A woman stands next to a screen-printing machine, where a light gray T-shirt has been printed with the word "FREEDOM" three times in rainbow letters. The woman stands with her hands behind her back and smiles. She has long light blonde hair and she wears a paint-splattered apron over a dark green T-shirt.
You can spark creativity by leaving your comfort zone, both in your work routine and in your interactions with others. — Getty Images/zamrznutitonovi

Entrepreneurs are often told to “think outside the box” to find creative solutions to common business problems. That’s often easier said than done; creative ruts can make it challenging to get yourself into the right mindset to find your next great idea. Whether you’re looking for your next business idea, coming up with a new marketing campaign, or trying to solve an operational challenge, consider these methods for sparking entrepreneurial creativity.

Get out of your comfort zone — literally

Falling into a routine can make seeing things in a new light difficult. Scientific studies have shown that becoming comfortable in a routine leads to more ordered thinking and less creativity. We’re less likely to challenge the status quo when we live in the same pattern. “Ultimately, we are inclined to think about things as they currently are, rather than things as they could be,” wrote Psychology Today.

Breaking out of your routine in small ways can help your brain reset. Simply seeing the world differently can start to activate your creative side. “Creativity calls us to see old things in new ways. Coax yourself out of your comfort zone—creativity’s nemesis,” wrote Forbes. “Take a different route to work. Eat lunch with someone new. Read a magazine you would never buy. Travel. Wander. Get lost.”

Get inspiration from the experts

There are 40 video playlists on TED.com related to creativity. Listen to experts like Elizabeth Gilbert and David Kelley talk about their strategies for thinking creatively. Or, try listening to a talk about a completely unrelated topic, such as sustainability or behavioral economics. Tuning into what experts worldwide are talking about can open your mind to completely new ways of thinking through problems. The more diverse ideas and viewpoints you can access, the more equipped you’ll be to “think outside the box.”

Try design thinking

For some entrepreneurs, a more structured approach can help spark creativity and organize your efforts. Design thinking is an approach to problem-solving that emphasizes understanding the human need.

Coax yourself out of your comfort zone—creativity’s nemesis.

Cheryl Conner, Forbes

“By employing design thinking, we pull together what’s desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable,” wrote Ideo. “It also allows those who aren't trained as designers to use creative techniques, methods, and mindsets to address a vast range of challenges.”

The design thinking approach provides a structure that embraces simple mindset shifts and strategies for attacking problems from a new direction. If you like to think creatively and methodically, this could be a good option.

[Read more: 5 Habits That Will Make Entrepreneurs More Creative and Innovative]

Keep a notebook

David Sedaris, Joan Didion, and Leonardo DaVinci are just a few famously creative people who regularly wrote in journals. Though it can seem like a chore, getting into the habit of carrying a notebook with you to jot ideas down can have two benefits.

“Writing down all your thoughts and ideas can help you preserve them for further rumination and iterative work,” wrote Entrepreneur. “Additionally, keeping a notebook frees up mental space and energy for other tasks.”

Write down ideas, observations, and questions as they occur to you. That way, you can revisit them later when you have more time for deeper, creative thinking. You will also be able to free up your attention for more pressing matters that crop up throughout the day.

Talk to people with different backgrounds

There’s a clear, well-established link between diversity and innovation. For instance, more diverse companies have 19% higher innovation revenues. Innovation thrives when groups of people from different backgrounds and points of view come together to solve problems. Spark your own entrepreneurial creativity by seeking out new thought partners.

“Consider inviting someone from accounting or the mailroom to weigh in on a creative decision as opposed to speaking only to product marketing or to the design engineers,” wrote Forbes.

[Read more: How to Keep Your Remote Business Fresh and Creative]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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