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Whether you are a real estate agent or a marketing guru, innovative thinking is often required to take your business to the next level. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to get stuck in a rut. If you're not careful, this stagnation can easily stall your business.
If you need creative thinking to get better results for your brand, the solution might be to retrain your brain. By reshaping your thought process, you can generate innovative ideas that really make an impact.
Similar: 5 key innovation trends and how executives can benefit from them in 2021
1. Read a book
The time you spend reading and writing will always improve your creative thinking – studies have confirmed that habitual readers and those who are generally positive about reading have greater creative thinking skills than their peers.
While entrepreneurs are often tempted to read only business books, it's worth noting that reading fiction has proven particularly effective in connecting your creative right brain and analytical left brain. In other words, you can curl up with The Lord of the Rings or your favorite Tom Clancy book.
2. Give free rein to brainstorming
When it comes to improving your ability to innovate, think of your brain as a muscle. Just as you would lift weights in the gym to strengthen your arms or legs, you should also "train" your brain to improve your creative thinking skills.
One of the best ways to do this is to really let off steam while brainstorming. Consider challenging yourself regularly to come up with as many ideas about a particular problem at once. Write down everything that comes to mind – don't cross out ideas because they seem too outrageous or impracticable.
The main idea is that you can get into the practice of writing down as many ideas as possible. This will help you be open to a wider range of ideas in the future and allow for more creative thinking when the time comes to solve problems for your business.
Related: Can Brain Training Games Really Make You Smarter?
3. Emphasize lateral learning
Many entrepreneurs pride themselves on being real specialists in their niche. There is nothing wrong with developing specialized knowledge that will help you deliver better results to your customers. But to encourage creative thinking, you need to embrace side learning.
Lateral learning essentially means trying to learn more about a wide variety of topics – including outside of your chosen profession. You won't necessarily become an expert in these areas, but the idea is that you expand your knowledge so that you have at least a solid understanding.
By expanding your knowledge base, you will have a wider range of facts and experiences to draw on when searching for solutions. Studies have shown that horizontal learning in the classroom increases student interest and increases the likelihood that learners will seek additional learning opportunities in the future. As you increase your thirst for knowledge, you become more innovative and can make new discoveries.
4. Learn how to deal with distractions
Distraction and creativity have a unique relationship. It has been found that very creative people are more easily distracted than their colleagues because they tend to pay attention to irrelevant information rather than filter it out.
While this seems like a downside, it means that they actually take in more information – more resources that can be used to generate ideas and solutions. As a result, creative thinkers are more likely to think of a variety of potential solutions than just the obvious one.
That being said, some visual distractions are only going to hurt your thinking process. A messy workspace or too much smartphone access could distract you from work. While it's okay to allow distractions to help you absorb more information, a clean work environment helps you focus on the task at hand while you work on a solution.
5. Don't be afraid to take a break
Taking a break may feel like indulging in potential distractions, but smart breaks can provide a massive innovation boost. In order to drive innovation forward, a break can often take the form of changing tasks. It has been found that switching tasks improves cognitive flexibility so that you can better adapt to different situations.
Consciously changing tasks can drive innovation without affecting your productivity.
For example, setting a timer to switch from your original task can avoid the psychological tendency to keep working on a problem even if you are completely stuck. Switching tasks forces you to change your mindset so that you can come back to the original problem with a new perspective.
Similarly: Can creative breaks increase the productivity of your employees?
Unleash your innovative brain
Everyone has creativity and innovation in them – but sometimes it just takes a little extra effort to use those skills. Whether that's in the form of the perfect marketing slogan or a better way to serve your customers, you'll thank your brain training efforts when those breakthroughs get easier.