Catalyst Ranch, a unique meeting venue located in Chicago’s West Loop, is designed to enhance and support the creative process.  We are surrounded by stimulation; dazzling colors, vintage furniture, eclectic artwork, and toys work together to inspire our clients to new heights!   We’re all about innovation, so we’re always looking for fresh ways to get the creative juices flowing!

Great news!  Some of the things you may have been conditioned to think of as no-no’s, activities we’ve been told are “bad” or counterproductive, actually help you develop and maintain your creativity!  So instead of admonishing yourself for doing the following activities, keep up the good work!  Just remember: All things in moderation.  Including moderation.

1) Daydream!

YOF_048LDo you find yourself sitting at your desk staring off into space every once in a while?  Yes?  Good for you!  When you snap back into reality, you’re likely to be more capable of solving problems or completing tasks.

Several studies have told us that taking a break every 45-60 minutes will increase productivity!  We’ve explored the importance of breaks in previous blog articles.  Now brain scan studies are proving that when your mind wanders it actually triggers brain activity in the parts of your noodle that are responsible for complex problem solving

So, you may be taking care of your physical health by looking away from the computer or taking a walk during the workday, but don’t forget to take mental breaks throughout your work day!   Doing mindless activities frees the mind to wander which not only promotes creativity, but allows your brain to address multiple issues at one time.

2) Enjoy a tasty adult beverage!

whiskey at workObviously, we’re not recommending starting a mimosa club at your morning marketing meetings – that’s not what we mean by “Creative Juice.”  However, studies have shown that imbibing alcohol on occasion can benefit the creative mind! 

[Disclaimer: Experts are quick to remind us that relying on alcohol for creative ideas or any reason is likely to lead to problems in your personal and professional life.]  There are many conflicting studies on this subject; however, one recent study makes the case for having just a few drinks to stimulate your creativity.

In a study by Andrew Jarosz, a psychology graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, all of the participants were given a set of word problems that analyze creativity.  Some of the participants drank an average of three vodka-cranberries until their blood alcohol content reached .075, and the control group didn’t drink at all.  The researchers found that the group that had a few drinks performed better and faster on the test.  The intoxicated participants used their intuitive insights to solve tricky word-association problems more frequently than the participants who were sober.   Other studies have indicated that alcohol can be useful for innovation because it helps people connect seemingly unrelated ideas.

One of our favorite facilitators, Susan Newhouse of TNS, utilized beer in an activity at a recent workshop at Catalyst Ranch, so we asked her to tell us more about it and what the impact was on the attendees.

Beer is a connector and a catalyst. In a recent workshop, we were helping our client create new beer promotions for local neighborhood bars. To get people in the mood, we transformed the room into a neighborhood bar setting, complete with jukebox, billiard table, gaming table and dartboard. We even had a karaoke stage with the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” in case anyone was inspired to sing! We served up a variety of the client’s beer brands and let them casually stroll around the room with a cold brew in hand. As they visited each station, they were able to explore key insights from our research and discuss in small groups. After sitting at tables all day, it was freeing for participants to enjoy a nice, cold drink – they were much more relaxed and the conversations were considerably livelier. When they generated their action plans they stayed at the stations instead of returning to their work tables. It was a great way to end a long day of strategizing!

~Susan Newhouse, Chief Strategic Facilitation Officer, SVP of Innovation at TNS

3) Get silly and have a laugh!


Seriously, smiling and laughing boost your brain function!! A positive mood can promote creativity because it increases activity in the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex which are the parts of your noggin that are responsible for decision-making, cognition, empathy, and emotion.

Shana Lebowitz, senior writer for The Greatist, recommends people should “get silly to get creative.”  We couldn’t agree more.  Sure, you can’t be silly for an eight-hour meeting, that would be exhausting!  However, adding one of our Catalyst Ranch energizers to your meeting will help your team get in touch with their silly sides for 5-15 minutes, so everyone is sharp, refreshed, and ready to work for the remainder of the meeting!



So, take a time out.  Quit beating yourself for not being the perfect corporate drone!  Live a little and see where it takes you and your career!