You need to be an artist or have a career in music to have great creativity skills, right? Wrong! In fact anyone can develop brilliant creativity skills, and it doesn’t have anything to do with drawing a picture, taking a photo, writing a piece of music or anything else artistic.
Creativity skills, also known as creative thinking skills, essentially means being able to come up with something new. It means looking at things in a new way. And these abilities are really important for the workplace — no matter what job you end up doing. In fact, they’re one of the key employability skills you need.
If you’re wondering why creativity is important at work, it’s because creative thinking involves seeing the potential in a situation, rather than just a big problem.
So employers are keen to hire staff who take a creative and imaginative approach, coming up with great solutions and new ways to do things.
Employees who think outside the box help make the business a success. And this also includes people in science, technology and engineering and maths roles. They need creative thinking skills just as much as anyone else – maybe even more so! Questioning things and not making any assumptions (ie thinking creatively) is crucial in science jobs.
Another myth is that creativity skills can’t be improved, that you either have them or you don’t. Wrong again! There are plenty of ways to improve creative thinking skills – just like you work on your communication skills or your leadership abilities.
So in this guide we’ll look at 6 surprising ways to improve creative thinking skills. Practice these exercises and you’ll be a master of creative thinking before you know it.
1. Ask weird questions
Let’s say you’re facing a conundrum at your part-time job, for example you need to rearrange a shop-window display at your retail job. One creative way to approach this would be to ask unusual questions. How would your friends approach the display? How would someone from another country deal with it? What about someone from another planet?! It might sound a bit silly, but this creativity skills exercise helps your brain come up with creative new ways to tackle the task.
2. Have fun with your friends
That’s right, for this creative thinking exercise, all you need to do is hang out with your mates or colleagues. Play a sport, try out your new video game or catch up on some Netflix. Chilling out and having a chat with your friends helps you relax and gets the creative ideas flowing. Afterwards you might found you’ve magically come up with an imaginative answer to a problem that’s been bothering you.
3. Try working when you’re tired
Okay, so it’s obviously not a good idea to do your part-time job or sit an exam when you’re exhausted. But next time you need to come up with some new ideas for an essay or presentation, try brainstorming when you’re sleepy. Creative thinking actually works better when we’re tired, because our minds wander off on tangents, helping to come up with new approaches or thoughts. Research has shown we’re better at thinking outside the box at these times.
4. Write 500 words... any words!
Do this writing exercise: sit down at your computer or tablet and just start writing – it doesn’t matter if it’s complete nonsense or jibberish, just type 500 words. You’ll probably end up with some weird and crazy stuff – it won’t turn into an essay for school but it’ll get those creative juices flowing and help you develop creative thinking skills.
5. Go for a run
It doesn’t have to be a run. You could cycle, go swimming or just go for a stroll. Research has shown that exercising can increase your ability to think creatively. So next time you’re in a rut, get active!
6. Keep a notebook of your ideas
When you’re daydreaming on the bus to school or when you’re browsing Instagram, keep a note of any random ideas that pop into your head. Note them down in your phone or carry a notebook with you. Even if the ideas don’t turn into anything special, the act of dreaming them up will develop your creativity skills.
Ready to get creative? Check out these other important skills for work.