In my creativity coaching practice at Creative Cocoon, I’ve found that although most clients come to me for help with larger creativity projects, they often report the most significant positive change from our work integrating creativity into their everyday lives. Integrating creativity into their everyday lives—huh? What does that even mean?
Many people use the term “everyday creativity” to describe the creative thinking involved in solving everyday problems, such as using a paper clip to poke out the SIM card in your phone. I prefer to use it to refer to integrating creative and artistic thinking and expression into our daily activities, something I call micro-creativity.
What is micro-creativity? In my definition, micro-creativity refers to small, self-contained creative or expressive activities that you perform in your daily life. The main purpose of micro-creativity is to strengthen your creative habits without the anxiety often associated with larger projects. You can also think of it as creativity for creativity’s sake. Here are some examples:
- Whilst waiting for your son to get out of school, you people-watch and imagine their backstories and personalities.
- On your morning tram ride, you write short poems to express your current state of mind.
- During lunch breaks, you wander the streets and take photos of details that catch your eye.
Benefits of micro-creativity You can’t substitute all of your downtime with micro-creativity; your brain would fatigue. But sacrificing just a small chunk of mental “lazy time” each day can, I believe, result in many benefits, including:
- Increased creative problem solving. Tapping into your creativity at random times strengthens the connection between your logical and creative minds, which helps with problem solving in your work, creative, and personal lives.
- Increased self-awareness. The more you interact with your creativity, the better you understand and appreciate its existence, warts and all. Building a stronger relationship with your creativity can benefit your creative process and help you develop your sense of self.
- Increased confidence. The more you practice, the better you become. By improving skills, you gain confidence and a sense of capability in your creative life.
- Increased wellbeing. Creative self-expression without boundaries, deadlines, or judgment can help you work through personal issues and channel emotions (although self-guided creative therapy is no substitute for professional help).
- Increased discipline. Practicing daily micro-creativity gets you into the habit of regular creative expression, which can help reduce anxiety (and procrastination) around your larger creative projects.
- Increased observation skills. Micro-creativity can help improve your observational skills, which are key for creative thinking and expression.
When and how to micro-create You can micro-create whenever you have mental downtime, which means whenever your full attention is not focused on another task. Some examples include:
- Waiting in queues
- Riding public transport or as a passenger in a car
- Taking lunch breaks
- Swimming laps or running on a treadmill
- Showering or bathing
- Waiting on hold on the phone
Micro-creativity activities are limited only by your imagination. Some examples are listed below, but be creative and make up some of your own.
- Take photos of interesting details.
- Write a poem.
- Write stream of consciousness.
- Draw or photograph self portraits over multiple days.
- Watch people and make up their backstories.
- Tune into your senses and record what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
- Play a word game, such as a rhyming game.
- Doodle mindlessly or draw patterns.
- Record a voice memo of your observations or thoughts (as if you were a private detective).
- Imagine life from someone else’s perspective. What are they experiencing in that moment?
- Write a letter to your future self, then reply as the future self back to your present self.
- With headphones on, listen to music and imagine what the music would look like if it were a painting.
Conditions In order for your exercises to count as micro-creativity, you need to meet the following conditions:
- Don’t think, just do. Don’t overthink the activity. Tune into “doing” mode (rather than “thinking” mode) for the duration of the activity.
- Minimise judgment and pressure. Put your inner critic aside and accept whatever comes out as part of the process. There is no “good” or “bad.” To help, imagine a child has done the exercise. You wouldn’t judge her on the final work; you would simply be proud of her for putting in the effort.
- Choose your content. Work with content unrelated to your current projects to reduce the risk of anxiety. After a while, you’ll be surprised how often random creative exercises turn into something bigger or link back to a larger project.
- Keep it quick and dirty. Limit your exercises to between five and fifteen minutes. Any longer and your inner critic will step in. If it helps, set a timer. Remember, it’s the process that counts, not the result.
- Commit. Commit to at least one activity a day, even when you don’t feel like it. Routine and persistence bring the longer-term creative benefits. Think of it like brushing your teeth. If it helps, decide on a regular time and set a phone alert or calendar entry.
- Minimise distractions. Try to minimise distractions whenever possible.
- Enjoy yourself. The more you enjoy an activity, the more likely you are to continue doing it. Choose exercises that are meaningful, fun, and enjoyable.
- Change it up. Be creative and choose different activities from day to day. The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg.
Additional resources If you'd like to read more about integrating creativity into your everyday life, I recommend the following books:
- Just Do Something, by Mykel Dixon
- The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp
- How to Be an Explorer of the World, by Kerri Smith
- The Creativity Challenge, by Tanner Christensen
- Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Bronya Wilkins is a creativity coach and founder of Creative Cocoon, a coaching practice dedicated to helping people connect with their creativity to increase wellbeing and life fulfilment. Bronya is passionate about psychology, self-development, and creative expression. Some of her creative hobbies include dance, graphic design, music composition, and photography. For more about Bronya and Creative Cocoon, visit her website and Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.