The first two ideas are taken from ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron.
This book is a 12 week course that encourages creativity. It sounds off the wall, however she claims it is possible to teach creativity. And I have to agree: all the exercises are sound. And good fun. Not too convoluted and easy to do.
The basis of the whole system however are two exercises: the morning pages and the Artist’s Date (next paragraph).
Morning pages means: write three A4 pages, in the morning, by hand. About what you might ask. Whatever comes into your head. This is more a cleansing exercise, simply keep writing. If you write: I don’t want to do the morning pages, I don’t want to do the morning pages, I don’t want to do the morning pages; then that’s ok. You could use it for anything, like your daily planning, your ideas for your theses, anything. However you don’t have do it. Directionless is key here.
It is not important what you write, it is only important that you write. Get up half an hour earlier and do those pages.
It may seem like an effort (and believe I am one of them who finds getting up in the morning is not easy), however the rewards are great.
My own experience is this: I find that I have more energy all day long; I have more ideas; yes, I am more creative. Whenever I have a bigger project I could not do without them. I cannot explain it properly, however something good, something creative is happening in my head, and I am lot more productive.
Enough said: You have to try it yourself to see the effects.