As individuals and firms look for a competitive edge we are all urged to be more innovative and creative. Yet there are many myths around creativity that sometimes make it hard to know what works. Read on for fun creative ideas that are proven both practically and scientifically.

1) Going Green

Have some real green plants in the office. According to an eight month study by Robert Ulrich adding a pot plant to an office increases creativity by 15%! and leads to more flexible solutions to problems. Why? At a subliminal level red is associated with urgency and danger whilst green is associated with positivity and relaxation. A separate study found that green areas in housing developments can reduce crime by around 50% !

2) Small things that Count

Small cues in our environment, or minds, have a profound effect on our abilities. Do you know that when participants in a quiz where asked to think about either a football hooligan or college professor as they answered questions those that thought of hooligans scored 46% and those that thought of professors scored 60%. In a similar study of creativity people asked to think about the behaviours of punks were significantly more creative than those asked to think about the behaviours of engineers! So ensure your mind is focussed in the best way.

3) Use the Quiet Guy

We are all used to our conscious minds ( the loud guy ) and creativity can be aided by using our subconscious minds ( the quiet guy ). When you’re stuck distract your conscious mind – do something different ( a puzzle , take a walk , read a newspaper article ) and allow your subconscious to process the issue. In an experiment that involved distracting some people during a problem solving exercise , those that were distracted generated twice as many creative ideas as those that weren’t distracted!

4) In touch with your inner Gorilla ( from Richard Wiseman )

Try using these four techniques

Priming – start by working feverishly on your problem then release the effort by doing something completely different. Go for a car ride , visit a museum and notice how your mind will create serendipitious events.

Perspective – changing how you think about an issue will generate novel solutions. Think how would a child, artist, friend tackle this? Think about an analogy – this issue “ is like “

Play – jump start your creativity by having some fun. Watch a funny film , digitally alter the image of a colleague or include the words “ cheese pie “ into your next conversation

Perceive – invest time in ensuring the world doesn’t become too familiar. Ask yourself some new questions every week. Why are bananas yellow? Why do people laugh? How do elephants communicate over hundreds of miles ?

5) Your test

So lets start being more creative now ! Answer the puzzle below.

Joanna and Jackie were born on the same day of the same month of the same year. They have the same mother and father , yet they are not twins. How is that possible ?

If you cant work it out at first try the techniques above. If that doesn’t work try asking a friend. If you are really stumped let me know and I’ll reveal the answer.

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