When making New Year’s resolutions, people often focus on the bad habits they want to break: raiding the biscuit tin in the evenings, remaining glued to work emails over the weekend, spending too much time on social media…the list goes on! We prefer to think of the start of the year as an opportunity to develop good habits – ones that will help us become more effective, more productive and happier in the coming year – so this month we’ll be exploring some good habits for leaders to build on in 2014.

First up is developing creativity, something that can help us make better decisions, solve problems more easily, generate ideas, motivate and inspire others. Here are some simple steps you can take to make 2014 a creative new year!

Take some time to reflect

Think about the last time you felt really creative – where were you? Who was there? What were the circumstances? When it comes to creativity everyone is different. Taking the time to reflect on these questions will help you understand your creative side and how to tap into it. You might also want to take the self-assessment quiz ‘How Creative Am I?’, on the Good Practice Toolkit for Leaders, to find out how well you are using your creativity at work, and what you could do to improve.

Think about your routine

Some of the most famous creative minds in history have been fuelled by tried and tested – and sometimes unusual – working routines. According to Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration and Get to Work, Ernest Hemingway got up at the eye-watering time of 5.30am every day. Other notable early risers included Mozart and artist Georgia O’Keefe.

More unusual working rituals include Benjamin Franklin’s morning ‘air baths’ (in which he worked without any clothes on) and Beethoven’s super-strength morning coffee. He made the potent brew himself, counting out all 60 beans by hand. [1]

While these routines might not work for everyone – and we certainly wouldn’t recommend taking an air bath in the office! – you might want to think about experimenting with a couple of new rituals (or practising existing ones more regularly) to see what effect they have on your creativity.

Learn from creative colleagues and peers

While it is undoubtedly fascinating to learn from innovators of the past, bear in mind that there are likely to be creative people all around you, both at work and at home. Do you have a colleague who solves problems in an unusual but effective way, or a friend who always comes up with great ideas? Have a think about the creative people you know and find out what you can learn from them. Perhaps they have their own morning ritual or swear by a particular technique when they need to get the creative juices flowing. As you develop your own creativity, you will be able to return the favour by sharing your own tips and techniques with your peers and colleagues.

Try out new techniques

A whole host of established techniques exist to help people develop and apply their creativity at work. Perhaps the most famous of these is creativity guru Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, which enables creative problem-solving in a group. Other popular techniques include The Creativity Matrix, Idea Beam and Brainstorming. All these creativity techniques (and many more) are available within the GoodPractice Toolkit for Leaders – why not sign up for a free demo?

Encourage others to be creative

The chances are that you’ll have lots of creative people in your team or department – be sure to provide them with opportunities to work creatively. This might mean inviting ideas and suggestions from team members when working on a problem, or giving them interesting projects to work on. Ask team members to reflect on what gets their creative juices flowing and to share this with you.

You might also want to encourage them to try out one or more of the creativity techniques in the toolkit – you could even run one of these as an exercise for the whole team.

[1] Mason Currey, Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration and Get To Work (Picador, 2013).

The GoodPractice toolkit for Leaders and Managers includes a wide selection of resources on Creativity, including ‘Finding the Creative You’ and ‘How to Think Outside the Box’.