Whether you’re a one-year-old learning to walk, the CEO of a multimillion dollar corporate or somewhere in between, coming up with creative ideas is a skill that will take you places quickly. Likely though, you’ve stared blankly at an empty page enough times to realise brilliant ideas don’t fall from the sky, grow on trees, or magically appear on your blank page, so we’ve got another plan to get your creative juices flowing.
The secret? Do stuff. Daily.
Giving your creative side extra oxygen takes a bit of time and a bit of bravery. Two things that can create a whole lot of magic.
We know the hard work and the thrill behind shiny new ideas, so here’s our short ‘do-stuff’ list which can help you tap into your creative mind over the next 25 days.
25 Day Creative Challenge:
1. Tidy your space
2. Go for a walk
3. Complete a random act of kindness
4. Start a ‘someday’ list
5. Listen to classical music
6. Read a nonfiction book
7. Declare your mantra
8. Vow to get more sleep
9. Go for coffee with your most creative friend
10. Have a ‘no screens’ day
12. Practice a new skill
13. Plan a trip
14. Build an inspiration board
16. Take a different route
17. Write a list of 30 (or 100 if you’re extra)
18. Listen to a podcast
19. Make magic with awesome people
20. Write by hand
21. Acknowledge your superpowers
22. Revisit old ideas
23. Visit a museum
25. Step out of your comfort zone
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 1: Tidy your space
To kick off the next 25 days, take a few minutes (or an hour if you need it) to Marie Kondo your space. Tidy and re-organise so you’re ready for the month ahead. Chuck out all the stuff that’s cluttering your life and fogging up your mind and keep the pieces you find most inspiring.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 2: Go for a walk
Even a short walk can give you some needed distance from your work and help your brain come up with new possibilities and solutions.
Exercise releases a bunch of chemicals in your body which help you to feel good and induce ‘flow’ – which is at the foundation of creative work. Flow is a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly to describe “The state of optimal and total engagement where the awareness of time and self-consciousness dissolve.” In other words, just the right spot for producing creative work.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 3: Complete a random act of kindness
We have our daily routines packed with stuff we do for ourselves. What’s something you can do today to bring some awesomeness into someone else’s life? If you need some inspo on the topic, checkout Kid President’s genius video ‘20 things we should say more often‘.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 4: Start a ‘someday’ list
Big or small, scribble everything that comes to mind on your someday list – even the ideas you don’t believe in yet. Places you’d love to visit, topics you’d like to know more about, renovations you’d like to tackle, changes you’d like to make in the world or in your life. Once you’re done, keep it nearby so you can actively turn your Somedays into Todays.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 5: Listen to classical music
According to research, Vivaldi’s classical concerti Four Seasons wins first place for the most creativity-inspiring piece of music.
Classical music helps people perform better tasks that involve divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is “making unexpected combinations, recognising links among remote associates, or transforming information into unexpected forms.” In other words, thinking outside-the-box. Plug into your classical beats and let your thoughts flow out-of-the-box.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 6: Read a nonfiction book
Rules: It must be on a topic you know little or nothing about BUT one you are excited to explore. The life and times of Tolkein? Developmental Psychology? How to win friends and influence people? There are heaps of fascinating subjects out there and you never know what golden nuggets are waiting to influence your creative work. Whatever book you choose, aim to have it finished by the end of the month.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 7: Declare your mantra
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will,” said the profound Suzy Kassem. It’s so easy for doubts to rule our actions. A quick and powerful mantra can be what you need to shift your mindset and move forward with your amazing and scary ideas.
Pick a mantra that you are proud to live by. Here’s a sprinkling of possibilities:
• “A great idea is waiting for me”
• “Feel the fear and do it anyway”
• “Stop asking for permission”
• “No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist”
• “One year equals 365 possibilities”
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 8: Vow to get more sleep
How often do you sit down to work on your passion project but you can’t seem to focus because your eyes keep glazing over. Maybe you’re uninspired… or maybe you’re just exhausted.
Need some tips for getting more sleep?
• Go to bed at the same time every night
• Put your phone on flight mode when you check out for the night
• Keep your room as dark as you can
• If you’re distracted by sounds play white noise
• Don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 9: Go for coffee with your most creative friend
Talking through your projects forces you to articulate your idea in some sort of concise, clear, and makes relative sense. Doing so will reengage new parts of your brain and, as a result, you may discover new solutions. Plus, there’s heaps of value in the questions, encouragement, cross-associations, and hype that come from any good conversation over coffee.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 10: Have a ‘no screens’ day
How many screens do you have at home? Phones, computers, laptops, ipads, TVs. Our brains are bombarded with messages 24/7 which means we miss out on a lot of chances to slow down, take in the world around us and come up with sparkly new ideas.
Today’s challenge is a toughy. See if you can put your phone in a drawer, shut down your computer and use the extra time to get inspired away from a screen.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 11: Make something with your hands
Today, collect a few supplies and make something for the sake of making something. You could make a mixed-media collage, a birdhouse, a knitted scarf, a Christmas decoration, or a birthday card.
Create something with your hands and reap the benefits of hand-made crafts which, according to Mindfood Magazine, there are six:
1. Stress relief
2. Confidence boost
3. Increased empathy
4. Improved quality of life for those with illness
5. Enhanced brain productivity
6. Lessened effects of serious health conditions
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 12: Practice a new skill
When we hit a creative roadblock, sometimes the best detour can be through trying something completely different so we start seeing things with a new perspective. There are so many skills you could try:
• Write a short story
• Cook a new recipe
• Learn to change a car tyre
• Play the harmonica
• Bake a croissant
• Do something new with your hair
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 13: Plan a trip
Travel is one of the most effective and fun ways to discover the world and add to your mental database of experience, knowledge, and inspiration. Take a look at your calendar and see if you can pencil something in for later in the year. It could be a half-day roadie, or a long haul flight across the globe. And no, “I don’t have time” is not an excuse.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 14: Build an inspiration board
Today, the challenge is to compile your inspiration onto one board. The topic of your board can be a project you’re working on, genre specific (something you’re interested), or a compilation of life inspiration. You can start putting together some ideas digitally on something like Pinterest or manually by cutting and pasting images from magazines or photos.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 15: Meditate
When you have a massive deadlines, expectations or workload, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning. Meditation can be an awesome way to get in the rights headspace and give you the energy to tackle those big ideas.
There’s heaps of science linking meditation to brain health. It builds neural pathways, engages often underused parts of the brain and makes us more aware of our subconscious mind, all things that help unleash our creativity.
If you’re new to meditation, try an app like Headspace which can guide you through the process.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 16: Take a different route
While routine can be a great thing for personal productivity, sometimes it can kill your creativity. You might get too used to the way things are and need a change to spark new thoughts and ideas. Walk a different way or try a different location. Discover a new favourite place to work on your creative project. A new café, an open place in the sun, or on public transport.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 17: Write a list of 30 (or 100 if you’re extra)
Writing a list of 100 things is a powerful technique to spark new ideas.
State your question or issue at the top of a blank sheet of paper then create a list of 100 answers or solutions. Your subconscious starts to engage in the process, ideas start flowing and you’ll discover new and surprising answers.
Rules of the game:
• Don’t judge or evaluate ideas; you’ll review them later.
• Don’t write complete words or sentences if that slows you down.
• Don’t stop to wonder how far in the list you are; number the lines from 1 to 30 in advanced first.
• Don’t worry too much about repeating entries; duplicates can shed light on your patterns of thought.
• According to Luciano Passuello, founder of the website Liteminds, writing down a list of 100 can produce some serious magic.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 18: Listen to a podcast
Podcasts are one of the best professional development tools ever invented.
Need some recommendations for great podcasts?
• Creatively Wired (plug for our own podcast!)
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 19: Make magic with awesome people
People are an awesome source of inspiration for new ideas. Hearing someone else’s take or experience can spark a waterfall of new thoughts in your own mind. Get in touch with someone who inspires you and see how the two of you can work together to make magic happen.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 20: Write by hand
A few minutes of personal journaling or freewriting is a great way to stimulate your creativity, memory, and can boost your wellbeing. Spend 5 to 10 minutes writing without worrying too much about grammar, spellcheck, or if it makes sense. Keep the ideas flowing and see where your pen takes you.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 21: Acknowledge your superpowers
We all have superpowers and discovering them is the next step to taking them to 100. If we forget to look for them, we risk going through our lives with untapped natural talent. If you’re struggling to think of what you do best, try the Clifton Strengths Finder test so you can start owning your powers.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 22: Revisit old ideas
Is there something you started working on a while back. Last year? Two years ago? Ten years ago? Pick it up again and see if you can remake it.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 23: Visit a museum
Take your time and immerse yourself in the experience. Who knows what you might learn, discover, or develop a new appreciation for.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 24: Brainstorm
Chunk out 15-20 minutes to brainstorm your current work in progress. Or if you’re not working on something, brainstorm a future creative project. Grab a notebook or a whiteboard and see what new ideas rise to the surface.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE | DAY 25: Step out of your comfort zone
Fear can be a real bully sometimes, so why not use this challenge to stand up and fight. Whatever your boundaries are, push against them today, a little or a lot. Maybe it’s presenting a new idea to your boss or team. Maybe it’s signing up for an intimidating class at the gym. Maybe it’s volunteering to be a tutor at a local school. Maybe it’s choosing a different ice-cream flavour for the first time, or wearing that bold hat you love but always worry is too out there.