Advice:10 proven tips on creative thinking

By , published on 9th August 2010

Here are ten very simple tips to help you think more creatively:

  1. Close your eyes – it’s harder to see what might be when surrounded by what already exists. Closing your eyes encourages the brain to think more abstractly; to see what might be.
  2. Stretch – extend your line of thinking beyond the obvious. For example, if it rained all day every day, how would we stay dry? Keep going and you might invent a better umbrella!
  3. Ridiculous – Today’s ridiculous is tomorrow’s innovation. 20 years ago, cameras on phones would have been laughed at. Look for parallels in a business sector you know.
  4. Mind maps™ – Tony Buzan has helped countless people become more creative by introducing them to mind mapping. It’s a lateral, rather than linear way to make notes. Try it.
  5. Context – You’ll often find that what works in one place can adapted to work elsewhere. Look for your answers in less than obvious places. For example road workers wear high visibility jackets for safety reasons. Could high visibility clothing become popular in night clubs where it’s also dark and difficult to find your friend?
  6. Sleep on it – it is true that if you ponder on a problem late at night, your sub-conscious mind will often work out some solutions whilst you sleep.
  7. Two heads – creative thinking in a group can sometimes get you answers faster. Use a whiteboard, flipchart or just large sheets of paper to write down what you each think. Other people’s ideas will accelerate your own creative thinking.
  8. Return – don’t try to complete the process in one go. Sometimes it’s good to put your emerging idea to one side and pick it up again later. You’ll see things afresh that way.
  9. Exercise – do your creative thinking on the move. Even a brisk walk increases your heart rate ad the blood flow to your brain. Exercise can fuel creativity.
  10. Chocolate – we all need the excuse to indulge ourselves so why not make your creative thinking sessions special by allowing yourself some treats?

Creativity is really little more than thinking beyond the obvious or presenting familiar things in new ways. In enterprise, creativity is important because you constantly have new barriers to overcome. Competitors, customers and your own curiosity will prompt you to think creatively about what you do.

Top Tip

Everything is new when you see it for the first time

We can usually remember vividly our first day at school. It’s a big change and for many rather frightening. Yet every year, children start school for the first time. The teachers have seen it all before, but for their students, it’s a completely new experience.

When you’re thinking creatively, remember that what you offer people doesn’t have to be totally new. It only has to be new to them


You can read more of Robert’s checklists in his book Brilliant Checklists for Entrepreneurs: Your Shortcut to Success

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Robert Ashton

About Robert Ashton

Robert Ashton is an entrepreneur, campaigner and business author with three business books in the top 10 recommended for business on Amazon. He knows how enterprise can liberate, empower and strengthen people and communities. Robert is always focused on the end goal but treads lightly as he goes – that’s why he’s called the barefoot entrepreneur.

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