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How To Get Your Inborn Creativity Back

How To Get Your Inborn Creativity Back

Many people want to be more creative. But most of them also doubt if creativity is a gifted talent that cannot be learned. To find the truth, scientists did some experiments which results were astonishing and at the same time encouraging.

Creativity is indeed an inborn talent, and everyone has it

In 1968, George Land tested 1,600 children’s performance in a creativity test that was originally designed for NASA to recruit innovative scientists. The children were tested at different ages.

Test results

5 year olds who passed the test: 98%
10 year olds who passed the test: 30%
15 year olds who passed the test: 12%

Interestingly, there’s an obvious down trend: the older we are, the less creative we become.

Creativity is not a random gift that only belongs to the lucky minority; we all are gifted with creativity when we were born.

What happens, though, is that during our course of life, we start to “unlearn” our creativity.

Education is the murderer of creativity

Once we enter schools, our brains are stuffed with numbers and vocabulary. All these do not encourage creativity but conformity. Under the current education system, children learn to fulfil teachers’ expectations, pass the exams, and suppress their creative ideas.

Remember, the education system is so because it was designed 200 years ago in the Industrial Revolution to train people to be obedient. It may work well for factory workers, but not for us living in this dynamic world.

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So then, the question is: how get our inborn creativity back?

Creativity, as defined by Richard N. Foster, a lecturer in Yale, is “the ability to find associations between different fields of knowledge, especially ones that appear radically different at first” [1].

Years ago, phone, camera and computer are just three completely unrelated gadgets. But Steve Jobs thought they could be related and decided to combine them into a single device.

Creativity is really about making unexpected linkages.

And to train ourselves to make such linkages, there are exercises we can do on a daily basis.

The Two-word exercise 

In an experiment, neuroscientist Paul Howard Jones asked the subjects to create a story by combing relevant ideas, such as “brush”, “teeth”, and “shine”, and then create another story by combining irrelevant ideas, such as “cow”, “zip”, and “star”. Surprisingly, the stories created with irrelevant words are far more creative than the relevant ones [2].

To apply the study result of Jones’s experiment, we suggest you to start with two words first, instead of three.

Demonstration

Two words given:

  • Man      
  • Cat

First you can think about their relationship, and then think about the environment. Where are they? Are they in the same place or not?

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When you are creating the scenario, try to add more details. This would further boost your creativity.

Our example is:

“After his wife passed away, the cat became his only companion. Every night, when he feeds the cat, he would recall the time he spent with his lovely wife.”

You may find it hard at first. But don’t worry! You can begin with the following guiding questions:

  • What do they look like?
  • What is their interaction?
  • Any emotions triggered?
  • When they first meet each other, what do they say to each other?
  • In what places do they meet?
  • What is the smell, the sound, the temperature of the place?

Once you can create a scenario, you can challenge yourself to create more, let’s say four. We suggest five more examples as follows.

Remember don’t be afraid that your story is too crazy. Just catch whatever jumps up at your head.

When you finish, you can scroll down.

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Possible ideas:

  1. A high-school student has been bullied by his classmates. Every day when he sees the lonely cat around the corner when walking back home, he feels that he can understand her feelings very well.
  2. On one hot day, at lunch time a construction worker sat on the roof of the house he was working on. The person who hired him was a tycoon. The pet cat in this family looked snobby. She ate lavishly and even had her own big room. The construction worker looked at the cat, and wondered why even a cat led a better life than him.
  3. The cat had been spoiled so much by his master since she was brought from the pet store. However, one night an attractive woman came. And the cat felt that she could no longer get his master’s attention anymore.
  4. It rained heavily, and the stream was flooding heavily. A cat carelessly fell into the stream. A man while rushing back to collect the laundry saw the cat. He stopped, and hesitated whether he should jump into the stream to save the cat or not.

Now, since you have already successfully created four scenarios, you should aim higher!

We suggest you create ten scenarios out of two irrelevant ideas every day.

You may take 15 minutes every day, sit in a quiet room, and contemplate over the two ideas.

The time limit here is important, as you can only boost your creativity effectively, if you force yourself under time pressure.

If you need help in generating irrelevant words, you may go to the following word generator: Random Word Generator.

Reference

[1]Yale Insight: What Is Creativity?
[2]The Huffington Post: 25 Ways To Be More Creative: Inc.

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Chris Cheung

Editorial Intern, Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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