Creative Design Thinking Ideas

Having creative block can be frustrating. It might be at the start of a project where you just can’t seem to get those creative thinking process going, or a limitation from a client that hinders your progress from coming up with creative ideas. Most of us wish we could just get creative, like turning on the ignition, but it doesn’t come naturally like that.

As creatives ourselves, we’ve hit this wall and had to find different ways to overcome this obstacle. We’ve written up 14 creative design thinking ideas for you to try that will help overcome creative block frustrations.

1. Push the Limitations

Most projects have limitations. If you have a great idea that you want to pursue but are hindered by a limitation, try challenging that limitation. Ask questions, ask what if. Sometimes clients don’t know what they want or need, they might put together a list of demands and restrictions that they think are standard. Challenging rules might make a client realize they can allow more leeway for more creative ideas and opportunities. It also gets the client involved in the creative thinking process.

If your client isn’t the type to allow for leeway, then it’s up to you to come up with fact based reasoning first, before challenging those limitations.

2. Going With Your Gut

Our brains stores everything, client interactions, personal experiences, emotional information and so forth. We have the capacity to know things without conscious reasoning. Our intuition, that gut feeling is real and we use it all the time. Sometimes we might be unsure about pursing an idea because a client or your boss suggest it may not work, but you feel strongly that it could work. You should go listen to yourself, trust yourself. Go for it.

3. Change Your Perspective

When faced with creative block, you might be thinking only about your situation. Start looking at it from different perspectives, imagine what the client or your boss envisions what the outcome should look like. Maybe the problem you’re facing isn’t a concern at all to your boss or client. Ask questions and gain more perspective insights.

4. A New Direction

Your creative process may not be working this time so it’s time to try thinking or looking at a new direction. Perhaps work backwards. Think about the end result, the goal of the project and work in reverse. This might open up a pathway of new questions you may not have though of asking yourself or your client when you started on the project. This might change the focus on the project but hopefully that will be a good thing.

5. Think Outside The Box

As creatives we like our routines and our comfort zone. But every now and then it’s good to leave your psychological comfort zone and explore other solutions. But how do we “think outside the box”? Here are some suggestions:.

  • Look at a different industry – If you’re working for a client, you’ve probably done your homework and researched your client’s competitors. You know the pros and cons, what areas to improve and not do, but if you want to make your work even better you need to look at other industries not related to what you’re focused on. This is how other companies make innovations to their products. Looking at other industries helps you with creative design thinking and innovation thinking.
  • Talk to someone else – If you’re in a room with the same people everyday working on a project, take a break and step out and talk to someone else not familiar with the project, they might have an idea or a solution for you.

6. Step Outside of The Box

Leave where you normally work at and wander a bit. Take a walk, get a coffee break, visit a bookstore. Let your mind wander a bit. Our senses associates with another thing, giving a jolt in our memory bank. The colors and shapes of objects, the smell of the coffee, the texture of the leather seat at the coffee shop can make connections for us and in a way can break that creative block. Visit your favorite store and just look, touch, or smell to get some creative ideas going. A bookstore is a great place for that.

7. Be One With Nature

Being outside is good for you, especially somewhere with a lot of trees. The park for example is a good place. If you’re feeling tired, unmotivated, or uninspired, then go outside where there’s lots of green and soak it all in. Walking helps increase concentration skills [SOURCE], and can also increase your creative thinking [SOURCE]. Studies have shown that nature can lower stress levels and lower your heart rate. Being outdoors will make you feel more positive, more focus, more energetic and improve your outlook.

8. Do Something Fun

Break your usual pattern of doing things and do something random. Take a break and go get ice cream, draw a bear fighting a dragon in the forest, play the guitar, take a different path home, watch something funny. The idea is to loosen up and have fun. Fun and laughter can boost your creative thinking, your imagination and get you closer to that “aha” moment.

9. Ponder For A Moment

When brainstorming and generating creative ideas and solutions, don’t quickly disregard an idea that you think is a bad idea right off the bat. Ponder for a moment on it, maybe dig a little deeper on it. You never know if an idea is really a bad one without some investigating effort put into it first. Be sure to write down all the brainstorming ideas you thought off and put them in three columns: Great, Good, Bad, so that if you have another brainstorming session you’ll see if you already thought of the idea already.

10. Never Settle

Speaking of “Great Ideas”, don’t ever settle on an idea and be satisfied. If you settle, you won’t notice alternative approaches and you could miss a better opportunity. In fact, be dissatisfied, because it could help spot potential problems. Problems that can turn into opportunities, inspirations, and possibly coming up with more creative ideas. . The knowledge of the problem(s) could take you into another reaction.

11. Learn From Your Mistakes

When you fail you gain knowledge on why something didn’t work. This is an opportunity to try new techniques and approaches. Take this opportunity to work on new or old creative ideas you had and apply what you’ve learned from your mistakes. Use these cases to reinforce new or old ideas. These experiences can also be helpful in future project’s brainstorming sessions.

12. Be Positive

When you’re faced with a challenge or have a creative block, it gets hard to stay motivated and positive. Being pessimistic is not only bad for your health but it spreads like a deadly virus and cause low morale around the office. Other people in the team can start feeling down or depressed. Nothing is perfect in life, all projects come with some sort of flaws, you have to accept that. Instead, focus on the positive, this will counteract a natural negative bias, helping you develop more creative ideas. I know this may sound incredibly challenging but no matter how small the positive may be, just focusing on that and stripping the negative will help you develop mental power.

Remember to focus on the positive. If a project went sour for example, reflect on the challenges you faced and move forward. Give encouraging words to other people during tough times. Give yourself a pat on the back.

13. The Big Picture

Putting too much though on an idea? Too many feedback and suggestions to consider? It may be time to simply things and look at the big picture. Prioritize what you need to do to get to the end goal. As you do, you’ll start removing things that weren’t really important now, help set deadlines and break that creative block.

14. Learn To Rest, Not Quit

We’re not sure who created the original quote but these are wise words that anybody who works hard doing what they love, need to always remember. When you’re sprinting towards your goal and you feel exhausted, out of ideas, it’s time to rest, don’t just give up. Learn to rest and disconnect yourself from what you’re working on and surround yourself with experiences that feed your soul. Don’t force yourself to be creative because chances are the work that comes out of it will look forced. So rest, regroup, and take care of yourself.


We hope these tips for overcoming creative block and developing creative ideas was helpful. If you have a tip that you’d like to share please share it in the comments below.

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