9 Ways to Be More Creative in 2019

Salvador Dali in Figueres, Spain, circa 1900. Photo by Kammerman/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

If your New Year’s resolutions include improving your fitness routine or diet, being more creative should be on your list, too. With advantages ranging from greater brain function and productivity to better mood and memory, creativity can help improve your life at work and home. Anyone can benefit from the nine exercises listed below, whether you’re seeking fresh inspiration for your art practice or just looking to improve your problem-solving skills in 2019.

Take a free online art class

It’s never been easier to take an art class. From your phone or computer, you can dive into lessons and videos covering everything from the basics of analog photography to the history of Egyptian art. Free online classes and MOOCs (massive open online courses)—which you can find through websites like Class Central, Skillshare, and Coursera—allow you to access weeks- or months-long courses in various creative fields. Many of these curricula allow you to work at your own pace, and some are even offered by prestigious universities.

Stop procrastinating

It’s a common misconception that all people who routinely put off their work are procrastinators—and that creative geniuses like

and

were famous for this type of behavior. However, if you leave an assignment until the last minute knowing full well that you’ll still be able to get your work done—and done well—your actions are more accurately described as “purposeful delaying.” True procrastinators, on the other hand, end up producing work that’s worse not just in quality, but in terms of creativity, as well.

Some helpful strategies for kicking your procrastination habits include working during the times of day when you’re naturally most productive, breaking down big assignments into more manageable tasks, and minimizing distractions while you’re working, like turning off your phone.

Start a drawing routine

Drawing is not only an accessible means of creative expression, it can also help you process emotions and enhance your memory—in fact, a new studyfound that drawing is more effective than writing for memory retention. Like anything, you’ll need to make it part of your routine in order to stick with it and improve your skills.
One way to start is to keep a sketchbook, which you may choose to fill with depictions of your surroundings, travels, friends, or simple

you can assemble from household items. The beauty of a sketchbook is that you don’t have to worry about making mistakes, and you can keep it to yourself, like a diary.

Meditate

Meditation has long been utilized as a means to tame anxiety and tap into creativity—and countless artists and other creatives have caught on. Take, for instance, filmmaker

, who is largely responsible for growing enthusiasm around Transcendental Meditation (TM), and performance artist

, who follows a form of focused-attention meditation (FA).

In its various forms, meditation has been found to improve skills that are key to creativity, including observation skills, divergent thinking (the ability to come up with many novel ideas or solutions to a problem), and convergent thinking (the ability to find connections between different things). If you don’t know where to begin, consider a meditation app, like Headspace or Calm.

Eat more fish and walnuts

Researchers believe that you can optimize your diet for greater creativity—and unsurprisingly, the recommended foods are staples of a healthy diet. They include fruits and vegetables, which contain creativity-boosting flavonoids; fish, walnuts, and other foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which heighten brain performance; as well as bananas, almonds, and seaweed, which contain tyrosine, an amino acid that’s been linked to convergent thinking. To be clear, this approach won’t work overnight, but rather through a long-term diet.

Broaden your dating pool

A recent research study found that the deep learning that occurs during a romantic relationship with someone from another country may contribute to creativity. For one experiment, researchers worked with a group of students enrolled in an international MBA program over the course of 10 months, and tested their creativity at the beginning and end of the program; those who had dated someone from another culture had “superior creative performance.” Other experiments supported these findings, showing that the depth of a relationship correlates with a person’s convergent and divergent thinking.

Sleep smarter

While some studies have found that creative people don’t sleep well, adequate sleep is recommended for boosting the cognitive functioning that creativity requires. Both a full night’s sleep and power naps have been shown to help with idea generation;

and Thomas Edison were known to regularly nap for this reason.

Getting enough sleep at night, however, is particularly important for creative problem-solving. A study published in June 2018 suggested that both REM and non-REM sleep play a role in enhancing a person’s creative thinking. A previous study found that when people had a full eight hours of sleep before trying to solve a problem, as opposed to staying awake, nearly triple the number of participants were able to solve the problem. One of the easiest ways to become a better sleeper is to develop “sleep stability,” meaning going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends).

Take more museum trips

Researchers working at the intersection of arts and medicine have proven that the seemingly dissimilar fields are mutually beneficial—even when it comes to the simple act of viewing an artwork in person. This year, studies reported findings that patients stand to benefit from doctor-prescribed museum visits, and likewise, doctors can learn crucial observation skillsthrough carefully examining art. If you’re wary of a fatigue-inducing museum trip, make a plan to visit one exhibition or gallery, or even just one work of art—this approach is also a good one if you’re planning on seeing art with children.

Spice up your cooking or baking rituals

If making art is not your cup of tea, perhaps you find food more accessible. Cooking invites just as much room for experimentation as art, and for many artists, like Olafur Eliasson, the ingredients, science, and ethics of food can spur fresh ideas and lead to fruitful, communal meals. While the alchemy of baking may seem to leave less room for improvisation, devotees of The Great British Bake Off and Instagram users will know well that there’s no shortage of innovative bakers and pastry chefs pushing confections into the realms of art.
[“source=artsy.net”]

Three Ways To Understand And Apply Social Media Insights To Your Business

Pexels

The internet has impacted the way most, if not all, industries have evolved. Keeping up with industry trends and available platforms is a job in and of itself. In particular, social media is shaping the way many companies engage with customers and drive sales.

In the education industry, the internet has revolutionized the way people learn and how they interact with their peers. Based on my experience working with social media influencers to engage students, I’d like to share three tips for entrepreneurs in any industry.

Learn how your target audience is using social media.

You can never stay hot for too long in the world of social media. One minute Snapchat is the app of the hour, the next it’s Instagram, and the cycle continues. Social media has secured credibility in recent years as a trusted source of information not only for news but also as a platform for consumers to engage with companies and exchange information.

My company’s target audience is students, and we have found that students today use social media in ways that are foreign to generations that did not grow up in the digital age. For example, “study with me” videos have become a popular internet sensation among youth. My company decided to capitalize on this opportunity by partnering with YouTube influencers to learn how students are using YouTube to study; we then applied that information to our platform to better help our users succeed academically.

Understanding how your target audience is using and benefiting from social media is critical to success. This applies to any business. Many companies are under the impression that all there is to social media is a simple press of a button to post content, but that’s not where the value lies. Building your presence is important, but understanding why you have that presence will help you properly utilize your channels and benefit in multiple ways.

To do so, connect with your target audience and customers. Create surveys, send personal emails or even make phone calls to understand how your customers are using social media and in what ways your business can have a valuable impact. Get a deeper understanding of your audience behavior and which channels you should focus on.

[“source=forbes]

7 ways to get more (and better) creative ideas from your credit union team

Credit unions are a unique business. However, there are certain things that all businesses share. One of these is the need for innovation. Because the credit union business is constantly changing (now there’s an understatement!), it’s vital that credit unions keep innovating to stay ahead of the curve. And all innovation begins with a single, creative idea. But how do you get those creative ideas? Here are 7 ways that you, as a credit union leader, can get more (and better) creative ideas from your credit union team.

  1. Get them out of the workplace.

A change of location helps shake the brain out of its routine. It also gets people away from the multiple distractions of the workplace, which are not conducive to creativity. So try having a lunch meeting at a local restaurant. Maybe a nearby hotel has a nice lobby area for a small, informal meeting. If it’s nice outside, go to a park! Anyplace other than your credit union’s version of “Meeting Room C.”

  1. Give them the “What”; let them give you the “How.”

Nothing kills the creative spirit more than being micromanaged. Creative people (and we are all creative people) love being challenged. As a leader, it’s your job to set the goal (the “What”). Now, ask your team to come up with the “How.” Tip: prepare to be surprised by some brilliant ideas that you would never have thought of!

  1. Ask crazy questions.

When looking for creative solutions to your next credit union challenge, ask your team “crazy” questions. Questions like: “How would we solve this problem if we had $20 million to throw at it?” “How would a professional dancer solve this problem?” “How would three cats, working together, solve this problem?” Not only will this force your team members’ brains into their naturally creative space, you may just find the germ of an actual solution in some of the answers they come up with!

  1. Make a “play space.”

Creativity needs stimulation to thrive. People are more creative when they play. If possible, furnish one of your meeting rooms with a few toys (Nerf® balls, Legos®, etc.) and interesting, colorful magazines (not credit union—or any industry-related—magazines!). And, if you’re really serious about this, paint this room a shade of green. Studies show that the color green boosts creativity!

  1. Invite an outsider.

Every now and then, invite someone from outside the credit union (and, preferably, from outside the financial services industry) to sit in on a meeting. An artist, a comedian, an art historian. Someone who sees the world through a completely different lens than you or your team. This person might see solutions, or come up with ideas, that would never occur to someone from the credit union industry.

  1. Send your team out for a walk.

According to recent research done at Stanford, people do their best creative thinking while in motion—outdoors, down a corridor, or even just a treadmill. Many leaders have discovered the multiple benefits (including, of course, health) of holding “walking” meetings.

  1. Initiate “Plagiarism Friday.”

(Full disclosure: I plagiarized this idea from someone else, but I can’t remember whom.) Every Friday, have each member of your team bring in one great idea from outside the credit union industry and share what makes the idea creative and innovative. Then ask your team how that idea could be incorporated into the credit union.

  1. (a bonus tip!) Let your team know that ideas are welcome, encouraged, even required, from everyone.

No one has a monopoly on great ideas! That next breakthrough idea—the one that takes your credit union to the next level—can come from anyone on the team.

Creativity and innovation are the keys to your credit union’s success. Every new challenge (and it seems like there’s a new one every day) requires a creative solution. It’s up to you, as a credit union leader, to encourage, support, and value creativity from everyone on your team!
[“Source-ndtv”]