Want to make 2018 your most creative year ever? Here are ten simple hacks that can help:

1. Clench your left hand

“The next time you have a creative problem to solve, squeeze your left hand into a fist,” suggests Amantha Imber at Success. Although the idea sounds far-fetched, it’s backed up by a study that asked one group of people to squeeze a ball with their left hand, while another group squeezed with the right hand. “It was found that this simple act of squeezing one’s left hand activated a brain circuit associated with thinking holistically and intuitively, and thus more creatively,” Imber writes.

2. Think “inside the box”

We’ve all been advised to “think outside the box” – the idea being that freedom from boundaries can spark creativity. But it turns out that imposing limits can, paradoxically, do much the same thing. “Setting restrictions or guidelines refines your problem, giving rise to undiscovered possibilities that might be useful in making the most creative solution,” writes Kerby Rosanes at UCreative.

3. Purposely head in the wrong direction

One cure for the lack-of-creativity-blues is to try to think of ways to achieve exactly the opposite of what you really want to accomplish, suggests Daniel Tay at Piktochart. “For example, if you want to design something elegant and beautiful, attempt to break all the rules and make something ugly instead.”

4. Leverage “psychological distance”

“Try to imagine your creative task as being disconnected and distant from your current position/location,” writes Sparring Mind, citing research indicating that subjects were much more likely to solve challenging “insight problems” if they thought of the source of the task being at a distance, rather than nearby. Doing this “may make the problem more accessible and can encourage higher-level thinking,” according to the site.

5. Don’t try too hard

“If your creativity is lacking, unplug. Relax. And let your brain do its magic,” writes Larry Kim at Inc. “Sometimes your best ideas will come when you’re not wracking your brain trying to come up with the next great idea. It could be while you’re sleeping. A good night of rest will help you be more productive and creative. It could be while your mind wanders in the shower that you get a great idea.”

6. Stay positive

“Researchers have found that it is during strong positive moods that our best creative work is done,” writes Gregory Ciotti at 99U. “Getting yourself to a positive place” is not as trite as it may sound – any number of mood boosters (quick exercise, envisioning the future, recalling good memories) will do the trick to influence your mood, and your creative efforts will be at their best when your attitude is positive.”

7. Embrace change

“Creative ideas are often new, scary and a little daunting, so becoming accustomed to change makes your creative life much easier and less tiresome going forward,” writes Cassius Kiani at UX Planet. “Take a cold shower in the morning, put on socks that don’t match or cut your hair in a fun new way. Ultimately, what you do doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you do something to shake things up.”

8. Travel (or explore your own city)

“There are plenty of things to be gained from going abroad: new friends, new experiences, new stories,” writes Brent Crane at The Atlantic. “But living in another country may come with a less noticeable benefit, too: Some scientists say it can also make you more creative,” he notes, citing research linking travel with increased cognitive flexibility. “If a plane ticket isn’t an option, maybe try taking the subway to a new neighborhood. Sometimes, the research suggests, all that’s needed for a creative boost is a fresh cultural scene.”

9. Look at something blue

“A study from the University of British Columbia found that when looking at blue objects and packaging test subjects experienced an increase in creative and imaginative thinking,” writes Ryan Cooper at That may be due to blue’s association with concepts like openness and opportunity. “Conversely, when looking at red objects or packaging the same subjects experienced an increase in attention to detail,” he notes.

10. Search for the “odd one out”

“Enhancing our ability to create new and original solutions to problems can be as simple as staring at an image that depicts the notion of ‘being different,’” writes Libby-Jane Charleston at HuffPost, citing a study comparing ideas generated by people looking at a poster depicting an “odd one out” image versus people seeing an image representing conformity, while also trying to think of different uses for an object.

“The ‘odd one out’ viewers came up with significantly more ideas,” she writes. “In addition, their ideas were judged as being 25-percent more creative.”