33 Surprising Ways to Boost Creativity for Free

5. Write by hand.

Carrie Barron, M.D., and Alton Barron, M.D., authors of The Creativity Cure, advise us to skip the Word doc and pick up a pen instead. Sometimes the whole experience of writing by hand—the ink on our fingers, the smell of a fresh notebook—is all it takes to get creative juices flowing.

6. Daydream.

What was I saying? Oh, right. We tend to take a more creative approach to problems when our mind is wandering (less so when we’re hunched over a computer with a deadline looming). So don’t worry about zoning out for a few minutes.

7. Look at something blue or green.

These colors tend to enhance performance on cognitive tasks. Researchers say that’s because we associate blue with the ocean, sky, and openness in general, while green signals growth. Check out that globe the next time a problem pops up.

8. Gesture with two hands.

Odd but true: One study found using two hands to explain something prompts the brain to consider issues from multiple perspectives. (It’s also possible that using the left hand stimulates creative thought, since left-handed people tend to be more creative in general.)

9. Sit outside a box.

Though it might sound a little strange, in one study, people who sat outside a box (literally) were better at thinking creatively than people who sat in it. No cardboard container handy? Try sitting in the hallway outside a room.

10. Have some booze.

In one study, participants who knocked back an average of three drinks were more creative than people who didn’t drink at all. That’s possibly because a little alcohol lets us think more broadly, finding connections between unrelated ideas. But hey, keep it classy: There’s nothing creative about a pile of vomit or other less desirable outcomes.

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