Gimme five

This week, I’d like to share with you five things I do routinely to engender creativity. Whether I’m building a new business, consulting for a client, or writing music, these things are employed at various times and in varying configurations. Your mileage may vary, but welcome to my zany world of self-provocation.1. Do things in fivesFive things are easier to remember. We have five fingers, attention spans of five minutes, five business days. Chinese mythology places a lot of importance in the number five (there are five notes in the Pentatonic scale, otherwise known to musicians as the Blues, or Chinese traditional music, or the powerchord, but I digress).If you can get by with five departments, five email folders, five blog points, five children, do it! This was a quick and easy one; just get down with five, alright!?2. Espresso in the AM, merlot in the PMYes I’m advocating drug use, albeit on the legal side of things. The brain is chemistry’s bitch, so sometimes when I’m on a work bender I’ll use caffeine (cocaine’s distant cousin) to pull me out of my rut and feel like I’m at one with my creative self.Then in the afternoon, after I’ve cajoled my membrane into action, I like to smooth it over with some antioxidants, in the form of a couple of glasses of red wine. Like a good athlete, I like to keep my grey-matter fine tuned (legally).3. Ride/runIncidentally, it works the other way too; abstaining from the aforementioned stimulants and undertaking some physical exercise releases endorphins and the feeling of mastery required to be a creative whirlwind.So an early morning workout has the same effect for me, and I’ll be buzzing for the rest of the day. Sometimes I’ll have a coffee, ride 20ks, drink some red wine, and solve world hunger, but that’s just how I roll (because I’m extremely creative).4. Use a split-personalityIf the physical activity or quasi-narcotics don’t get my synapses firing, I like to employ a little self-imposed psychosis and adopt a split personality (I usually call him Kevin).To be specific, and in my case we’re normally talking about new product development or marketing activities, I’ll normally adopt the guise of a customer seeing my product for the first time.Every business person should do this once a week. Just clear your head and be your target market.5. Write lists, with progressively more threatening checkboxes each time you procrastinateSir Richard Branson taught me this (not personally, but on a five-hour flight while reading his Virgin-sanctioned book) and, being susceptible to procrastination when creating, I’ve taken list writing to a whole new level.Check it out. At the start of each week I write a list of really specific things I’d like to get done, and draw a little checkbox to the left of them. If I complete something, I make a little show of ticking it (eg, punch the air, dance a jig).If I don’t tick it in reasonable time I’ll draw the box a little thicker, draw another box, or sometimes I’ll write self-imposed threats (eg, “I HAVE YOUR WIFE, DO THIS OR ELSE!”).Lists work my friends, as evidenced by my completion of this blog posting (ticks box, saves wife, does MC Hammer shuffle).Until next week, get hi-tech with ‘yer head.

– Ben Prendergast