Feeling like you’re stuck in a creative rut? Creativity works a lot like a muscle—you have to exercise it for it to work properly. Once you get stuck in a cycle of routine, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost your creativity. Maybe you’re not contributing innovative ideas during team meetings anymore, or maybe you just feel like you’re doing the same thing every single day. Whatever is making you feel uncreative, you don’t have to live with it. All it means is that it’s time to exercise your creative muscles more than you have been! Here are some ways you can stay sharp, innovative, and creative.

Make Time for Creativity

Like anything else, you need to dedicate time to exercising your creative muscles and working on creative projects. These days, everyone seems to be constantly busy and frazzled, which should give us even more reason to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. If you’re finding you have trouble coming up with new ideas for whatever you’re working on, then use your creativity time to work on some creativity exercises. Make this time every day if you can—whether it’s at work or at home. You don’t have to carve out an hour or two—even ten minutes a day can help you exercise your creative muscles.

Do Unrelated Creativity Exercises

Trying to figure out a way to make your company more sustainable? Considering new features for a product you’re working on? You don’t have to sit down and directly brainstorm on these problems to get the creativity flowing. In fact, this can be a counterproductive activity when you’re encountering a creative block, because you’ll put too much pressure on yourself. Instead, try some basic creativity exercises that are designed to spark your innovation. Many of these exercises don’t take more than a few minutes, and they can be very helpful for getting you out of your own head and into your creative project.

Clear Your Head

We spend so much of our time purposefully blocking out the world around us. Nearly everyone you see riding the bus or subway is wearing headphones, tailoring the environment to their own tastes and blocking out the sights and sounds around them. Clearing your head can help you make better observations and think more creatively. Try taking a walk, and don’t bring your phone. Give yourself some time to clear your head and observe the world around you. You may just find that inspiration strikes in the most unexpected moments.

Observe Your Own Patterns

You can’t rely on your “muse” to give you the answers. You can develop and exercise your creativity, which can yield much better results than just waiting for inspiration to strike. Start observing when you’re most creative. What time of day inspires you? Does your second cup of coffee make it easier to conjure up innovative thought? Everyone is different, so it’s important to recognize your own patterns and plan your creativity exercises for those moments.

Don’t Judge Yourself

When you’re exercising your creative muscles, don’t judge your efforts. Let your thoughts out with no filter. There will be time for a filter when you’re ready to show your ideas to other people, like your coworkers. But when you’re trying to get creativity flowing, it’s all too easy to sabotage your efforts by judging yourself, telling yourself your ideas are stupid, or feeling like you’re not creative. Your inner critic can be very harsh, so you should get into the habit of telling it to pipe down while you’re generating creative thoughts.

Talk with Your Peers

Creative people often bounce ideas off each other, and it’s a great way to get inspiration for your next big idea. Connect with creative colleagues and friends and have a chat or try some creativity exercises together. The more diverse your peers are, the more likely it is that innovation will come from these meetings and everyone will benefit from different perspectives.

Creativity in the Workplace

Innovation and creativity are key for business growth, but it’s easy to let creative muscles go slack in an office setting. By making time for creativity every day, you can contribute positively to your organization, and keep your mind open to new possibilities. Remember—you don’t have to be an artist to be creative—you just need to let your mind wander, play, and explore.

By Ryan Ayers

About the author

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.

Featured image via Yayimages.