Have you played with colors lately? I sure have. In fact I play with colors everyday because it helps me think more clearly and explore possibilities and generate novel and original combinations. Yes, color improves creativity!
I often rely on sticky notes, colored pens, crayons, colored sips of paper and other color-coding devices to sort my thoughts and ideas. I also use these tools with other people and their ideas and questions and challenges and data. For me, black words on a white background feel inanimate. Putting words in color brings them to life. It gives them visual and visceral texture. Using lots of pieces of paper also makes them more malleable and manipulatable.
Try this sometime and see what you come up with. There really is no way to do it wrong, it is an experiment in fiuring hout to help yourself think better and more generatively. You can use colored paper when writing a paper or book, when planning a trip, when managing your time, or strategizing your business. And once you figure out your own preferred method for mixing and matching, you will likely find that you can use color for just about any challenge you face.
Here is a simple method to get you started…
1. Pick a challenge that you want some new thinking on. Trying phrasing it with a sentence starter like “How might I…” or “What Might Be All The Ways To…” and write it down where you can see it.
2. Select 3 different colored papers, sticky notes or markers. Try to have at least 20 of each colored page available (or 60 white pieces of paper if you are using colored markers)
3. Start with one color and write down all of the positive things, hopes, possibilities, dreams, desires and opportunities that you can think of associated with your challenge. Put all of these in the same color (one per sheet/sticky note).
4. Next, think about things that you are good at, your strengths, the things that people thank you for, the things you do that make you feel confident and proud. List all of these using a different color than you used before.
5. Next, using the color that you have left, start writing down random nouns. Any persons, places, or things that come to mind.
6. Begin by laying out all of the colors together. What kinds of patterns do you see within each color set? Are there any things that come to mind about your challenge when you look at what you have created?
7. Now you can play with the possibilities! Close your eyes and choose one paper from each colored section. The point is to be random. Now look at the three papers that you chose- the three seemingly unrelated things, and see what kinds of connections you can make between them. Sometimes thse connections will be obvious, sometime you will have to stretch your mind and think with metaphor (i.e. I wrote the strength organized and that makes me think of a library that organizes books, and that makes me think of knowledge that I want to attain) or use associations (i.e. I wrote makeup and that makes me think of taking care of myself). It is impossible to do this wrong! Whatever associations and connections you make, let your mind wander and play with them! The goal is to come up with new ways of thinking about your challenge.
8. Capture any ideas that come up in a journal or where you have written your challenge. The key to having good ideas it having lots of them. Try to come up with 10 or more. You can keep these colored papers and continue to play with them or create new ones for new challenges.
Most importantly, have fun! And if you come up with some fun new ways to use color to generate ideas, please share!