By Mordy Golding | Thursday, April 03, 2014
We all strive to be more creative. How many times have we admired a cool campaign, an ingenious product design, a spectacular photograph, a smart logo, or an awesome video clip—and wished we could have come up with those ideas?
So how do we grow in our creativity? The first step is expanding our vision and embracing more of what’s around us. Reading is one way to do that. In his course Drawing Vector Graphics, Von Glitschka equates reading to “thinking with someone else’s head.” And while it’s true that reading—and reading almost anything—will help you become more creative, it’s a slow, gradual process that requires investment over time. You can’t just read one thing and—BAM!—you’re a more creative person.
There is a quick fix however—a way to get an instant energy boost of creativity. And so I present my top one ways to be more creative.
1. ATTEND A CONFERENCE.
Sure, in today’s YouTube world, you can watch TED Talks and learn just about any topic. But attending a conference is different. It’s tactile. It’s real. And it will instantly allow you to embrace a creative mind-set where you can see your profession through the minds of others. Being at a conference is like reading 100 different books all at once; your senses border on information overload and you automatically absorb a creative vibe.
Going to a conference often means stepping away from your office for a few days. It means travel expenses. And that’s why, as someone who has traveled the world both presenting at and attending conferences, I’ve put together a list of tips to help anyone make the most of it.
A. Pick the right conference. When choosing a conference, look a year or two in the future and decide what skillset you’ll need or want. Conferences that cover topics adjacent to your field are better than just immersing yourself in subjects you already know about or actively engage in. This is an opportunity to go outside your comfort zone and expand your mental boundaries. Also, the bigger events aren’t always better. Smaller niche conferences or events often offer far more value than the larger ones.
B. Go to grow conceptually, not to learn something specific. Attending a live event offers an incredible opportunity to expand your creative vision, and your primary goal is to immerse yourself in something that you don’t need to accomplish today or tomorrow. If you need to learn something specific, online training through websites like lynda.com offer a FAR better experience. Want to learn how to build a website or shoot and edit video content? Watch an online course. Want to learn how to think like a web designer or embrace the art of storytelling or marketing through video? Go to a conference.
C. Plan your schedule in advance. Many conferences offer multiple tracks and sessions. Take the time to mark those that you’d like to attend and those that you have to attend. Think about when you’ll have downtime and, if there’s travel involved, be sure to plan around potential delays or snafus. Oh, and stick to your plan. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a conference wishing you had attended that session you originally wanted to go to—but didn’t at the last minute.
D. Disconnect from the world. I know it’s hard—but you have to turn off your phone and forget about your email. Before you head to the conference, clearly communicate with your coworkers, manager, or clients, and set expectations for when you’ll be available (i.e., during scheduled breaks) and when you’ll realistically be able to respond to email (i.e., within 24/48 hours). Whatever you do, don’t be that person who is constantly walking in and out of sessions clutching a phone.
E. Document your experience. There are only two things you need to bring with you to a conference: a notebook and a camera. The notebook is for capturing your thoughts during the conference sessions. The camera is for capturing what happens outside the venue. Remember, you’re not at the conference to learn, you’re there to grow. So use your notebook and camera to capture what inspires you, and what you plan to share with others.
F. Be your own social network. Talk to other attendees and chat it up with the presenters. This is your chance to learn from other like-minded professionals in the perfect nonoffice environment. Depending on your personality, you may find it easier to hang out with others when you have a buddy at your side, so if you can swing it, go with a colleague. Talking with others about what was covered in sessions at the conference is a great way to gather points of views that you may not have considered.
G. Get outside the venue. Most conferences offer you an opportunity to see a different city or experience a different culture. In many cases, the creativity you gain will come from the things you’ve seen outside the walls of the conference center or hall. If you can, plan an extra day either before or after the conference to put yourself into the right mind-set.
With the proper planning and approach, attending even a single conference will instantly enhance your creativity!
So what do you do to boost your creativity? Share your tips with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+!
Image by Timothy Krause
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