"Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it," Jonah Lehrer recently wrote. It's just a matter of finding the right methods. Researchers have studied human habits extensively to figure out what factors lead to greater innovation and drive creativity. Here are 6 proven tactics that will separate you from the pack and have you dreaming up big ideas today:
1. Changing eating patterns
Breaking your usual habits can be difficult, but psychologists suggest that changing things up could have a big role in allowing you to think differently. And the best time to make that switch is early in the day before you've fallen in line with your daily routine. Results from a Journal of Experimental Social Psychology study reveal that those who flipped the order in which they prepared their breakfast later demonstrated a greater ability to free their minds to new ideas and thought. They gained inspiration from an open mind.
2. Sleeping more
Did you ever have a decision you wanted to sleep on? It turns out that's actually a pretty good idea, according to a University of California-San Diego study. Researchers assigned participants a series of creative problems and asked them to attempt to solve the problems just before taking a nap. When the participants woke up, they handled the same set of questions again. They improved by almost 40 percent the second time around. The sleep time actually helped their problem-solving skills.
3. Working out
"Physical activity gets your mind into the bodily experience, so that subconscious connections can pop up," said author and researcher Keith Sawyer, as quoted by Health.com. Besides for being a healthy distraction, exercise can get you back on track creatively. Among other things, the exercise increases oxygen in your blood which will boost both motivation and focus. So before you dive into that task, consider hitting the gym first.
Daydreaming might seem like a waste of time to some, but research indicates that it's good for you. A recent Psychological Science study proved that daydreamers have better memories than others. It's not just a cause for greater productivity, but a wandering mind can also lead to better results. When someone daydreams, said Lehrer in a blog post, "the end result is a kind of subterranean creativity, as the mind makes new connections on its own."
5. Seeking out some noise
Groups of people performing assignments requiring mental flexibility and poise were surrounded by different levels of noise ranging from soft to moderate to loud. Not only were the people in the moderate section better at problem-solving, they were also more creative than the others, reported the Journal of Consumer Research. Researchers believe that when there's a small distraction in the distance, people can tune it out without issue. It's even a good idea; silence isn't necessarily the answer to getting the best results.
6. Playing video games
New studies linking video game-playing to increased creativity should have you running for your Xbox. Naturally, It's kids who benefit most from the hours of gaming, according to Michigan State University research. Children who spent more time playing computer games, the study showed, performed better at creative pursuits like drawing and writing. But adults have lots to gain as well from those long sessions of Angry Birds. Some proven benefits of gaming include increased perception and better decision-making skills.