Unlocking the secret to creativity isn't always easy—just ask any college student, artist, or writer who's hit that dreaded creative block at the eleventh hour. When it comes to possessing this coveted skill, you don't have to be a professional in the arts to enjoy the benefits of generating creative juices; in fact, one marketing professor at NYU Stern School of Business has even made the case that creativity is one of the most important leadership qualities needed for a company to succeed.
Whether you're a graphic designer or a corporate executive, there are ways boost your brain power—but it involves understanding how creativity works in the first place. Over at Medium, author David Kadavy (whose book, Getting Art Done, is due out soon) shared the seven categories of creativity. Read on to discover the secret to steering clear of brain burnout, distraction, and writer's block.
Stage 1: Keep track of your priorities. "You need to have a clear picture of what you're doing. … The clearer your priorities, the more focused you can be on the task at hand," Kadavy writes. He relies heavily on the system outlined in Getting Things Done, a book written by "personal productivity guru" David Allen.
Stage 2: Make it a daily habit to generate creative work. "Whether it's [writing] 100 words a day, a 30-second song, or a new twist on a Negroni," it's important to flex your creative muscles regularly to hone your craft. "Great insights certainly come randomly, so this is why you need to roll the dice as many times as possible," says Kadavy.
Stage 3: Stay curious. "Take the time to explore things you're curious about," suggests Kadavy. "They can collide with other things to make explosive ideas. When you explore, you collect the raw materials for the insights you'll have when you generate."
Stage 4: Do all your research. "To solve a creative problem, you have to learn whatever you can about that problem," Kadavy says. This, in turn, will make it easier to generate work on a regular basis.
Stage 5: Give your brain a break. "You've heard about 10,000 hours to mastery, but you haven't heard about the 12,500 hours of rest you need, too," he explains. Citing author and The Restful Company founder Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Kadavy explains that it's crucial to give your unconscious mind some decent shut-eye. Whether it's stepping out for a walk in the park or taking a much-needed afternoon nap, this step is key to helping you think more clearly and refuel your creative energy.
Stage 6: Keep your work polished. "A great idea won't work if you don't execute it well," maintains Kadavy. For instance, "you need to make sure that bold skyscraper design won't collapse, and your novel better not have too many misspellings. When you polish, the crusty rocks you mined while generating, transform into gleaming gems."
Stage 7: Don't neglect your administrative duties. "Most of us can't afford servants to keep our lives and businesses running while we focus on our craft," notes Kadavy. Taking care of business—like paying your credit card bills, maintaining your home, and running necessary errands—will help you eliminate any possible distractions and allow you to "keep doing what you're doing."
Read all of Kadavy's creativity-boosting tips over on Medium, and then share us your top tricks for keeping those creative juices flowing.