One of my favorite blogs to check is adgoodness. It shows different witty ads from all around the world. Some I don't really understand, some are just weird, but some of them I absolutely love. I go to this site and I am inspired to think outside of the box and to push the envelope of visual humor.
One thing I think designers do (especially me) is to play it safe. We are asked to come up with an ad for a company and we put the traditional businessman/woman picture with some phrase about being a company that is here to work for our clients or something. Lame-o! That is what everyone is doing and there is no way that that ad will ever stand out among other ads.
However, how can you start to think differently? How can you try to do something no one else is doing when all of your ideas are the same boring ideas?
Well, something I recently purchased was a small sketchbook. I know that this is something that is drilled into you in design classes, but really I never used it. I want to change that. I am hoping to carry this book around to help me write down funny phrases, ideas, paste cool ads, draw interesting things, and collect unusual items. Then when it is time to design my next poster I have a creative book to look through. Right now my sketchbook has only one page filled so I guess I will have to start doing more.
Another problem I have is that I tend to go with my first idea. In school I started this habit of not really pushing through a ton of ideas because I didn't have time. We would have like two days to complete a project and I couldn't "waste" time on brainstorming. But rarely is the first idea the best. Instead it is the idea that everyone else would have for their first idea. So to get away from the crowd try using your 10th or 20th idea. That will been when your brain is pulling out the most random stuff that no one will expect, but stuff that will be noticed.
Even if you aren't a graphic designer, these tips may help you out. In any situation creativity is key. Should you carry around a book to write ideas for new things to implement in your workplace? A place to paste pictures of how you can make the environment around you more creative? A book to write new ideas on how to teach your children? Is there a way you could benefit from more brainstorming so you don't use your first idea? I bet there is and I bet when you start thinking with more creativity the people around you will notice.