10 Brain Tricks to Boost Your Creativity and Productivity
A lot of people struggle with creativity and productivity. You might be at your desk for hours surfing the internet, or sit with your head in your hands as you grasp for your next great idea.
There are several strategies you can use to help boost your creativity and productivity, though. You don’t have to sit there and wait until the mood strikes you. Here, we’ve listed ten brain tricks that will help improve your creativity and productivity in both the short and the long-term.
1. Reward Yourself
The reward system is more of a way to boost productivity than it is to increase creativity. Creativity is a reward in itself for a lot of people, and there isn’t a reward that can fix a lack of inspiration. You’ll have to take a look at other tips on this list for creativity-focused effects, though this one might work for the creatives as well.
Rewarding yourself with incremental perks is a fantastic way to improve your productivity throughout the day. Did your favorite YouTube creator come out with a new video? Watch it after you’ve finished an hour’s worth of work. Do you need a coffee? Save it for when you’ve completed the task you’re currently working on.
A lot of these rewards will be things you would have done anyway. They’re a great way to take a break from your daily tasks which is necessary from time to time but this can get out of hand. You may go down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos instead of watching the one in which you were interested.
Instead of letting your mind wander, use these impulses and breaks as rewards for a job well done. Have that brownie once you’ve finished your task instead of having it right away.
2. Get Moving
Exercise is one of the best brain tricks we can give you for stimulating productivity and creativity at the same time. If you work in an office or go to school, you probably spend most of your day sitting down. The inertia of the day can stifle your creativity and make you feel tired, leading to procrastination and low productivity.
Working out at the end of the day can help boost your overall productivity, but that isn’t all you can do. You can also go for a walk, which research has shown will stimulate your creativity and productivity.
The tip is particularly useful for the creatives. Creativity isn’t the same as productivity, and the remedies for lack of either are often different. You could be the most productive person in the world, but if you don’t have a good idea, you’ll remain stuck.
Going for a walk gets the blood moving and gets your mind away from your work. You’ll come back feeling more energized and ready to come up with that next great idea.
3. Do the Most Important Work First
This is one of the brain tricks that sounds simple, but you probably aren’t utilizing it: do the most important and most difficult tasks first. A lot of us tend to start with the easy work to start our day. We ease ourselves into the flow of things by trying to get the easy stuff “out of the way,” but this can actually have a negative effect on creativity and productivity.
If you have a massive project looming over your head, you’ll keep thinking about it while you’re finishing the smaller tasks. This influence will discourage you, reduce your creativity, and cause you to procrastinate even more.
Make a list of priorities with the most important task at the top. Start from there every day, and work your way down the list. You’ll find that when you have an hour or two left in the workday and all the tough jobs completed your mind will be working a lot better.
4. Change Where You’re Working
Another fantastic tip for boosting both creativity and productivity is to change where you’re working. Your environment has a lot to do with how you’re feeling and how productive you might be. Staying in one spot all day can be a drain on your mind.
Instead of sitting at your desk in your home office, try hitting a coffee shop. The change of scenery is often enough to knock an idea loose or wake you up out of your midday slump.
Changing your surroundings is like hitting the reset button on your brain. Instead of being comfortable where you are, your mind is alert and ready for anything. You’ll feel more awake and focused on the tasks in front of you because your brain has to process all of the new information.
5. Talk to Other People
Creatives tend to be alone for the bulk of their workday. Whether you’re writing articles, creating music, or editing videos, the work is often a solo endeavor. A lot of creative people are fine with this, though, and some prefer to work alone.
Although working on your own might be the best option for you, it isn’t always ideal if you’re struggling with productivity or creative ideas. In fact, getting out into the world or talking with a friend can get you back into the groove faster than sitting at your desk scrolling through Instagram.
Externalizing your thoughts could spark a new idea. It might give you the inspiration you need to finish the project you’ve been working on finally. Get out of your head for a bit and have a conversation with someone else.
Meditation is becoming more popular as the Western world experiences the mental and physical benefits of the practice. You can’t exactly jump into meditation with both feet, but you can start practicing and notice the difference in your productivity and creativity once you do.
Meditation and cognitive function go hand-in-hand. Researchers have explored the relationship between meditation and creativity, and have found that the effects of meditation - often a positive mood - will boost the creative function in your brain.
The same is true of meditation and productivity. Meditation gives your mind a break, and it teaches you the skills of ignoring distractions and clearing your mind. These tools are invaluable when you’re considering creativity and productivity since the root of these problems often stems from a cluttered mind.
7. Take Perfection Out of the Equation
One of the biggest roadblocks on the path to productivity and creativity is the tendency to seek perfection. Some professions require perfection, but the creative jobs can almost never reach this ideal. There will always be someone who dislikes your work, and there will always be critics who think you could have done better.
Don’t worry about being perfect, because you never will be. Seeking perfection will only cause you stress, which will limit your creativity and productivity. Some are even paralyzed by the fear of lack of perfection to the point where they’re completely stuck.
Accept that you’re going to make mistakes, and don’t worry about them. Get your work done, then worry about what you have to fix later.
8. Brain Games
Brain games aren’t just for keeping you sharp as you age. Chances are, your brain isn’t working to its full capacity right now. There are dozens of brain training apps you can find on your phone or computer, and all of these games stimulate your brain to increase creativity, problem-solving skills, and productivity.
Brain training programs are particularly useful if you regularly struggle with creativity. They will give you practice in thinking outside the box and reacting quickly, which will help when it comes time to get your work done.
9. Set a Schedule
One of the simplest ways to boost productivity is to set a schedule for yourself. If you have to complete a bunch of tasks on a daily basis, you’re only hurting your productivity if you don’t give yourself a schedule. Procrastination sets in when you’re free-flowing your tasks, and 5:00 will come around with only half of your work completed.
A schedule gives you structure and a sense of reward. There’s nothing better than scratching-off a task on a to-do list. You’ll feel the weight roll off your shoulders, and will be much more productive and creative as you tackle the next few items on your list.
10. Start With What You’re Good At
You might be inclined to start your day with the most difficult task on your list. We have a tip above talking about the most important function on your to-do list, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most difficult.
No matter what you’re doing, always start with the part you find the easiest. This will usually be the bulk of the project in creative work, with the end being a menial task or two to wrap it up.
You will finish these tasks much quicker with this strategy, and it won’t stifle your creativity right at the beginning of a project.