Whether you’re a computer coder or a marketing manager, most remote workers operate in the realm of creativity. You’re seeking solutions to the problems that your clients and customers face. If you just follow the beaten path of your competitors, then you won’t stand out among them and will struggle to find work. Becoming better at creative thinking allows you to find original solutions, which is key to building a profitable and sustainable business.

When you’re struggling to come up with anything original, it’s easy to assume that creativity is nothing more than an inherent skill that some people have and others don’t. However, most studies show that creativity is a skill that can be taught, improved, and developed. Like fitness or music, the more you practice it, the better you’ll be. Here are five exercises for remote workers looking to become more creative.

Writing Exercises

Writing is a creative pursuit that’s open to everyone. If you have access to a computer or a pen and paper – along with a basic level of literacy – then you can start writing right now. Turning abstract thoughts into words can help you understand them more clearly and use them to extrapolate new ideas. That’s why there are so many great digital nomad blogs.

There are a few writing exercises that are quick, fun, and easy for you to try. Doing them stretches you creatively and forces you to think in a new way. For instance, whatever problem you’re working on, try and write a paragraph about it without using the letter ‘e’. An idea about package wellness retreats for remote workers could become “fully paid happy thought vacations for digital nomads”. Suddenly, you’ve got a unique concept.

Other fun exercises include writing ten-word stories that must include a clear beginning, middle, and end. Or try and summarize your professional mission in ten words, three words, and one word. Any of these exercises force you into a different way of thinking, helping you clarify ideas and come up with new ones.

Doodle Monsters

If you prefer visual thinking to linguistic exercises, then you could try doodling. You might not be confident in your artistic ability, meaning you’re not ready to start creating stunning oil paintings. However, anyone can doodle. This is a great way to activate the visually creative part of your brain.

Close your eyes, put your pen on the paper, and move it around at random. Now, open your eyes and look at the mess you’ve created. Your goal is to turn this random squiggle into a shape. You could transform it into a fantastical animal, called a doodle monster, or choose something else. The point is that you’re taking something nonsensical and making it make sense.

A follow-up exercise could be to write a story about your doodle monster. Give them a backstory, motivations, and some life goals. This exercise only takes a couple of minutes but it helps to engage your imagination. Then, you can go back to your work project in a more creative frame of mind. 

Talk to Strangers

The most creatively successful people are humble enough to know that they may not have all the answers. They make time to network with other people, picking their brains to see how the problem might be solved from a different perspective. You could ask your friends or colleagues for their ideas but there might be a more effective solution.

Take on the role of a journalist, head outside, and start talking to people. By putting strangers on the spot, you’ll get a real insight into how their minds work. They won’t have any preconceptions about the subject nor any real desire to please you. They’ll just say the first thing that comes to mind.

Say you’re thinking of an idea for a book. You could ask what kind of thing they’d like to read. If they don’t read, then ask what story would convince them to pick up a book. Once you’ve interviewed several different people, you’ll have accumulated their wisdom and can put it together into an idea that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Use Sensory Deprivation

In the modern world, you’re spoon-fed so much information all the time that it can be hard to find space for original thoughts. We’re never bored anymore, yet boredom breeds creativity. Every time you’re on a bus, waiting in line, or cooking dinner, you’re probably scrolling through social media or listening to a podcast. When was the last time you were truly bored?

Switch off your phone, find a quiet place, and let your mind wander. Get into the habit of letting yourself become bored and being comfortable with it. One fantastic way to do this is by getting into a sensory deprivation tank. They’re designed specifically for this purpose.

Without any sensory information to process, the brain can start to do weird things. Some people experience auditory and visual hallucinations during this time. Over extended periods, isolation isn’t good for you. In small doses, though, it can force your brain into coming up with new ideas.

Find a New Environment

Routine is great for productivity but can be deadly for creativity. If you’ve been stuck in a creative rut for a while, then finding a new environment can get your juices flowing again. You could leave your home office and head to a coffee shop, where you’ll be confronted with new sounds, smells, and sights to inspire new ideas.

Or take a hike. Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”. He had a point. Put your laptop and phone away and go somewhere beautiful for a walk. Moving your body helps your brain to become more active while removing all distractions gives your thoughts a chance to wander. Follow them and see where they go.

If you really want a change of scene, then consider taking a trip abroad. As a remote worker, you have the freedom to travel around. Why not leave for a tropical paradise like Bali and immerse yourself in more creative surroundings?

If you’re looking for a short-term rental apartment as a creative escape, then start searching for properties on Anyplace. Slow, sustainable travel can stimulate creativity without causing burnout, helping you discover those lightbulb moments of inspiration. Wherever you’re working from, use the exercises above to start thinking more creatively.

Where to next? Find flexible month-to-month rentals across the globe on Anyplace.

a man taking a selfie in front of a mountain.

Born in Oxford, UK, Thom has been a digital nomad since graduating from the University of Sheffield in 2016. He’s a freelance writer and founder of Thom Brown Travel. Thom specializes in minimalist, ethical, and meaningful travel writing.

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