5 Brain Hacks To Never Run Out of Ideas Again

Kuba Czubajewski
Jan 22, 2024 – 7 min read
5 Brain Hacks To Never Run Out of Ideas Again

Table of contents

What if I told you, you can turn your creativity on at the push of a button and never run out of ideas again?

Most creatives use only a small fraction of their creative potential, and this is likely the reason you’re struggling to come up with content consistently.

I know this because in my journey as a professional content marketer, I’ve had to come up with several different strategies to meet client deadlines even when I had no creative juices left.

So in this article, I’ll show you 5 science-backed methods you can use to become effortlessly creative. And if you stick around till the end of the video, I’ll also show you why focusing too much on creativity is actually the wrong move.

Tip 1: Keep working even if you feel it’s pointless

We’re going to start with one of the biggest preconceptions we have about our creativity.

As a creative, you know how exciting it is to start working on a new idea. At the start, your head spits out golden chunks of ideas and visions — and the creative work doesn’t even seem like work.

But as time goes on, your excitement burns out. You start to get tired and run out of the new ideas.

It feels like your creativity will soon reach a sharp cliff — and you won’t come up with any interesting ideas anymore.

As psychologists Brian J. Lucas and Loran F. Nordgren found out, this feeling is not real.

After conducting 8 studies among 121 participants, they found out people expect their creativity to decline over time. As it turns out — it’s exactly the opposite.

Our creativity performance doesn’t decline over time. In some cases, it even increases as the time goes on.

The researches called this belief the creative cliff illusion.

Because of this, we tend to be less persistent about ideation. We don’t like spending time with the complex problems we’re facing.

A quick brainstorming session will be just enough to find the best solution, right? Right?!

Tip 2: System 1 and System 2

Not really.

Look, no matter how many productivity videos you’ll watch — your brain is still lazy.

It’s not your fault — it’s in our biology.

You might have heard of this book:

Daniel Kahneman, its author, described 2 systems our brain uses:

For our brains, it’s much more energy-efficient to use this system instead of deliberate, slower, and more demanding System 2. The problem is — not every problem you encounter can be solved by System 1.

Just because System 1 seems to spot a familiar pattern in a problem doesn’t mean you should trust it.

System 1 tends to ignore all the information it thinks is unnecessary to solve your problem — which can lead to some serious fallacies that lead to wrong conclusions.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look at this picture. Focus on the dot in the middle — stay still and don’t blink.

In just a few seconds, you might notice that all of the colors disappear.

This optical illusion will mess with your mind | indy100 | indy100

Did you get it?

Now, while it may seem like an interesting trick, it shows how our brains work perfectly.

When you stare at the dot in the middle, and the color pattern doesn’t move, your brain starts to assume what should be in the space instead of what actually is in it.

By being aware of this, you can shift how you approach using creativity to solve your problems.

Many of us think creativity is sudden and unexpected. One moment, we’re out of ideas, and the next — we’re overflown by creative forces.

And as you see — this is simply not true. By allowing yourself more time to ponder the problem, analyze all the aspects of it, and break it down into more digestible chunks, you’ll be able to reach more effective, thorough solutions — or more interesting ideas for your art or work.

Tip 3: Understand your own biases

Now, your brain doesn’t affect solely your own ideas.

It also looks for patterns and shortcuts in other people’s ideas, too – only to label them as absolutely disgusting.

And if you ever worked an office job and had to present your ideas to some decision-makers — you definitely fell prey to this. Even though your job description requires you to be creative, your boss seems to reject your ideas with all their guts.

But don’t worry, this is not about you having bad ideas or about your boss being a jerk (at least, I hope so).

It’s about a cognitive science phenomenon called The Anti-Creativity Bias.

The thing about creative ideas is that they have a high level of uncertainty. They’re novel and unknown to our pattern-driven brain.

So, when the uncertainty is high, our brain is telling us to stop right there and make sure we’re safe to pursue this idea.

A study conducted by Jennifer Mueller, Jack Goncalo, and Shimul Melwani revealed that we hate making decisions without seeing the whole picture of the problem — which is exactly what happens with creative ideas and innovations.

The experiment also showed that even when the participants liked creative solutions, they still perceived them as less creative than they actually were.

They didn’t fit into any pattern in their brains – so the instinct was to discard them.

A lot of people think creativity has a lot to do with the “gut feeling” of the creator. You can see often see those stories of creatives using only their intuition to achieve a massive success.

But the Anti-Creativity bias proves this theory wrong.

Your “gut feeling” is your brain telling you that something doesn’t fill the right pattern.

Instead of listening to it, you should take a step back and see if your brain isn’t trying to bias your viewpoint.

Tip 4: Take note of your mood

I don’t want to add more salt to the wound, but the anti-creativity bias is not the only way your brain tricks you into lowering your creativity.

Another big factor hides in an area of your brain called ACC.

ACC, or Anterior Cingulate Cortex, is an area of the brain responsible for, for example, attention allocation and decision-making. It helps us solve problems and come up with useful insights – two crucial things about any creative process.

But probably the most important part of this brain area is its dependence on your mood.

According to this study, we tend to come up with a bigger number of insightful ideas when we feel better. A good mood changes the way the brain's ACC area prepares for the task, making you more likely to think in a way that leads to sudden, smart solutions.

By changing how we focus and control our thoughts through the ACC part of the brain, we can make it easier to notice unusual but effective answers.

So, before approaching any creative task, ask yourself:

“How do I feel today?”

If you’re down, frustrated, or angry with something, it might be a good idea to step back from your creative task and do less creative, more analytical work.

Why? As recent studies found, negative mood doesn’t necessarily mean you’re no good at work.

Feeling negative enhances your analytical skills and allows you to think more logically and critically – which might be super valuable when you need to draw conclusions from your social media analytics, for example.

The point is that working against your brain is never a good idea. Instead, learn how to notice different signs your brain sends you and use them to your advantage.

Tip 5: Don’t sit and think

If you ever scrolled through any business-related content, you definitely saw entrepreneurs value one thing above all else:

Focus.

They pull all-nighters listening to alpha waves while sipping on their 11th coffee today, trying to achieve their extreme, giant goals.

The problem is:

Creativity doesn’t like strain.

You can’t simply force your brain into a creative state. And if you try, your brain will most likely switch off completely.

So, what to do instead?

2 things:

First, stand up and move. Several studies indicate that engaging in any form of movement can increase your creativity.

And the best part is that you don’t have to move in any specific way: a stroll around the neighborhood is as good as washing the dishes.

The point is — let your creativity work on an idea “in the background” while your body’s involved in something low-effort.

Walking, going to the gym, or cleaning — whatever it is, make sure it gives you some mental space for your idea to flourish.

The second thing is changing your environment.

Remember how much you struggled during math lessons in this cold, badly-lit classroom?

Classroom
Source

Well, at least if you are from Eastern Europe like I am.

The point is — your environment matters to your creativity — A LOT.

And it’s not only about the room you try to be creative in.

It’s the atmosphere of the place, the team dynamics, leaders enthusiasm, and many other different factors that influence how you feel inside the space.

And as you already know — the better your mood, the more creativity your brain allows.

And if you happen to prefer working alone — see which small things around you might upset you.

Maybe it’s the poor lighting.

Maybe you need more greenery.

Or maybe it’s about taking your laptop and heading out to a coffee shop.

With just a tiny change in your environment, you can help your head spark incredible creative ideas and use them to build your dream life or a business.