Today’s job market has very little room for routine work. The information age calls for creative-minded engineers, designers, and researchers to propel our technological advancements. Creative and critical thinking skills enable people to come up with innovative solutions for everyday problems. Recent advancements in technology and sustainability demonstrate that the world is drifting away from routine work and entering a creative renaissance.
What separates someone from their neighbor in today’s competitive society is their ability to think and create. Scientists, engineers, writers, and many others use such skills to solve problems on a daily basis.
The ability to think creatively is not innate to everyone, so it must be developed as a skill. Our education system often encourages critical thinking and creativity through problem-solving and design workshops, but classes are mostly geared towards convergent thinking, and our education systems can only do so much. The issue is, there is almost never a clear-cut answer to a single problem, and very few dilemmas are solved through a textbook answer. Creativity is developed through personal experiences of failure and success. But students entering the job market haven’t had time to go through the necessary accomplishments and defeats to naturally develop innovative skills. So, the process must be sped up.
Here are six tips to help you develop creative and critical thinking skills.
1. Take Time to Develop Skills
It is imperative for students to space out work, so there is time to dive fully into a subject. If you are assigned reading for a political science class, take the time to analyze and understand the text. Ask yourself what you agree and disagree with and why. Try to come up with alternatives. Use your educational foundation to develop your own personal “think tank.”
Engineers and researchers should dissect pre-existing inventions and ask themselves how it could be made better. Analyze the issues surrounding the device and come up with solutions. Maybe even develop an improved mock-second edition of the invention.
2. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is an easy way to expand your creative and critical thinking skills. This can mean reading a book or article that is completely unrelated to any previous studies, conversing with strangers on the street, or even having a difficult conversation with someone you’re close to. Anything that makes you a bit uncomfortable probably benefits you more than it harms you. We all grow from discomfort.
3. Free Write
This is a common technique used by journalists and writers suffering from writer’s block. It’s an easy tool to get the creative juices flowing. Open up a laptop, or grab a notebook and pen, and just start writing. It doesn’t have to be premeditated. Just let your mind take you wherever it wants to go. This is a great way to explore your thoughts and expand your creativity.
4. Travel Abroad
Cultural differences could initiate entirely separate approaches to problem-solving. Being aware of a broad range of solutions will enhance your ability to develop answers to future problems. Anything that furthers your cultural and geographical understanding will give you insight into how people across the world think and operate. Understanding people is an essential skill for success in business and in critical thought.
5. Stay Healthy
Your mind is in the best shape when your body is. Coupling exercise with a healthy diet can clear the mind and allow for creativity. Exercise cleans the body of toxins and increases energy. Some food possess the correct vitamins and protein to do the same.
Your work environment can also greatly affect the way the brain functions. Some people are easily distracted by a cluttered office or a dimly lit room. The temperature and scent where you work can also prevent your brain from firing on all cylinders. Most people are the most awake, aware, and ready to work when they are in clean, healthy, and organized environments.
6. Take Breaks
Everyone has reached points where they get stuck on an idea and can’t get past it. Don’t let this discourage you, and don’t blame yourself. That sort of thinking will make you disheartened and distracted, which will only make you even more frustrated.
Instead, take a breather. Go outside for some fresh air, take a walk, eat a meal, or call a friend. Distraction, in moderation, can be very rewarding. Sometimes that next sentence or idea will hit you when you sit back down at your desk, or even when you are in the middle of your break. Most of the time we posses the answers to our problems, it just may take a minute to find them.
Creative and critical thinking skills can be refined over time. Some people are born with creative talent, but others need time, practice, and dedication to develop it. Anyone can be inspired and anyone can let inspiration pass them by. The key is being aware and dedicated to a successful future of critical thought and innovation.
News & Content Manager
Jackson Schroeder is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School. He is originally from Savannah, Georgia. Jackson has covered a wide range of topics, including sustainability, technology, sports, culture, travel, and music. He plays bass and guitar, and enjoys playing and listening to live music in his free time.