According to one study, Americans are taking in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986 (the equivalent of 174 newspapers worth). And that study was all the way from 2011!
Just like a hard drive can become overloaded with files, our brains can become weighed down by the daily grind, worries and irrelevant thoughts. If you want to unlock your creativity and let it flow freely, it's time to declutter your mind and focus on what truly matters.
Read on if you’re looking to calm the chaos and think more clearly.
The creative mind vs. clutter
When your brain is cluttered with unnecessary thoughts, worries and distractions, there's no room for the magic of creativity to emerge. To tap into your creative potential, you must first clear away the mental debris.
I start by doing a physical clearing: putting my phone at a distance from my bed at night and refusing to use it in the morning until I’ve accomplished at least one thing on my to-do list. That’s usually an hour after waking up, but it’s an important part of how I compartmentalize my phone and Internet exposure so that it doesn’t default to becoming the dominant part of my day.
Prioritize what matters
Creativity thrives when you concentrate on what's important. Stop wasting precious mental energy on things that don't matter and are beyond your control. Instead, focus on your passions, interests and goals. This shift in mindset will create space for innovative ideas to blossom.
That’s where that all-important compartmentalizing I mentioned comes in handy. By defining what times you’ll engage with social media, friends, email, and other high-distraction activities, you’ll be clearer during the times when you need your brain power for deeper creative thinking.
You can also externalize what’s on your mind with a “circle of influence” chart. How much of what’s on your mind can you really impact? Put the things you have the most influence on in the center of the circle—your own routine, for example, or work output—and the things furthest at the edges or outside the circle (your friend’s divorce). Getting clarity on what you can actually control helps you make space for the areas of your life where you have the highest influence.
Finding your creative zone
Do you ever wonder when you're most creative? For many, the early morning or a relaxing shower can spark the best ideas. Starting the day with a clear mind, unburdened by the chaos of the outside world, often leads to moments of inspired thought.
However, as the day progresses, responsibilities and tasks pile up, cluttering your mind once again. So, how can you maintain that creative spark throughout the day?
Figure out when your most productive or mentally clear times are and try to design your day around them as much as you can. Of course, it's easier said than done, but even getting thirty minutes of mentally clearer time to do work that’s more important to you (and demands more of you) can really make a difference, if you make it a consistent daily routine.
Cultivate a creative environment
To keep your creativity alive, nourish yourself with things that boost your attitude and help hype you up to become more positive. It’s a slog some days, but consider taking on some of these straightforward things with real positivity.
1. Listen to music
Music has the power to transport you to different mental spaces. Choose tunes that match your mood or inspire your creativity.
2. Read an interesting book
Dive into a book that captivates your imagination. Whether it's fiction, non-fiction or poetry, reading can spark new ideas and perspectives.
3. Connect with nature
Step outside for a breath of fresh air. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and can inspire creativity.
4. Mindful moments
Take short breaks to practice mindfulness. Deep breathing exercises and meditation can help declutter your thoughts and boost creativity.
Unlocking your creativity is all about fostering a mental environment where ideas can flow. By decluttering your mind, focusing on what matters most and cultivating a positive atmosphere, you can keep your creative juices going throughout the day.
The next time you feel bogged down by mental clutter, remember that you have the power to unleash your creativity by tweaking your relationship to the information you consume each day.