How You Sabotage Your Creativity Every Day
We often talk about simple things we can do to boost creativity and create more magical eureka moments, but many of us tend to sabotage creativity more than we develop it. Here are some of the self-sabotaging things you probably do every day.
You bang your head about a problem without taking breaks.
When you get stuck in something, it’s easy to bang your head over a problem until you solve it, but science suggests this is a terrible approach. Over the years, research after research has shown that taking breaks and getting rid of boredom is the key to generating new ideas.
Why? It’s pretty simple: when you take a break and get a little bored, it signals your brain that you need fresh ideas, which stimulates creative thinking. Call it daydreaming, letting your mind wander, or whatever, but when your brain does that, it approaches problems from a new perspective. When you’re bored, you want to stop bored, which means your brain is looking for new solutions, which is why some of our best ideas come in the shower .
This is because the brain has several different modes when it comes to these things: “focused mode” when you are learning or working, and “diffuse mode” when you are more relaxed. It turns out that we are more creative when we are in “diffuse mode”. Various studies have shown that we are more creative in this diffuse mode, including when we are drowsy , asleep, and a little drunk .
It’s the same with interruptions. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows that something as simple as walking can boost your creativity, and other studies have shown the same ( exercise can help, too ). We’re not sure why this is, but walking probably lifts your spirits a bit and also allows your mind to be distracted from work, which helps you overcome those creative blocks.
Regardless of how you do it, take more breaks throughout the day. Even naps can help improve your creativity if used correctly.
You stay in your comfort zone and isolate yourself
It’s pretty easy to get stuck in your comfort zone where you’re not experiencing anything new. While this is useful for efficiency, it kills your creativity in every way. When you stay in your comfort zone, you also tend to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. When you do this, you are not creating new experiences, meeting new people, meeting new cultures, or challenging yourself. It kills your creativity faster than you think.
For example, in an interview with researcher Adam Galinski, The Atlantic notes that travel and cultural immersion are key factors in supporting creative thinking in the brain:
“The key, critical process is multicultural interaction, immersion and adaptation. Someone who lives abroad and is not associated with the local culture is likely to receive less creativity than someone who travels abroad and really participates in the local environment. ” In other words, going to Cancun for a week during Spring Break probably won’t make a person more creative. But going to Cancun and living with local fishermen is possible.
In one of Galinsky’s studies, he spoke with creative directors who lived in other countries, and then assessed their creativity on different scales. Creative directors who have lived abroad and immersed themselves in culture have consistently ranked higher in innovation.
Stepping out of your comfort zone to be creative is nothing new , but the key takeaway here isn’t that you should book a ticket to another country every year – you just need to experience something new. It can be as easy as driving to new parts of the city or digging into cultural roots somewhere nearby. Discover new things and take the time to truly understand them. You will be surprised how creative you are.
You imitate others instead of knowing what works for you.
We talk a lot aboutdifferent people ‘sapproaches to creativity, and understanding how other creatives work is a good starting point, but it’s not the end of the conversation. As we mentioned earlier, imitating successful people is not a magic wand. Just because you’re a fan of Ernest Hemingway doesn’t mean you have to start living on his schedule.
However, graphs can be helpful. There is a myth that creativity occurs unexpectedly, which may seem true, but it is not. This is more about working constantly at times when you feel most creative. You can pinpoint this time if you need to, but chances are you already know when you are most creative . Plan your day accordingly. Do not look for other people’s routines for nothing but inspiration, because this is not a universal approach. You don’t need to just because Einstein dozed in a certain way at a certain time.
This idea goes far beyond simple planning. We tend to glorify stories of creative geniuses and try to recreate these creative bursts for ourselves. This does not work. Steve Jobs started Apple in a garage, but that doesn’t mean you have to start a company from your own. Don’t copy specifics. Instead, combine ideas that make sense to you and your system, and then move on.
You ignore side projects
How many creative projects do you have now? 10? twenty? Hundreds? When you come up with these ideas, you feel creative, but without their implementation, they are (for the most part) useless.
Whether it’s a side project or a work project, it’s easy to sabotage yourself by not giving yourself time to work on the project. We do this for various reasons, it can be fear of failure or being overly busy , but not working on these projects only makes the situation worse. Research published in the European Journal of Labor and Organizational Psychology indicates that these creative side projects are essential for recovery and, you guessed it, more creativity:
From a psychological point of view, it would be better if people engage in activities in which they look for problems and try to match them to their skills. Obviously, this also applies to work: optimal experience is positively correlated with mental health.
However, in our society, leisure is used as an “escape” from work. Escapism in this regard means that people do not seek meaningful leisure activities for their own growth and development, but instead resort to passive activities to avoid everyday stresses and problems. These behaviors are often associated with passive lifestyles and boredom, which in turn can lead to apathy and depression.
Side projects don’t have to be correlated with your other creative pursuits. The point of the side project is to nurture your brain during downtime so that when you return to other creative pursuits, you will have new perspectives, experiences and ideas.
Of course, all sorts of obstacles arise on the way to the implementation of side creative projects . After all, we are talking about how to make yourself to start work on these projects a little each day . The creative mind may seem like it doesn’t need this, but without these side projects, your other creative work will suffer.