Simple daily exercises to boost your creativity
All ideas are created equal. But some ideas are more equal than others.
Creativity is the ability to come up with new, original ideas. Connecting 2 things that didn’t previously go together. Solving a problem in a unique, out of the box way. The problem is that, for most of us, out of the box thinking can be challenging.
But, there is hope! In the words of 99designs: “creativity is a skill that is specific to an individual. For some people, it might seem to come naturally, but it is something that anyone can improve at if they give it the time and effort.”
Creativity is a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.
Practicing brainstorming ideas will actually help you come up with more ideas. And the more ideas you have the merrier. You want to get all the typical ideas out of your head (and onto paper, more on that here) so that you can make space in your head for more interesting ones. Get into the habit of thinking of multiple solutions to any problem. Then, you can filter all those ideas down to the most creative and effective solution.
You can stretch your creative muscle by repeating the same activity in different ways. This will train your brain to come up with many ideas, perspectives and approaches to the same problem. First will come the more typical ideas, but then you can move on to the more unique, original and creative ones.
Here are some simple exercises that, when done consistently, can help improve your creativity:
This is a great exercise when you’re on the go. Simply take a sheet of paper and make a series of plain circles. Then draw something different out of each circle. The sky’s the limit here and everything is on the table. You can draw in the circle - around the circle - through the circle. Whatever you want.
Don’t worry about perfection - the goal is for quantity over quality. See how many you can come up with. You’ll find that once you start and get into a groove the ideas will just keep on flowing.
This exercise was created by James Martin (@made.by.james). Use the same base letter and come up with as many monogram letter combinations as you can. Start off with 3 a day and see how many days you can keep going. When you’re really done with that letter, move on to the next one.
This is a little vague so feel free to take it in the direction you’re most passionate about. Take 1 design, whether it’s an event flyer, a logo, an illustration, a web design or whatever you want, and redesign it every day (or every week if it’s a time-consuming project). You can choose what aspect you want to focus on: layout, colors, fonts, style or something else entirely.
For instance, you could take an Instagram post and each time use a different color palette for the same design. This will strengthen your understanding of which colors work best together and also the effect that different color schemes can have on the same copy and layout. The whole vibe of the design will change through the seemingly simple act of changing the colors.
An Extra Idea
Pause before leaping into your daily work. When you plan a design, sketch out 3 different concepts instead of just 1 or 2. Each time you’re designing something push yourself to create that 1 extra concept. When you feel like you have enough ideas to head to the computer, think of 1 additional idea.
This is my personal favorite exercise because it doesn’t take much extra time when you’re already in brainstorm mode to think of one extra idea. You don’t have to set aside extra time at night - it fits straight into your daily activities that you’re doing anyway. It can even help you down he road if your initial ideas don’t pan out or a client rejects them and you have to start over. You already have an extra unused idea in reserve.
If you’re worried about flaking off and not keeping your commitment to your new daily or weekly exercise, find an accountability partner. This can be a friend or even Instagram. And when you’ve done your exercise for a significant amount of time, it can even become a portfolio piece. So keep your eyes on the prize.
You got this!
For additional creativity exercises, check out this article on 99designs and Creative Live’s 28 to Make course: