Creativity has been a hot topic in the media for a while now, from reports that schools are killing creativity, to teenagers thinking creativity is an unimportant skill to have; the fact we have a creative industry at all is a minor miracle.
It's been found that those of us working in an office environment - regardless of the industry sector - spend up to 75% of our working hours sitting at a desk answering emails. If this is the case, how are any of us expected to be creative and what can we do to get out of this rut and tap into our natural creativity?
Before you say 'I'm not naturally creative', I'm going to have to disagree with you. Studies have shown that 1/3 of our creativity is genetic and 2/3 is our environment, so there are no excuses.
My 'light bulb' moment happened one evening when I was watching Channel 4's The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds. The kids themselves are incredibly insightful and can actually teach us a lot about engaging our creative muscle as adults. Working at a branding agency, creativity is obviously key so I've taken note of what the four olds have mastered, and highlighted the key findings to offer readers an opportunity to re-connect with their creative side.
1. Feed your mind - Under-fives are into everything
Stimulate your imagination by experimenting with new things. Whether it's consuming art, culture, ideas or new technology, try things that take you out of your comfort zone. This allows you to draw inspiration from external sources and helps cross-pollinate ideas - in and out of the workplace. Don't be afraid to borrow, mix it up and try working with different genres and ideas - you never know what might work or happen.
2. Ask questions - 4 year olds ask questions all the time
I tell everyone I work with to ask questions; the more the better. It's the best way to learn. Asking questions gives you a deeper understanding and leads to better decision making. It forces you to ask if there is a better way of doing something: has this been done before? If not, why not? Asking these questions, and not being afraid to look stupid, can often lead to creative solutions and innovative ideas.
3. Daydream - I particularly love the sound of this...
Studies have shown that the brain is better at processing complex ideas and being more creative when we're not thinking about anything in particular. For example a study that was carried out by Oppezzo and Schwartz showed that walking can improve creativity by 60%, which means taking breaks and a lunch-break is important. And sometimes just sitting back from a complex problem and allowing your brain to wander aimlessly can give you the breakthrough that you have been wrestling to find. Make time to daydream.
4. Mix with different people - 4 year olds interact with everyone
Meeting new people makes you see things from different perspectives, and only good can come from this. Social Diversity is one of the most important elements to feed creativity and can produce astonishing breakthroughs, especially in group situations. Being out of your comfort zone and not being afraid of creative tension, can open you up to ideas and solutions you wouldn't have reached with those people who are just like you.
5. And MOST importantly, get enough sleep
It might be obvious, but we feel more refreshed, positive and resilient once we have a good night's sleep, which contributes enormously to creative thinking. It's also been proven that if you sleep on a problem, you're more likely to find a solution. Take your time, for instance don't do full day workshops - split into afternoon and morning so there is a restorative sleep in the middle. We all like to solve a problem, and sleep and rest help us get there quicker.
Creativity is a great motivator - it makes us happy and more fulfilled at home and at work. Every industry benefits from its creative thinkers. The creative industry itself creates 1.9 million jobs in the U.K and is increasing. Being creative isn't a dying art form, and we should practice it at all ages.
So find your four year old self - take some time out of your day and have a little day dream; see what you are capable of and remember, creativity is a muscle - see what happens when you flex it.