Creativity Boost

by Josh Cowen

What do you think of when you hear the word, “boost”? Do you think of Knight Rider and KITT, when they needed added “boost” to jump the ravine? Maybe energy drinks helping get you through that all-nighter come to mind. Maybe you think of when your child needed a booster seat so they could reach the table. No matter what you think of, boost means something needs to be added to help you get where you need to go.

And speaking of added things, isn’t that how life is? More and more tasks are added to our to-do lists and our lives become busier. Between work, friends, social engagements, unexpected emergencies, workouts, household duties, family, sports, and other life events, it’s no wonder we all drink so much coffee to get that boost! Did you know that the US consumes 400 million cups of coffee per day? Holy Cowen, that’s a lot of coffee to keep us going!

But that boost of coffee only gets us so far. So what? Who cares? We’re all in the same boat, right? Well, I care. I’m tired and I want out of the boat! When I’m tired my creativity is almost nil, and I hate that. If you’re like me, and you need that creativity for work, for play, for your kids… you need more than a daily coffee boost. You need some balance. I want to give you a few insights into what I’ve learned about balance over the last few months that have given me a better boost than all the coffee in the world.

  1. QUIT—Quit saying yes to so many things. Quit some of the commitments you have. Quit trying to please everyone. It’s that easy. Free up your life. Author and speaker Bob Goff lives by this principal—he tries to quit something every day. We all need to do the same to free up our lives, minds, and souls.
  2. TAKE A BREAK—Take a break for lunch instead of working through it. This one’s hard for me, but I find when I do take a lunch break, the afternoon’s creativity comes much easier. Go for a walk (and not a short one)! Get up from behind your desk and stretch. Do something else for a few minutes and let your mind do the same. In an interview on scientificamerican.com, author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang says, “Work and rest are actually partners. They are like different parts of a wave. You can’t have the high without the low. The better you are at resting, the better you will be at working.”
  3. PLAY—You’ve heard the old adage, “Work hard, play hard.” I am a firm believer in this. When it’s time to work, bust your butt to get it done. And when it’s time to play, play hard. In fact, if you want to hear a great talk on the subject, check out Tim Brown’s TED talk on Creativity and Play.

So that boost we need might actually mean that instead of adding something to boost your creativity, what we really need to do in this overstimulated world is to take some things away. Let’s give our minds, bodies, and souls a rest. These things can definitely be hard to do (You might be thinking, “But I have so much stuff to get done!), but they become easier the more you do them. I promise you this, quit something, take a break, or play and the more important things will get done faster.