Five ways to be more innovative every day

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Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
29 March 2019

Being an ‘innovator’ might seem intimidating, and reserved only for the brightest entrepreneurs.

But actually, we could all be a little more original in our thinking. Here are three things we can all do to bring a little more innovation to our everyday lives…

1. Listen

Listen, watch, wait. We’re not talking about crossing the road but the importance of being in tune with what’s happening in the world to help you be more innovative.

If you want to come up with an idea that will change the world, or even just impact your own life, then you need to pay attention. Notice the everyday problems that you encounter and start to think about how you could solve them.

For entrepreneurs, Richard Branson says that listening to feedback from customers is crucial. When Virgin Hotels opened its doors in 2015, he said that the team learned a lot in the first few months about what customers wanted, what worked and how they could improve.

2. Have something different for breakfast

Humans are creatures of habit. We tend to get up at the same time every day and reach for the same food as we start our mornings. But a change in our normal routine could leave us more creative than before.

A paper published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, discovered that any kind experience that pushes you out of your “normal thought patterns” can lead to more creative thinking.

Psychologist Simone Ritter tested this by asking participants in the Netherlands to prepare a sandwich with butter and chocolate chips (a Dutch breakfast delicacy). Some participants were asked to prepare the sandwich in an unudual order, by dipping the buttered bread into a plate of chocolate chips, while a control group prepared it in their usual way. They found that those who had prepared the sandwich in the strange way were able to think more creatively. So ditch that daily bowl of porridge and switch up your routine to get your creative juices flowing.

3. Work with others

“The place where innovation most often stalls is in nurturing it from the seed of an idea to a fully grown product. And the key to hurdling that barrier is usually getting buy-in from the right people," says Chase Jarvis, founder and CEO of CreativeLive. He adds that innovation is a social process.

So get out there, engage with other people who have the same problem you do and discuss ideas for how you can solve it. Work with other people who have a different perspective that they can bring to help you find the solution to whatever problem you're struggling with.

4. Take risks

Arguably the most important part of innovation is taking risks. If you want to be more innovative in your everyday life then you’re going to have to take some chances.

Sometimes these will work out and you’ll have found a new way to solve a problem. But often, you’ll find that it doesn’t quite work so you’ll have to go back and find another way of doing it.

Richard Branson says: “Don’t let the fear of failure become an obstacle. You can create your own luck by opening the door to change, progression and success.”

Branson focuses on entrepreneurs, saying that few businesses would have found success without taking risks, but it is applicable to all walks of life. Whether you’re running a big business, want to come up with a solution to the single use plastics problem, or you’re simply looking for a way to stop you forgetting your keys when you leave the house, you’ll have to try new things. But be prepared to go back to the drawing board and start again if it doesn't work out.

5. Surround yourself with blue

We all associate different colours with certain feelings. According to a study from the University of British Columbia, if you want to be more innovative you should surround yourself with the colour blue.

"Through associations with the sky, the ocean and water, most people associate blue with openness, peace and tranquility," explains Juliet Zhu, who conducted the research. "The benign cues make people feel safe about being creative and exploratory."

So get that paintbrush at the ready as it's time to paint the place blue to encourage creativity. Consider putting on a blue outfit, or heading to the shore to take in some natural blues from the sea.