Sleep Your Way to Creativity And 9 More Proven Methods For More Ideas

I have to tell you, I felt a (virtual) spring in my step when I read this title from Belle Beth Cooper at Buffer, a blog platform that is rapidly becoming one of my favorites! Of course, nothing is ever really quite this simple… but these tips emphasize helpfully the connections between physiological condition, environment and the capacity for creativity in our professional work.

We often speak about being creative as something important to professional academic lives, from course design and pedagogy to scholarship to an number of administrative problem-solving scenarios. But we often don’t examine and reflect on what makes creativity more possible. So check this out!

In addition, you should really check out Buffer: not only does this service regularly provide great info on productivity and life hacking, but you can sign up for an e-mail update to get good stuff pushed right to your inbox. And it’s not so much a blog as a social media publishing service: you can sign up and use it to publish to multiple social media at once… if that’s your outlet for creativity. 🙂

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Sleep Your Way to Creativity And 9 More Surefire Methods For More Ideas

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Written by Belle Beth Cooper

We’ve written about creativity a few times on the Buffer blog, but it’s hard to keep track of everything we learn about it. One day I’m adjusting the temperature in my workspace, and the next I’m trying to put off creative work until I’m tired.

If you’re in the same boat, and you find it’s difficult to remember what will improve your creativity and when you should do your most creative work, hopefully this list will help you get it all straight.

1. Your brain does better creative work when you’re tired

Unlike solving an analytic problem, creative insights come from letting our minds wander along tangents and into seemingly unrelated areas. Though many of us identify as morning larks or night owls, peaking in our problem-solving skills and focus at particular times of the day, creative thinking actually works better at non-optimal times. So, if you’re a morning lark, your brain will be better at finding creative insights at night, when you’re tired.

The reason behind this is that a tired brain struggles to filter out distractions and focus on one thing. It’s also more likely to wander off on tangents. While that seems like a bad thing when you’re working, creative thinking actually benefits from distractions and random thoughts. Research has shown that we’re better at “thinking outside the box” at our non-optimal times.

[Read more of this good stuff at  Sleep Your Way to Creativity And 9 More Proven Methods For More Ideas]

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“Fear and Trembling in the Face of Creativity”

We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams. (Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy… also, Willy Wonka)

Augustana College is one of countless institutions that identifies “creative thinking” as a key student learning outcome. But this goal has been a tricky one to foster — largely because most of us are unclear on how to foster it, and likely because the notion of “creativity” has largely been squeezed out of our line of sight by “critical thinking” (which is, of course, hugely important). How did this happen?

Maybe because “creativity” is a scary concept — or at least has been, historically. Charlie Sweet, Hal Blythe, and Rusty Carpenter at Eastern Kentucky University wrote the following piece for The National Teaching & Learning Forum (Wiley Publications), which I found through my e-mail subscription to the tomorrows-professor e-mail list (which I highly recommend).

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Fear and Trembling in the Face of Creativity

At the conclusion of “Kubla Khan,” Coleridge describes what many interpret as the reaction of the public to the poet: Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread, For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Mockingly exhorting his audience to treat the poet, who somehow has channeled creativity, as a demon that must be confined, the nineteenth-century English poet expresses a common phobia: we fear that which we don’t understand, and creativity is not something everyone grasps. If Sir Ken Robinson is correct and the majority of us lose 98% of our creativity by adulthood, perhaps most people grow up and into a distrust of the creative approach to problem-solving in inverse proportion to their increasing reliance upon critical thinking.

But not all creative thinkers. Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution when the French peasants stuck their wooden shoes, sabots (hence the term sabotage) into the gears of the new machines, society has tended to revere Thomas Edison and his thousand light bulbs as well as the inventors of Post-It notes, Velcro, and iPads. So why does Shakespeare proclaim that “The lunatic, the lover and the poet. Are of imagination all compact”? And by extension, why is the idea of teaching creative thinking often distrusted?

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