Bocce ball at Sugar Beach Toronto

Imagine it’s the weekend and you’re itching to do something, but you don’t know what.  You just want it to be different because you’re bored with the same old routine.  There are two main ingredients that will determine how creative you are: time and money.  You want time to think of something, but you want NO money.

Money can kill creativity.  Think about it.  As an adult you have money but not much time, so your default response for “What are we going to do tonight?” often includes going to the same bar or restaurant as usual.  But what if you had no money to spend?  You would actually have to come up with something.  You’d have to think.  You would have to create.

When were you most creative?  As a kid?  Your parents could give you a pail of blocks and you’d entertain yourself until the cows came home.  Lego was my favourite toy ever.  I’d go to bed imagining the stuff I could make as soon as I woke up the next day.

In high school or university you have lots of time but little money and it’s amazing the things you can come up with.  I recently saw a university student create a make-shift zamboni to flood his backyard skating rink, all with materials he could find in his closets.  Tell an adult with a paycheque to make a zamboni and he would hire someone, or just go out and rent a skating rink for the day.

I used to work in advertising where I saw the money/creativity rule often hold true.  I saw ads with huge budgets turn out terribly because people would think “Let’s film this in New Zealand” or “Let’s get Gene Simmons in this ad, we can afford it.”  One of the best ad campaigns I’ve ever seen was when the client had a budget of only $60,000 (which is nothing to create 4 TV ads).  They had to get seriously creative.

Yesterday I sat reading the Travel section of the newspaper at a new urban beach in downtown Toronto (see picture below), looking at all the ads for places to visit in the world and I thought to myself, “Why can’t I win the lottery so I can travel more?”  Then I looked up and saw these people playing bocce ball (or “boules” or “petanque” depending where you’re from) right in front of me.  In April.  On a fake beach.  They had a picnic and they were laughing hysterically the whole time and it barely cost them a cent.

So put your wallet away and start creating.  Pretend you’re a kid again.  If you’re looking for some help here is a list of stuff to do for free.

Gotta go – I’m going to try to build a house out of playing cards.