What can you learn from the world’s most creative people? While some of these techniques may seem a little counterintuitive, they’re sure to inspire new ideas and get you into a creative frame of mind.

Don’t quit your day job

Don't quit your day job

Many people well-known for their creativity actually did their best work in the small amount of time they had to themselves each day. As Oliver Burkeman writes over at The Guardian, Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in the afternoons prior to a night shift at a power plant.

Famous poet T.S. Eliot worked during the day at Lloyds bank, yet managed to write some of the best known poems of the 21st century.

Take a walk

Take a walk

Technology entrepreneurs Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey all share something in common; not only are they the brains behind some of the world’s best-known tech companies, they also all shared a passion for long walks.

Artist Maira Kalman argues that taking walks allows you to absorb new ideas and find inspiration. There are some well-known historical figures who’d agree. Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo also swore by walks to generate new ideas.

Always ask questions

Always ask questions

Asking useful questions is a skill that needs to be practiced. Journalist and Contently co-founder Shane Snow says learning to ask better questions allows you to get more value out of meetings, gain deeper insights from mentors and develop better relationships.

He suggests sticking to Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions; only ask questions that allow an open answer. Snow suggests avoiding questions that limit answers to ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Start early… or late

Start early... or late

Research suggests that you’re most creative when you’re a little groggy. In one study, 428 undergraduate students were asked whether they were a morning or evening person.

Surprisingly, the night owls solved problems best in the morning, and the opposite was true for those students that identified as early birds. Mozart was an early riser, as was Frank Llyod Wright.

Create a daily routine

Create a daily routine

Set yourself up to be creative by including creative time in your routine. For inspiration, check our Nathan Barry’s blog recounting his quest to write a thousand words a day for a year. Many artists develop a creative routine, as the Daily Beast highlights: Jane Austin wrote her novels on scraps of paper in between visits in her living room, while Benjamin Franklin read for an hour each morning.

Why not try painting, drawing or writing at the same time each day? Setting up a regular ‘artist’s date’ is another good way to maintain a creative mindset.

Zach is Head of Communications for Canva, an online platform that makes graphic design simple for everyone. He writes regularly on social media, branding and public relations and has achieved coverage in publications including Mashable, TechCrunch, PandoDaily, NBC, Forbes and The Next Web.