Read time 2mInsights


Creative thinking is something everyone can exercise, but the pressure of constant ‘Teams’ meetings and urgent deadlines makes finding enough time difficult.

In The Creative Nudge by Kevin Chesters and Mick Mahoney, ‘nudge theory’ breaks out of the strict confines of government behavioural science units and into the creative realm.

At its most basic, a nudge is a little change to our behaviour or thought pattern that can have a disproportionately large impact on an outcome. A nudge makes things a little easier, a little simpler or more motivating.

Chesters and Mahoney show that making some simple behaviour changes can retrain your brain to be more creative and rewarding while having fun at the same time.

Here are some of our favourite nudges for creative thinking from the book.

1.Do familiar things in unfamiliar ways.  Grab an apple, and instantly make yourself more creative and open to new ways of thinking by holding it in your non-dominant hand and taking a bite.  Walking a different way to work or stirring your tea the opposite way round to usual also does the trick.

2.Embrace fatigue.  You do your best creative thinking when tired as your brain is less vigilant, making it easier for abstract ideas to form.  Tackle your most analytical tasks when at your peak and get creative when feeling low on energy.

3.Daydream more.  Your ‘default mode network’, active when you daydream, is central to your ability to generate ideas.  Allow yourself to get bored.  Go for a walk or find a quiet space and set an hour or so a day to let your mind wander.

4.Become a single-tasker.  Multi-tasking makes it impossible to think deeply or creatively.  Chunk your diary and guard your time fiercely, avoiding interruptions.

5.The overnight test.  We all fall in love with our ideas sometimes.  Before you go to bed, write down your amazing idea as clearly as possible on a piece of paper on your bedside table.  When you wake up, before you do anything else, re-read your idea.  Still excited?

6.Encourage dissent against group thinking. Create a little reminder to yourself not to follow the herd by drawing the number 10 on your hand.  Whenever you feel yourself getting swept along by that intoxicating thought or person in a group setting, count to 10.  Decide whether you really agree it’s the right thing to do.

7.Pick up a pen.  Writing things down triggers a ‘mental lifting’ response in your brain, forcing you to engage more deeply and focus on what matters.