I get it! You’re busy and tired and probably have kids hanging off you at various points throughout the day or parents nagging you to come round for dinner once in a while. You have dreams of being more creative, writing more, making more, but you feel like your life keeps getting in the way.
I hear you! My life is crazy busy. I have three kids who homeschool, run a tech startup, host a podcast, write blog posts and service marketing clients. By the end of the day, all I want to do is stare vacantly into space.
Producing quality content on a consistent basis means you need to get yourself off your computer and fuel your creativity. In today’s post I want to share with you 25 ways you can do just that, because you’ve got better things to do than sit in front of a screen all day.
Each of these ideas can take as little as 1 minute or as much as 4 hours. It’s really up to you. Perhaps start with a few minutes and work your way up to a longer stretch if you feel time poor already. I promise you, it will help you be more productive and more creative.
1. Weed a garden bed
Get your gloves and gumboots on and go outside and pull weeds out. There is something really satisfying about tidying up a corner of your garden. It also gives your brain downtime to drift off. Did you know that some of the fundamentals for the Writally app were created as I pulled out weeds in my garden? Weeding is also an awesome collaborative activity. I’ve spent many an afternoon chatting and weeding with friends. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? 🙂 Honestly though, once one person starts, everyone else joins in and it become a cathartic process.
2. Get bored… do nothing
Boredom sparks creativity. Your brain is hardwired to want to fill the void. My kids often complain their bored but, usually, after presented with a bunch of undesirable tasks that I need doing, they wander off and, surprise, surprise, find something to do. Many parents I know try to avoid boredom at all costs. They take iPads along to dinner outings and can’t stand vacations where nothing is planned. The problem is, when you’re constantly filling your life with activity it leaves no space to daydream and your creativity might be stifled as a result. Just like kids, grownups need downtime to figure out what it is they really want to do.
3. Sleep on it
Rather than stay up late and stare at a blank screen, switch off the screens and the lights and get some sleep. Sleep helps your brain process problems. It also adds years to your life. If you’re not sleeping well, consider investigating why. I once spent a night wired up to a sleep testing machine because I had not slept well for months. I know when I sleep well, I function better. How about you?
4. Hang out the laundry
Hanging laundry on the washing line is a mundane task and mundane tasks help your brain release oxytocin, the feel good hormone. This hormone primes your brain for creative thought. Next time you balk at taking the laundry outside, think about how that downtime might help you release stress and create new ideas. Your next pile of washing might just lead to your billion dollar idea.
5. Do something arty but not on the computer
Make something crafty, draw, paint or sculpt. Using your hands to create something random helps with stress relief and helps you process problems. Even better, do something crafty with your kids (if your a parent). If you’re not a parent, consider borrowing some kids to enjoy some fun creative play. Sometimes watching kids be arty is incredibly entertaining.
6. Go to a busy shopping mall or park and people watch
Watching and observing people’s behaviour off line can be fascinating and help get you out of a thinking rut. We spend so much time looking at screens– our phones, our iPads, laptops, TVs and very little time looking up and around us. What do you notice when you’re looking up? What have you been missing? Observing people isn’t creepy so long as you’re not stalking anyone or making it obvious you’re watching them. It’s a great way to develop empathy and understanding and these lead to ideas and connection.
Swimming is a terrific way to let your mind drift off. Water is not only soothing but it releases your body from gravity, and alters your senses. Some people are afraid of the water and that’s okay, but if you’re not, consider going for a swim to help your brain reset.
Knitting is a repetitive activity that releases oxytocin. This not only makes you feel relaxed, it also helps others around you feel relaxed. Knitting is also a great activity to do in company. Consider starting a knitting circle. One of my entrepreneurial friends did just that and has made some great friendships as a result. Even better, is if you can knit for a cause. Consider making blankets for people living in shelters or for premature babies. Knitting with a goal in mind is a great way to unwind and let your creativity flow!
9. Shoot some hoops
Focusing your attention on developing your goal shooting skills can give your brain a break from thinking about everything else you have to do. When you master a task, it can be hugely satisfying and can help develop your logic and problem solving skills.
10. Visit an art gallery
You can’t expect to think creatively if your brain isn’t provoked and inspired. Art can inspire thoughts that will enrich your creativity. Studies show that when we see creative examples it helps break through creative blocks. If you’re thinking about your business 24/7 you won’t have room to think about anything else. There is much beauty to experience in this world. Don’t prevent yourself from growing and learning from it.
11. Visit a Japanese Garden
Japanese gardens are renowned for helping people get in touch with their Zen. The sculptured shapes of bonsai trees and dainty, carefully manicured gardens has a calming effect on the mind.
12. Walk barefoot on the grass or sand
There’s something really grounding and therapeutic about taking your shoes off and making direct contact with the ground. Just watch out for anthills. Close your eyes and concentrate on the sensation of your feet against the earth or grass. It can help you build awareness and connect to nature.
13. Smell flowers
The delicious aroma of perfumed roses is enough to replenish anyone’s senses and refresh your brain. If you haven’t had freshly cut flowers in your home for a while, visit a local flower market and buy yourself a big bunch. I promise you, it will brighten your day!
14. Bake cookies
While we’re on the topic of aromas, baking cookies activates your brain’s pleasure centre and creates feel good hormones which inspire creativity. Plus, life is too short not to bake something delicious! You don’t have to go down the fat-laden sugary route either. Check out some the wonderful recipes on themerrymakersisters.com website for some healthy treat inspiration.
15. Shred paper
There is something cathartic about shredding paper or shredding mulch. Your brain can disengage for a bit which means that your creativity will have room to grow. Plus, shredding paper to put on your garden beds is a great use of your paper waste, which in turn makes you feel good and by now you know that feel good hormones help you be more creative.
16. Visit a second hand clothing store
Searching for a bargain second hand item can be a lot of fun and can activate a different area of your brain than what you’d use sitting at your desk. When you find a treasured designer piece for a few dollars, that releases adrenalin and give you a natural high which can fire you up to be more creative.
17. Take a walk in the countryside
There’s nothing like fresh air and country vistas to inspire you day! Just the simple act of breathing in fresh air can spark inspiration and creativity. Focus on the different scents and sounds that surround you when you’re out in nature.
18. Visit a waterfall
Water releases negative ions which can enhance your brain activity and therefore your creativity. Maybe that sounds like voodoo but have you ever noticed how a waterfall or fountain can make you feel differently? If you like waterfalls and they don’t make you want to rush to the toilet, then consider visiting one to change the outlook of your day.
19. Catch a ferry
Following on from the waterfall, the feeling of being on the water in a boat can engage different areas of your brain and expose you to a greater volume of negative ions. Now that we’ve moved closer to the city, we sometimes travel in via the ferry and it is such a relaxing way to travel into town.
20. Play make believe with your kids
Child’s play is a highly under-utilised tool in my opinion. Get your creative on with your kids and watch their amazing imaginations at work as they play. Dressups are great fun for little ones and if your older kids are into comic books, Cosplay events like Comic Con and Super Nova can be a great inspiration for getting into character. There are also role playing games or even just Chirades.
21. Build an indoor cubby house
On that note, get right into the creative play and build an indoor cubby house. A sheet over the dining room table is magic and you can all hide away under there reading books and playing cards for hours. Your kids will love it and so will you. You’ll feel energised and refreshed and ready to create! Alternatively, you may be having so much fun you might not want to come out!
22. Swing on a swing
One of my favourite things to do is swing… and I’m not talking the adult variety… no no… swinging on a swing is fun, invigorating and joyful. And guess what happens when you allow your body and mind to enjoy the ride?… you feel the wind against your face and give yourself space to be more creative.
23. Read a magazine
I know right… how quaint! Magazines are awesome for inspiring ideas. An even better idea is to grab a whole bunch and cut your pictures and words that resonate with you, then paste them onto poster board.
24. Go out for coffee
I walk my dog to the local coffee bar every morning, not because my own coffee isn’t as good (it really isn’t) but because it changes my perspective and mood. Just watching the way my dog interacts with the customers and sniffs everything in site is fun to watch and it helps set the tone for the rest of my day. You may not have a coffee bar within walking distance. It might be a local deli, a fruit store, a market or newsagents. Find reason to change your outlook and get going.
25. Read an awesome, real book
Whenever I feel over it and just want to empty my head of busy-ness, one of my go-to resources is a great non-fiction or fictional book. There’s nothing like getting lost in a good story and it fuels your imagination. When was the last time you read a good book?
Regardless of your lifestyle or circumstances, I hope this list helps you find at least one thing you can do to foster more creativity in your life.
What do you do to release creativity? Leave a comment and let me know.
This is a variation on a blog post originally posted on casmccullough.com.