Did you ever think someone would tell you to daydream, get sleepy, go on vacation, or have a drink before doing your job? Well, Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, has several suggestions on how to get creative:
Have a drink.
Researchers at U of Illinois compared sober and intoxicated students solving word problems, and drunk students solved nearly 30% more problems. (I think my college son used this excuse before one of his mid-terms. He didn’t see the same results.)
Paint your office walls blue.
A study in 2009 found that subjects solved twice as many puzzles when surrounded by the color blue because it leads to more relaxed thinking. Red, on the other hand, makes subjects more alert, so it would be better for analyzing problems.
People at their least alert time of day were up to 50% better at creative puzzles. (Yawn.)
Think like a kid.
When people imagined themselves as 7-year-olds, they scored much higher on divergent thinking, such as inventing alternative uses for an old tire. (What if you never grew up in the first place?)
Laugh a little.
If people watch a short video of standup comedy before starting, they can solve more insight puzzles.
Students at Indiana U were better at puzzles when told they came from California or Greece, not locally. (Of course, they also could have been thinking about Spring Break.)
Use verbs and terms that are general rather than specific – “moving” rather than “driving” – to increase the number of problems solved.
Literally work outside the box.
People did significantly better on tests when they were seated next to a 5 foot square box. (Apparently the threat of working inside the box was an incentive to do better?)
See the world.
Students who have studied abroad are more open-minded when solving puzzles. Lehrer also cites how the work of clothing designers who have lived in many countries is often rated as more creative by their peers.
Move to the big city.
Inventors that move from a small city to one twice as large will produce on average 15% more patents.