Try these tips to maximize your creativity at work. From Scientific American Mind-July/August 2012
1. Become an expert: a solid knowledge base will allow you to connect remote ideas and see their relevance to a problem.
2. Observe: when trying to come up with a new product or service, carefully study how people use what is currently available and what problems they face.
3. Know your audience: walk in the shoes of the intended costumer. How would a child use a remote control? How would an elderly person access a voting booth?
4. Step out of your comfort zone: seek activities outside your field of expertise. Take a class; read a book; travel to a foreign country. New experiences often bring forth novel thoughts.
5. Be willing to work alone: group brainstorming can help you synthesize your ideas, but it is far more effective if you have started the creative process on your own.
6. Talk to outsiders about your work: a novel perspective can help you see alternative solutions or possible faults with your original idea.
7. Have fun: a good mood can forge remote associations. Upbeat music may help but also makes tasks that demand focus more difficult. If you need to concentrate, dampen you demeanor with sad songs.
8. Take a nap or let your mind wander: sleep and daydreaming can enlists your unconscious mind to work on a problem that is stumping you.
9. Take a break: occupying your mind with a different task can unleash novel solutions.
10. Challenge yourself: disrupt your daily routine. Abandon your initial idea (even if it works) and look for a new one. Borrow from other people’s answers and try to improve on them.