Zoe Aitken5 May 2022

How to promote creativity in a virtual world

Navigating through never-seen-before circumstances requires creativity; it requires us to think differently. We can’t rely on our past experiences and simply re-hash what we have done previously. In fact, our previous experiences may even hinder effective decision-making, because things are changing so quickly. And what worked yesterday has no guarantee of working today.

Therefore, we need to apply new thinking, to come up with new types of solutions. But let’s face it, the current environment is not exactly conducive to creativity. We are working from home, socially distanced from teammates, family, and friends, juggling home-schooling, and spending evenings bingeing re-runs of Sex and the City (or is that just me?). ‘Creativity’ could not feel further from our reality.

Below are 5 ways that you can tap back into your creativity in a virtual world.

  1. Go to your happy place

It sounds simple, but research shows that having a positive mood enhances your creativity. So, the next time you need to think creatively, make sure that you are in the right mindset. Whether that be by playing your favourite album, going for a run, or having a hot bath. Elevating your mood does wonders for your creativity. And rather than seeing these things as self-indulgent or time wasting, try to re-frame them as creativity boosters.

  1. Get out into nature

One thing we can all do, while operating in a virtual world, is get into nature. Research has frequently shown the positive benefits of nature on our creativity. Being in nature reduces our stress and cortisol levels, allowing us to think more creatively. In one study amongst Danish professionals, they found that being in nature helps enhance our curiosity and encourages more flexible thinking. Therefore, get into greenspace whenever you can, or perhaps pop a pot-plant on your desk and you might be surprised by the creative benefits.

  1. Let your mind wander

While we do not want to spend our days endlessly lost in boredom, research shows that idle time promotes creativity. One rationale for this, is that by allowing time for our mind to wander, we tap into our unconscious and can access memories and make meaningful connections. However, in today’s digital world, it’s all too easy to fill up our idle time trawling through social media and watching funny cat videos. But our digital addictions are hindering our creativity. Therefore, try to embrace some of the empty space in your day, and see where your mind takes you.

  1. Go wide

Research shows a positive connection between diversity and creativity; be that diversity of people, diversity of experiences, diversity of thought. Famous entrepreneur Steve Jobs said that the best innovators can connect experiences and synthesise new things. And they can do this because they have had more experiences themselves. One benefit of today’s virtual world is that we have access to a plethora of virtual experiences. Virtual tours of the Faroe Islands, on-demand Jazzercise classes, and mobile apps to learn a new language. All these unique experiences help create data points that our unconscious can access for future creativity. So rather than reverting to another re-run of Schitt’s Creek, try opting for something new. As you never know what game-changing ideas it could help you come up with.

  1. Collaborate

A six-year study of over 3000 executives found that the best innovators, amongst other things, are great networkers. They go out of their way to collaborate with different types of people, and this helps them come up with more creative ideas. The virtual world gives us access to a global community. Meaning we can just as easily connect with people in Nigeria as we can with our teammates in Sydney. Therefore, make sure that you are having meaningful conversations. Conversations that help you look at things differently and which broaden your perspective. Bounce your ideas off people from diverse backgrounds and listen to their ideas.

Next time you are lacking creative inspiration, try one of these five techniques and you might just be surprised where it takes you.