The most successful people have always been great creative thinkers. Luckily, creative thinking is like any other skill, the more you practice the better you’ll get. If you’re a fellow creative you’ll know the creative process is critical during all stages of a project. However, even if you don’t work in a job that is typically considered creative, training your mind to think creatively helps you problem-solve, invent, innovate, create, and think ‘outside the box’.

Creativity is a process and different solutions can be produced according to your ability, time frame or budget constraints. However, the more you practise the process, the faster you can produce creative solutions for briefs in tight time frames. While the process comes more naturally to some, every person can improve their creative thinking skills. 

Let’s explore 5 techniques you can implement to improve your creative thinking ability!

1. Think like a Child

Have you ever noticed that children have the craziest imaginations? They see the world in a whole different light. Inanimate objects can become boats, planes, and even dinosaurs! The possibilities are endless, so why can’t we do the same?

Don’t approach your design problem with a set of rules set by society. Instead, be imaginative and approach your creative thinking process like a child. Don’t think of the set purposes, instead broaden your thinking to alternate uses! A spoon isn’t just a spoon, it’s an aeroplane, a shovel, catapult, paddles… you get the picture!

2. Get Movin’

On average, a person (especially a creative) can sit between 7-15 hours a day! That can have a negative effect on your health and mood, which can stunt your creative thinking process. 

When hitting a creative block, get up and move! A Stanford study showed that walking before or while thinking can improve creativity and cognitive function. The study showed creative thinking increased by 60% when participants were up and mobile rather than being seated. So get moving!

3. Mind Maps

We’ve all heard of the classic mind map, this is often seen as a primitive technique, but can be very advantageous in the creative thinking process!

Mind Mapping is great when exploring new ideas as it forces you to think more broadly and build off existing ideas. Mind maps can be text-based, sketch-based, colour based, anything! Start by noting down the problem, then map out potential ideas that relate to that problem, these then branch out to secondary and tertiary ideas. This technique is really handy when generating new concepts, and even structuring your existing thoughts. Give it a try!

4. Get Messy with a Visual Diary

For those of us who graduated from a design college/university, remember the importance of noting every step of the creative process down in your visual diary, to explain how you arrived at your final decision. 

Today, this process is often undervalued. Due to 21st-century technology advances, designers have moved away from sketches and doodles to designing their ideas directly onto their screen. With a visual diary, you can quickly note down ideas, sketch, and doodle which is essential for getting your ideas quickly onto paper. The purpose of this is not to create a final product, but to help develop your vision and explore different creative concepts. I do this with every big project!

5. Reframe Your Question

Briefs usually involve problem-oriented questions that need answering, all of these questions need to be answered with skilled creative thinking processes. But what if you’re asking the wrong questions?

Try reframing the questions you’re asking, this could open a whole new plethora of ideas! For example, the question “Why do we sell less than other brands?” could be reframed as “What can we learn from our competitors?”. Reframing a questi0n may steer your creative thinking process in a more positive direction!

Make sure to use these 5 creative thinking techniques in your next project, and discover a whole new world of ideas!

Tyler Smith | LinkedIn | Instagram