When Are We Most Creative?

by - April 23, 2018


Everyday creativity features the creative product and the creative process both at leisure time and at work. Creativity can be a prominent factor in human survival (e.g. finding food and heat) and is something that can be seen in everyone (Richards, 2010). That's right - in everyone, not just those in arts, science or innovation-related fields. I have it and you have it too. Creativity is wired into all of us and it's up to us to choose what to use it for, whether you're trying out a new recipe, optimising work flow, designing websites or simply finding the best birthday gifts. It is vital, it is fun and it helps us adapt, create and not only survive, but also grow.


Research shows that we might be better able to come up with a creative solution when we're operating at our non-optimal (not at our best) time of the day. Sounds strange to you? It's good to note that those results are in regards to insight problem-solving only (i.e. solutions involving creativity). Analytical problem-solving is still at its greatest during our optimal time when we are feeling, working and functioning at our best selves (Wieth, M. & Zacks, R., 2011). Considering those findings, it kind of makes sense. Why would that sudden genius idea occur only when we're happily seated behind our desks? It can happen anywhere, at any time. During a walk, during your commute on the way home, at the zoo or while sipping from your glass of wine on a Saturday night. Creativity is fluid, it would be silly of us to put it into a box when it comes to "thinking outside of the box"!


Often stress and pressure can act as a wall, withholding the creative flow from us. If you have the option, allow yourself some additional time ahead so you don't have to rush over a looming deadline. No active thinking of all the things you have to do, keeps your mind clear and your body at ease to find the creative answers you need. Incorporate activities into your daily schedule that you know will help you relax - whether this is an extra hour of sleep, a hot bath, meditation or a work out - the choice is yours. Only you know what soothes your mind the best! A change of scenery can facilitate the stages of creativity and crystallise ideas. You can go on a walk or find a quieter place than can help you relax. For those of you thinking that you can't possibly waste time on walks when you need to urgently come up with something great - I hear you. I know how it feels, but devoting all your attention to forcing creativity rarely gives the best results. Once you step out from your environment, you can look at the problem from a different angle. The minute you take a deep breath and realize that it's not that important, then you can notice the answers flowing.


Following your intuition or a "gut feeling" was found to involve unconscious and experiential knowledge, declarative and procedural memory and also transpersonal (i.e. when the sense of self extends beyond the individual) and quantum-mechanical dimensions as well (Laszlo, 2009). Some argue that creativity is a fusion of intuition and reason (Damasio, 1994). According to Wallas's well-known four-stage model of creativity (preparation, incubation, illumination and verification), when it comes to the role of intuition in creativity, it might take place in between the incubation stage (i.e. not fully aware of the process) and the illumination stage (i.e. the "Aha" moment). But for those to occur, we need to have trust in letting our intuition come with the creative solution you're looking for. Some studies show that those who exhibit strong faith in their intuition and creativity were more open to new material and had stronger confidence in applying it.


Despite the sheer volume of research and the scale of the samples used, take it all with a grain of salt. We cannot generalize everything, not everyone will fit into those assessments and conclusions. Use a combination of all of the above approaches that works best for you, your creative process and your creative product.

Observe your process closely and study it well until you gain a better awareness of how your creativity works. If you follow your pattern of a typical day, when can you usually see the highest peak of creativity? Try implementing some changes (e.g. waking up and working earlier or later than you normally do) and find out if you can see a difference. Have you noticed if your creativity is influenced by other variables such as fatigue and sleepiness, stress and anxiety, hunger and cravings, busyness and overthinking?

What's in your mind plays an enormous role in the quality and ratio of your ideas. Make sure you don't impose any restraints on yourself - avoid putting yourself down, assigning blame and guilt of not coming with any "good" ideas. Be gentle with yourself and have trust in your creative process and your unique abilities. I believe we are always being creative, sometimes our creativity is slowing down and having a well-deserve rest, sometimes it is at its peak, but ultimately it's linked with our current frame of mind and well-being. Our creativity is a reflection of who we are.

Have a week of great motivation and unlimited creative flow!


References

Combs, A. and Krippner, S. (2007). Structures of consciousness and creativity: Opening the doors of perception. In R. Richards (Ed.), Everyday creativity and new views of human nature (pp. 131-149). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Demasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes' error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York: Grosset/Putham.

Laszlo, E. (2009). In defence of intuition: Exploring the physical foundations of spontaneous apprehension. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 23, 51-58.

Richards, R. (2010). Everyday Creativity: Process and way of life - Four key issues. In J. Kaufman and R. Sternberg (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (pp. 189-215). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Wieth, M. B. and Zacks, R. T. (2011). Time of the day effects on problem-solving: When the non-optimal is optimal. Thinking & Reasoning, 17:4, 387-401.

In Daily Motivation we will lead the fight to stay motivated, whether it's about your job, the boring tasks you have to deal with, the workplace-built intolerance, finding the strength and time for your real passions, follow what truly makes you happy, or just live and wake up without the daunting feeling of having to go through another rushed day.

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