day before. Write your ideas down, sketch them, or record them. The fun part is, you don’t have to think of useful things only. Some of your ideas can be quite bizarre and making no sense, doesn’t matter. The point is to exercise  your imagination – and once the ideas start flowing into your mind you will find out more and more of them can be actually used.

 28. Break patterns

Every time you are in novel situations your brain produces substance that increases your focus and helps to create new memories. Later you can draw upon these enhanced memories while writing, drawing or otherwise engaging in creative activities. You don’t have to wait for a new situation to occur, you can create it yourself. Try taking a new route to work, do your shopping in a shop that you have never visited before, buy yourself a new coffee cup that is totally different from your favorite one, try to notice things you have never paid any attention to and interact with them in some way (walk around a lamp post in the park, for instance).

 29. Rethink labels

Rethinking labels – or generic parts technique – will help you overcome so called functional fixedness. This is a two step technique: first, you have to pick an object and break it down into its basic parts, then name each part in a way that does not imply meaning. Using his technique, a candle becomes wax and string. Seeing the wick as a string is key: calling it a “wick” implies that its use is to be lit, but calling it a “string” opens up new possibilities.

 30. Use counter-factual thinking

Counter-factual thinking can greatly boost your creativity for short periods of time. All you have to do is look at an event that has already happened and ask yourself “What could have happened?”. Re-imagine different outcomes taking elements out of the event or adding them into it.

31. List problems

Keep a notebook handy at all times and, throughout the day, note down the things that annoy or bother you. Describing one issue you might suddenly come up with a creative solution to another one.

 32. Re-conceptualize the problem

Instead of thinking of your end goal it is better to sit back and examine the problem in different ways before you start to work; this is one of the things the most creative people tend to do much more often than their less creative counterparts. So instead of thinking what to paint, write or make try to focus on a more meaningful angle. You can think of your audience, for instance. What are the problems they face? What inspires them? What do they like? What makes them happy?  Thinking this way you are much more likely to come up with creative and novel ideas.

 33. Think about others

People thinking about their work being used by someone else tend to come up with more novel ideas than those focusing on their work or themselves. Try to visualize the person who is going to wear your earrings, look at your painting or read your book. Being creative at imagining your clientele will result at being creative at your work as well.

 34. Do something new

If you want to give your creativity a big boost, bringing in many new ideas, do something you’ve never done before. This is anything you’ve always thought you’d like to do, like bungee jumping or going on safari, but have never taken the time to do.

35. Stay positive

It is a fact that our best and most creative work is done during strong positive moods. Positive attitude results not only in creative thinking by also in increased motivation and energy to do things and accomplish goals. If you feel you could use more positive mood try visualizing your dreams or recalling good memories. Going on a walk or exercising also can help.

36. Make the conscious decision to be more creative

By making a conscious decision to be more creative and by keeping it in mind you will plant it in your subconsciousness and that eventually will set your imaginative mind in motion.

37. Don’t criticize yourself

Learn to accept yourself for what you are. Remember, the worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt. Self-doubt and self-criticism are mental blocks that do not let your mind be free and visionary.

 38. Remove the pressure of expectation

Putting pressure on yourself to produce something really outstanding can actually make it harder to come up with anything at all. Putting love and passion into your work with no outcome expectations increases the chances of having an amazing creation.

39. Build confidence with baby steps

Think of a child who is learning to walk: they begin by falling a lot but they keep on getting up and trying again until they can walk and finally run. This is the best way to learn, build your confidence and move forward: a tiny step sets the foundation for a big leap in the future. Take small steps and don’t give up if you fail.

40. Practice makes perfect

The most creative people know a lot in their domain of expertise. That means that in order to stoke your creativity you need to continually develop your skills. So, whatever you do, try to practice your craft every day – but remember that the kind of practice matters. If you keep practicing what you already know, instead of pushing your limits, you will quickly reach a plateau. Getting better isn’t just a matter of working hours, it is a matter of  forcing yourself to learn something new and broadening your skill set. Better skills will make you more open to novel and creative ideas.