For many of us, we consider creativity as simply a gift or talent anointed to a select lucky few – but creativity is a skill that can be strengthened if you engage with targeted techniques and learn to discover and amplify your personal creative abilities.  

The ideal state for creativity is what experts call a state of flow, a psychological theory and state of being that supercharges motivation and creativity. As everyone is unique and our minds work differently, there are various methods that can be used to tap into your own flow state.  

Try one or all the activities listed below to discover how you can tap into your own unique flow zone, amplify your creative mind, and think of new ideas you never thought possible.  

1. Sensing:

A link to sensing can sharpen our awareness of when we’re in the flow zone. By acknowledging your senses, you can discover how olfaction (otherwise experienced as smell and taste) shapes memory and meaning – and stimulate creativity in the process. Engaging with sensory experience works to “enhance self-regulation” as well as “activate unexplored neural connections” to help us with idea generation and problem-solving, according to UTS academic Barbara Doran (2022).   

Try this: 

Dr Doran describes how “listening is an act of finding our place in the world” and influences many facets of our being - from our mood, recall, and spatial awareness. Unlike our other senses, your ears are always engaged and open. 

She suggests an activity in which you take one of your senses on a date for an hour. 

1. You can go inside, outside, to a quiet space or loud space – it’s totally up to you.  
2. Note all the sounds that make up your environment, prompt memories, or create a feeling of space.  
3. Now note the shape of the different sounds you observed; are they louder, quieter, higher in pitch, longer lasting, regular, or irregular?  

This activity widens your attention and primes your mind for creativity. It may also prompt a flow state, so try it before tackling a new problem or project. 

2. Sketching:

Discover how drawing helps us to see what’s not seen, get over assumptions, and create a powerful way of making connections with others. Doodles and squiggles that you mark down on a page as you think, can be reframed as a visualisation of our thoughts in real-time. As Dr Doran describes, these messy sketches can act as the “echo of thought paths”, and a referrable record of details long after the memory of the conversation is gone.  In this way, sketching can be used as a powerful tool to clarify our thoughts and articulate our thinking. 

Try this:

Dr Doran’s next activity requires a buddy, so you’ll need to choose a topic/problem and a partner to sketch with – as well as a pen for each of you and a piece of paper.  

1. As you discuss your problem or topic, sketch at the same time. Overlap, use all of the page with no regard for aesthetics or design. Let the sketching act as “an extension of your mind” as you unpack both of your thinking.  
2. When you’re done, annotate your sketches with notes to help you remember your thoughts and conversation when you refer back to the sketch.  
3. Note the neat lines vs emotive and circular lines, as well as separations or heavy traffic on the page.  

These can demonstrate what you were thinking as a pair – and where your thinking synced or shifted throughout your conversation, helping you understand a more fully formed perception of your issue and note things you may not have noticed before. 

3. Binary Code

Professionals who work in engineering, IT, data analytics, or finance/accounting may think that as their profession doesn’t directly engage with the arts, creativity is not used to enhance job performance. In fact, even binary code can be used to reconsider how information might be lost or gained through technology to enhance creative problem solving and idea generation. 

Try this: 

In this exercise, Dr Doran invites you to create “physical and tangible binary coding” as a way of revealing and slowing down the digital language that permeates so much of our daily lives. 

1. Use the ASCII code table to write your name in binary code 

A 01000001 N 01001110
B 01000010 O 01001111
C 01000011 P 01010000
D 01000100 Q 01010001
E 01000101 R 01010010
F 01000110 S 01010011
G 01000111 T 01010100
H 01001000 U 01010101
I 01001001 V 01010110
J 01001010 W 01010111
K 01001011 X 01011000
L 01001100 Y 01011001
M 01001101 Z 01011010

2. Create a logbook using binary code to name all the people you interact with over a day 
3. Ask each of these people for a story about the origins of their name 
4. Notice how these extended conversations create a place for deeper, more meaningful social interactions. 

At the end of the day, reflect on what was lost and gained in the two different forms of information gathering. Speed? Compression? Intimacy? 

What's next?

By engaging with these activities, you provide enriching stimuli for your creative mind. The key is to focus on the quality of experience and to recognise moments that are important to the quality of creativity - so you can get into your own flow zone and make new connections. 

If you’d like to experience some of these activities and more of Dr Doran’s techniques for engaging your creative mind, UTS’s Transdisciplinary Innovation School is hosting a Creative Intelligence Catalyserget tickets here

For an in-depth look at Creative Intelligence, UTS Open has a microcredential so you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your creative mind. 

Or, to learn more about the exercises in this course and read case studies of people who have applied them see Dr Doran's book Creative Reboot.