Unlock your creativity: 20 tips & books

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I think everyone faced a situation when you are not inspired to create, when you think that you are not creative and when you run out of ideas. If you want to unlock your creativity, then you have to understand yourself, your working practices, your habits, your faults and your inspirators, your idols that you admire. If you think that creative activities is not for you, think about this interesting fact: George Washington University study of 300 senior citizens found that “ creative activities, such as art and writing, slow the aging process, resulting in fewer doctor visits and better mental health.” Creativity is something that you are not born with, creativity is something that you develop during your life. Every person can be creative! There are some common practices of all creative and genius people and right now we will look at them to help you unlock your creativity.  





Set a goal, determine what you need to do and do it regardless of the hours spent on this task. Instead of calculating the hours worked during the week, you work, focusing on your goals. It is proven that it is much more productive and motivating.  



The working day, nine to six, was designed with one idea in mind, so that everyone was doing everything at the same time; people would answer the phones, and everyone could work together. Nowadays, we have all the tools to work remotely. Of course it depends on your position and role in the company, but if you don’t really need to be in the office 8 hours a day, don’t be there! Don’t force yourself to work 8 hours if you have a headache or you are not inspired. I will be stock anyways. You can work 5 hours on Monday, but then if you go to a beautiful place in Thursday with an incredible view, probably you will be on the mood of creating and sometimes it takes more than 8 hours. The most creative people in the world have almost never kept to simple 8 hours. Normally, early hours are a common theme in creative people. For example, Emmanuel Kant got up at 5am each morning to start work, and most writers find waking mind ideal for creation. Lately, later hours are more common I should say, particularly among creative people in the design industry or developers. But basically, the most important is that if the option is available to you, work whenever you feel the best. This might be early morning, or it might be throughout the night, but finding the right routine for your mind is important to get the most out of your abilities and unlock your creativity.  



The most creative people throughout history have always known that it is as important for the mind to rest, and play, as it is for it to work. Unfortunately, modern life seems to reward people who are work-machines. We idolise those people who work all hours and focus entirely on that. Though they may be quickly successful, in the long term such people will burn out. And in most of the cases this kind of people work on non creative tasks, mostly on routine ones, I would say. Your brain and body needs the time to recuperate and relax for you to come up with the best ideas and be the most creative. You may set a rule for yourself, for example whatever happens I should have a 1 hour break for lunch, 3 hours to relax and go out of the office/home and sleep at least 8 hours a day. Each person has different ways to rest, but the main idea is this one.



The concept of creativity is often closely linked to arts, and we can actually count with our fingers people are considered creative within society. I think that almost everyone has significant creative capacity, and it is only a lack of practice and confidence that holds them back. Usually this confidence was provoked early in life when they were told their ideas just weren’t good. Most people have zero confidence in their own creative abilities and this is the main reason of their failure. Be confident makes you have a second breath, makes you work on your baby work, makes you tell the world about you. If you don’t believe in your own work, who will? You are the one who creates, you know what is behind your art, tell people about it. Art is very subjective, you will always have haters and lovers. Focus on lovers, find soulmates, believe in yourself.



Change the place where you work, work from the office, work from home, work from cafeteria, work near the sea, in the forest, in the morning looking at the sunrise and in the evening looking at the sunset. Change the working environment, it boosts creative thinking, it helps to unlock your creativity.  



University of British Columbia study showed that blue is a creativity-enhancing color.  



Commune with nature. Have you ever thought why leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey regularly hold walking meetings? If you watch spy movies you would think that probably it’s because of confidentiality reasons, etc. But not really, being outside actually helps you to open your mind, notice things which you would never see being in the office. If you spend all your days in the same place, you don’t see what is going on in the world now, you can see it on your computer, but it’s not the same. Nature is beauty, nature is balance, nature is our essence. It really helps clean your mind and start again. It is inspiring, it helps you to unlock your creativity. Go to the countryside from time to time, take your team for a BBQ, for a camping or whatever. Have you ever notices that the most disruptive ideas are born when you are not in a formal situation and more particularly, not in the office? I am not saying that you should never come to the office, no, you should have it to have meetings, meet your colleagues, etc. But don’t spend 100% of your working time there.  

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Unlock your creativity by signing up for a class in something you’ve never done before. Creativity starts when you push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Creative courses could be anything from creative writing to photo and video to music, art, and design. Regardless which course you take, you’ll use different ways of thinking, try different approaches to working that you can apply to your own work. Plus, it may help you discover some of your strengths and work on your weaknesses.  



Many creative design companies encourage employees to keep toys on their desks; from Legos to origami paper. Building something physically with your hands, instead of typing on a keyboard, can help you to see your work from the different angle, generate other ideas. One of the easiest ways to unlock your creativity.



Sketching is a great way to save memories and make constructive use of time when you don’t have anything to do when you are in a train or you are waiting for a doctor appointment. And well, you never know when and where you will get inspired, you should always have something with you, where you can write down your ideas or maybe even draw them. Very simple and effective way to unlock you creativity! Buy a small sketchbook that can easily fit in your bag and have a habit of taking it everywhere with you. Draw everything that you like, sometimes things that you think can’t go together is that creative solution that world was waiting for! You may be disappointed in your sketches at first, the more you draw, the better you’ll get. Don’t think too much on your results, create!  



There are many activities like this one, but just to give you one visual example, I decided to talk about this 30 circles test. It’s easy, it’s funny and it helps you unlock your creativity. Everyone can do it. Actually, this great creative exercise comes from researcher Bob McKim, and he was featured in Tim Brown’s TED talk Creativity and Play. Take a piece of paper and draw 30 circles on the paper. Now, in one minute, adapt as many circles as you can into objects. For example, one circle could become a sun. Another could become a globe, etc. How many can you do in a minute? Here, take quantity over quality into consideration. Most people can’t get to 30, largely because we have a tendency as adults to self-edit, kids are great at simply exploring possibilities without being self-critical.  



Visualize what you are doing. Even a working process, visualize it, it will help you to see the situation differently. When you see things clearly, you have more ideas.  



Ask a child about your idea, your piece of art. Children are not afraid to tell you the truth, children have different ideas and sometimes they are faster to find the right solution to the problem as sometimes it is easier than adults think. It may seem wired, but children can unlock your creativity.  



Ask the most creative person you know about your project. Don’t be afraid, be opened to the critique or constructive feedback and learn from the best. Connect with creative people, be in their community, be with like-minded people, you can learn from them a lot. Sharing experience with creative minds is a good start towards your creativity development. When you are stuck with your own ideas, it is a good way to dive into the creativity of others and get inspired. Surrounding yourself with people with whom you can share and get their opinions, actually it is not only good for your creativity, it’s good for your career. Also, looking at these creative geniuses, their own drive will keep you motivated to do your best work. A healthy dose of competition could be just what the doctor ordered when you need to force yourself to really spark your inner creative spirit, to unlock your creativity. These communities of creative people may change your way of thinking and sometimes its key for creativity, sometimes you need to see the situation differently to come up with something new and interesting. Creative minds are different, creative people behave differently, they dress differently, well you can always notice a creative person, what I want to say by that is that if you speak with different people like this, imagine how many different ideas you will get, you will have not a 360 perspective on your piece of art, but even more. To start networking with other creative minds, you can explore people’s work in platforms like Behance, Dribbble, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.  



If you’re looking to connect with creative people in person, attend conferences and networking events related to your industry, your interests and other creative events you would never think about. It’ll surround you with other people who share the goal of developing their creative skills. You can learn from your peers and review each other’s work to get a fresh perspective on your own ideas. And if you’re someone who is too nervous to ask for help in the office, a workshop could give you the opportunity to show others your work and receive feedback. By sharing your ideas with others, you’ll be forced to find ways to formulate your thoughts into words and visuals, while learning to handle critique from others. It is another very good way to unlock your creativity.  



Follow creative people on social media, look not only on their piece of art, but on their comments, their critiques, their thoughts. Normally this kind of people post information about upcoming events, tools. They share best practices and inspirations drivers. Nowadays it is easy to stay up to date and find a way to learn from the best.  



Don’t think about 2020 or 2050, think about 2100, think about how this problem would be solved 100 years from now. How the world would look like and what people would need there. I am pretty sure everyone thought at least 1 time in your life how the future will look like, unlock your creativity and visualize it, nobody is sure 100% how it will be, you won’t be wrong in any case, just dream, just create.  



It is important to keep your mind stimulated by new sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and experiences. Experience different culture, food, nature, way of doing business, way of speaking, way of dressing, etc. Let your brain think in new ways. “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” says Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, whose research focuses on the cognitive connection between international travel and creativity. He emphasizes the importance of not just going to different places, but also immersing yourself into their culture. By engaging with the local art, cuisine, and people, you allow yourself to really learn new ways of thinking that you can later apply to your own ideas.  

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Incorporate breaks into every work day. Have you ever noticed that some of your best ideas come to you at the most random times, like the car, on the beach or the shower? There’s a reason for that: these breaks allow your mind to continue to work on these ideas without getting stuck in the same place with the same ideas. Sometimes having a small break and go out can help you advance with your ideas. As Adrian Furnman, Ph.D describes in his Psychology article, it’s important to give your thinking “incubation time” once you’ve been actively working on an idea for some time. Brian Halligan, HubSpot’s own CEO and co-founder, is a big advocate for naps at the workplace. Best ideas come to his mind when he just falling asleep or just waking up. In an interview with the New York Times, he said he pushes to make the office into an environment where employees can “work less and think more” by providing nap rooms to encourage ideas generation. He thinks that it helps to spark creativity.  



Have you hit the point in your creativity block where you’re spending hours watching different funny videos? Actually these funny videos may be helpful. Research shows there’s a strong correlation between humor and creativity. A laugh can actually bring you closer to those moments of inspiration. Humor also puts you in a better mood, allowing you to think more freely and better solve creative problems.    




Read books of people who did something new, something creative, something extraordinary in their life. Learn from the best! Reading is a great way to inspire yourself, learn about what others have done in your field and motivate yourself to do your innovative projects. There are plenty of books available out there to read about creativity, Amazon has a whole section dedicated to it, with over 5K books available. To make your life easier, we did a selection and came up with the list where you have best 20 books from this list. Don’t forget, that creativity is a skill to be learned, practiced, and developed, just like any other. According to some of the world’s most successful creative minds, creativity is something we all have. And these 20 books will help you to figure it out how to unlock your creativity.  


1.Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

In thinking fast and slow, Daniel Kahneman talks about two different thinking systems within the brain. System 1 lets us make fast decisions based on intuition, while system 2 is more deliberative and slower one. Sometimes quick, emotional decisions are great for creativity but often we need to slow down and think twice, bringing the second system into play. Daniel explores different exercises you can do to make sure that for any creative decision you make, or any creative thinking you do, you are accessing the correct part of your brain.  


2. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality – Scott Belsky

Scott has spent 6 years studying the habits of creative people and creative teams that are especially productive, the ones who bring their ideas to our lives. His study showed that all these people have 3 things in common: “generate ideas in moderation and kill ideas liberally , prioritize through nagging, encourage fighting within your team”. In Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky gives you concrete strategies for realizing your idea and developing the skills to make them happen. Also, Scott founded Behance, a company that helps creative people and teams across industries develop these creative skills.  


3. How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World – Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson tells interesting stories about creative genius and where they drive us. Their innovations and their vision of the world.  


4. The Laws of Simplicity – John Maeda

John Maeda is one of the world’s top graphic designers and professor at the MIT Media Lab. In Sometimes we find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that’s simple and easy to use, but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do. The Laws of Simplicity he lays down exactly that ten laws of simple design that can be followed by creatives, designers, and businesses to find the right balance between simplicity and complexity in their creations.  


5. Where Good Ideas Come From – Steven Johnson

Another book by creative Steven Johnson, where good ideas come from looks at how certain individuals, certain societies, and certain companies come up with all the great ideas. Steven Johnson has spent twenty years in creative industries, Steven presents the answers to most frequently asked questions regarding innovation and evolution. The way he explains things is very easy to understand, they make you think and see how different minds from Charles Darwin to Tim Berners-Lee come up with their ideas, what they do and why. He provides the complete, exciting, and encouraging story of inspiration. He identifies the five key principles to the genesis of great ideas and how best to make use of new technologies.  


6. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative – Austin Kleon

This book is a must if you try to unlock your creativity. Austin Kleon wrote steal like an artist after a talk he gave to students went viral. The idea is that don’t worry about originality. Instead embrace yourself, and how you can give you own personal touch and flair to the world through individual creativity.  


7. Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!) – George Lois

George Lois is the original Ad Man. In damn good advice, he offers some thoughts of wisdom from his career in design and advertising. Each page offers fresh insight into the sources of success, from identifying your heroes to identifying yourself. The ideas, images and illustrations presented in this book are fresh and cool. Offering practical advice, facts, anecdotes and inspiration, it should be on the coffee table of any aspiring designer.  

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8. How to Get Ideas – Jack Foster

How to get ideas shows you no matter your age or skill, your job or knowledge, you will see how to come up with more ideas, faster and easier. You will learn how to make your brain – idea foster, utilize your sense of humor, develop your curiosity, visualize your goals, rethink your thinking, and overcome your fear of rejection. Jack Foster’s explains his five-step technique for solving problems and unlock your creativity. You will see how to turn failures to your advantage and how to create a perfect environment for ideas generation mood.  


9. Hello World: Where Design Meets Life – Alice Rawsthorn

Alice Rawsthorn, the design critic for the International Herald Tribune, takes you on a historical and geographical journey in hello world, as she details how design has shaped the world, and how the world has shaped design.  


10.  The Creative Habit – Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp has spent a lifetime trying to make creativity a habit, and in the creative habit she shares what she has learned through her years as a leading choreographer. The main thrust of her book is that you have to make the conscious decision to allow creativity to be an integral part of your life. Once you allow yourself to be a truly creative person then you can start to design rituals, routines, and exercises around it to become far more creative.  


11.  Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity – Josh Linker

A New York Times bestseller, Josh Linker’s Disciplined Dreaming is all about how individuals and organizations can harness their creativity and turn ideas into concrete pieces of art, their final goals.  


12. Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are – Danny Gregory

A wonderful book to unlock your creativity, even though you may struggle finding the time to create. Danny Gregory gives practical advice and techniques for always finding the space to be creative. He offers 5 to 10 minute exercises for every skill level that fit into any schedule, whether on a plane, in a meeting, or at the breakfast. Also, he gives practical instruction on techniques and materials. He writes encouraging words and puts motivating illustrations. This book teaches readers how to develop a creative habit and lead a richer life through making art.  


13. Creativity, Inc. – Ed Catmull 

Even if you don’t know the name Ed Catmull, you will have definitely seen his work. Ed is the head of Pixar, the animation studio behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Up. His book is about how Pixar manages creativity and allows it designers, programmers, writers, and animators to perform to the highest standards. Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. He shares his ideals and techniques, honed over years, that have made Pixar so widely admired and so profitable.  


14. Stimulated!: Habits to Spark Your Creative Genius at Work – Andrew Pek & Jeannine McGlade

Stimulated! is for those who got stuck. This books is about five habits that will put you back on a creative truck. The method is playful, fun, enriching, and mind-expanding. It is a step by step process for getting unstuck. With Stimulated!, you learn: how to draw inspiration and fresh insights from the world around you, how to make the most of your surroundings and develop an environment that will make you create, how to come up with big & bold ideas, how to analyze the benefits of your success and failures to contribute to the next creative effort and many more.  


15. Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity – Keith Sawyer

Zig-Zag is an empirical look at what it takes to make creativity. Keith Sawyer, a researcher in creative thinking, draws on this research to determine what makes highly successful people so creative. He talks about creative journey, exceptional creators, creative abilities, and world-changing innovations. He shares with us his findings about highly creative people, demonstrates how to come up with better ideas, and explains how to carry those ideas to action most effectively.  


16. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work – Mason Currey

In daily rituals, Mason Currey has collected the habits, routines and rituals of the world’s greatest artists, scientists, and thinkers and explained them in a very appealing way.  


17. The Little Spark – 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity – Carrie Bloomston

The little spark is all about taking you back to when you had that spark inside you as a child. It never went away, you just forgot about it, you became an adult and you see things differently now. In this book, you will see how you can re-vitalize that spark again.The author gives us 30 engaging exercises, fun activities, inspirational images, and motivating ideas. Learn what is the spark that you have inside you and how to capture it, and how to make room for it in your life.  


18. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All – Tom Kelley

Creative confidence is a book, where you can find principles and strategies that will allow you to dive into your creative potential in your work and personal live. It is a book that will help you to unlock your creativity, be more productive and successful in your live and in your careers.  


19.  Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered – Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon comes up with a thought that we might want to keep our ideas to ourselves, what really work for creativity is to get those ideas out there; amongst the community. It’s not self-promotion, it’s self-discovery, get feedback, let others into your process, etc. Filled with illustrations, quotes, stories, and examples, Austin offers ten transformative rules for being opened, generous, brave and productive.  


20.  Creativity On Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius – Michael J. Gelb

In creativity on demand, Michael J. Gelb gives you techniques and practices to make sure that you are never struck and you always find a creativity inside you. Here author teaches best practices to open the flow of creative energy. Also he shares his tips on how to master creative energy, how to break out your fear-based limitations to unleash your potential, how to master the creative process, how to refine your ideas, and transform inspiration into reality. Awesome book to unlock your creativity.    

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