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Why Some People Are More Creative Than Others

Why Some People Are More Creative Than Others

Would you label yourself a creative person? Do you think creativity is something we are born with? Creativity is more than the simple left versus right brain. It is more than your logical hemisphere compared to your creative hemisphere. Creativity and learning takes place when we are able to connect new knowledge with knowledge we were already familiar with. Creativity is something we can all develop. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that creativity can be cultivated.

Prior to the last couple of years, I used to think creativity was something you were born with. I believed one of the myths of creativity and used it as an excuse. Do you associate with any of these common myths about creativity? Common myths:[1]

  • You are born with it.
  • You have to be right-brained.
  • It falls into your lap.
  • You’ve got to be a little mad.

Everyone has fell victim to at least one of these myths, but anyone can be creative, not just the privileged few. Let’s take a look at how some people embrace this mindset and become more creative than the rest.

They are good at making connections between different ideas.

“Part of creativity is picking the little bubbles that come up to your conscious mind, and picking which one to let grow and which one to give access to more of your mind.” – Nancy Andreasen

Yevgeniy Brikman has an interesting analogy for creativity. He looks at creative thinking as a deck of index cards. He remarks,

“Imagine you have a deck of index cards and that each card has a word or phrase on it. These cards represent the ideas and thoughts that are floating in your head.”[2]

Try the following with index cards, where each card has a word or phrase on it:

  1. Shuffle the index cards.
  2. Drop them on the floor.
  3. Scan over the cards and see what sentences have formed from the random arrangement of words.

Brikman asserts, “Most of the time, the random permutations will be meaningless. You just have to pick up the cards and return to step 1. However, every now and then, a meaningful sentence or thought will emerge. Sometimes this will be a full solution to a problem – the ‘aha’ moment. Other times, this will be a mere stepping stone from which you gather enough info to add or remove index cards from your deck before returning to step 1.”

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They are divergent thinkers.

“We are boxed in by the boundary conditions of our thinking” – Albert Einstein

    Creative thinkers are not linear thinkers. In fact, they are divergent or lateral thinkers. They embrace a different way of thinking and attack problems from new angles. Creative people can literally remove their mind from the box. Typically, most people think that you must remain within the already known boundaries. However, when we move out of the box, we then extend our boundaries beyond the existing framework. This is critically important in cultivating creativity.

    They act on the eureka moment.

    “Seeing something that doesn’t exist and then making it so.” – Hugh Howey

    Have you ever had that unbelievable epiphany or insight that just suddenly occurs in your mind? This is the eureka effect, our experience of suddenly comprehending something that was previously incomprehensible. The effect is named after a story about the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. However, we will use a different example of this effect. Sidney Harris has a simple cartoon that visualizes this effect perfectly. In her cartoon, she draws an illustration of Albert Einstein standing before a chalkboard. On the board, Einstein has two different equations crossed out. The title of the cartoon is the “The Creative Moment” and is a fabulous caricature of one of the most important discoveries in history.

    Creative thinkers endlessly search for their creative moment. So, the next time you have a eureka moment, use the following tips to act on it.

    There are four stages of the creative process.

    Let’s now discuss how you can activate your creative mind by following these four stages.[3]

    1. Preparation. So, did you think this would start with an idea? Well, you would be wrong. Here we are gathering facts and existing ideas about our problem. In the first stage, start asking questions in order to start generating ideas.
    2. Incubation. This stage is important. Go for a jog or take a bath (Thank Archimedes for this idea!), but make sure you allow the problem to wander in your mind.
    3. Sudden Insight. Here is your eureka moment! This is where your connections overflow until that fantastic ‘aha’ moment hits.
    4. Manifestation. In this stage you carry out and apply the sudden insight.

    We can cultivate creativity in numerous ways.

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      “Ask questions for which there are no answers.”

      There are certain things we can all do in order to become more creative. Let’s look at some of them.

      • Ask questions. “Successful creators don’t just like knowledge, they thirst for it. They can’t stop asking question, and they always go beyond what they’ve learned from teachers and books.” – Keith Sawyer
      • Practice. When we practice a skill over and over again it will start to become a habit. Write about how to develop a creative mindset, blog about it, and even try to teach other people about it.
      • Use an analogy. When we use analogies, we find similarity between two things. Think of the index card example earlier.
      • Random word. If you have a problem and you need a completely outside-the-box approach to solving it… try this. Go to randomwordgenerator.com and generate a random word. Here the random word serves as a stimulus which will then serve as a bridge between the stimulus and the idea which will help you solve the problem.[4]
      • Leave your comfort zone. “But the essence of creativity is to be surprised, to come up with something you really didn’t know. That’s the nova in innovation. It’s the newness. And if you keep doing the same old thing, you won’t do the new thing. But when you suspend the old thing, the new thing doesn’t always automatically emerge.” – Michael Gelb
      • Read poetry. Metacognition is when we think about what we are thinking about. This revelation recently hit me. The most powerful deep thinking approach is poetry.
      • Mind mapping. This is a great way to take a topic down a rabbit hole. This is where you have your main idea in the center. The main idea branches out to second and third-level branches. This will help you see patterns that others fail to see.

      So, are you now motivated to become a creative thinker? Do you believe you can? Well, you should. On your journey to become a more creative thinker, remember the four stages and don’t forget that you have to let your thoughts incubate for a while. Don’t try to force the ‘aha’ moment. Allow yourself the time to let your mind wander. Once you do this, you will find that you are able to create something out of nothing.

      Reference

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      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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      Published on August 3, 2020

      How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

      How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

      With all the inputs, information, and clutter that come into our lives today, just staying on top of it all creates so much stress and frustration, and it can often lead to feelings of helplessness and anxiety. Most of the time, you simply don’t know where to start when you want to learn how to be organized.

      However, it is, in fact, something that can be learned.

      By developing a few strategies and methods, and having a system in place that quickly deals with all these inputs, you can finally get control of your clutter and, more importantly, stay clutter-free.

      Here are a few rules that can help you on your path to a clutter-free life.

      1. Don’t Use Your Computer’s Desktop for Storage

      Your computer’s desktop was not designed to store your files. Your desktop should be clean and file free. Not only does a cluttered desktop slow down your computer, but it also makes finding things painfully slow.

      Instead, as you’re learning how to be organized, create a basic folder structure inside your documents folder. Now, this needs to work for you, but try not to make things too complicated. What you can do is think about the kind of files you will need to keep, and categorize them between your personal and professional ones. For me, I have two basics folders inside my documents folder, one called “work” and one called “personal.” Inside of these, I have subfolders organized according to my different roles or categories.

      It’s simple, and it allows me to quickly find what I need when I need it.

      Now, I do understand that during the day, when you are doing your work, you may need quick access to certain images and files, and it’s okay to hold them on your desktop temporarily. However, make it a habit to clear your desktop at the end of each day as part of your closing down routine (more on that later).

      2. Learn to Use Your Computer’s Search Features

      It surprises me how few people know how to find documents on their computer with a simple keyboard shortcut, but it’s one of the easiest things to do as you’re learning how to be organized. On a Mac, for instance, CMD + Space bar brings up the spotlight search, and you can type in a date, a file type, a keyword, or a file name.

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      On a Windows computer[1], open the start button, and begin typing the file you are looking for.

      In both cases, you do not need the exact name of the file. Just type a few letters, and within seconds you have the file you need.

      When you learn how useful your computer’s search features are, you will be much more comfortable removing all those files scattered around on your desktop and putting them in an appropriate folder on your computer.

      3. Keep Your Desk Clear of Clutter

      Just as with your computer’s desktop, your desk’s desktop should also be file and clutter-free. Use your drawers for those paper documents that habitually hang around on your desk—a cluttered desk does not encourage inspired work[2].

      Also, take a look at your workspace, and ask if what is on your desk is necessary. Often, we have stuff on our desks that serve no meaning and has no sentimental value to us. It’s just something we have always had on our desk. If you don’t need it or it does not inspire you, remove it.

      And while we are talking about your desk, make a decision this week that you will go through your desk drawers and clear out all the old pens, cups, and other debris that has accumulated over the years. Trust me on this one, the act of cleaning out your drawers and removing all the clutter on your desk will give you renewed energy and ignite a lot of creativity that has been pushed into the background. You will love working at your desk again.

      Pictures of your loved ones and a few inspiring mementos are fine. Just don’t go crazy with them. Keep them to a minimum.

      4. Create a Closing Down Routine

      This is such a great way to make sure you keep your files and other stuff organized, so make it an essential skill to adopt when learning how to be organized. Give yourself ten to twenty minutes before you finish your work for the day to clean up your desktops.

      Move your files to their rightful place, and delete anything you no longer need. I often accumulate a lot of screenshots throughout the day, and if I am not removing them, at the end of the day, they soon start building up.

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      Before I shut my computer down for the day, I clean these up, delete the screenshots if I no longer need them, and leave my desktop file free. It’s a beautiful way to start the next day with a clean desk and a clean computer desktop.

      5. Incorporate a To-Do List Manager Into Your Life

      Writing your to-dos and commitments down on post-it notes just encourages clutter. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to stick these to your computer so you don’t forget things, but over time you become numb to them. They just become a part of your desk, and you ignore them.

      Remove them. Take your tasks and commitments, and put them into a to-do list manager. Whether you use Windows or Mac, they both come with to-do list managers. Make good use of them.

      You do not need to create an elaborate to-do list structure. All you need is an inbox for quick entry and the ability to date tasks for when they need doing.

      I use a simple structure in my to-do list manager. I use a system I call the Time Sector System[3] where I create six folders:

      • Inbox
      • This week
      • Next week
      • This month
      • Next month
      • Long-term / On-hold

      Then, whatever I collect, the only decision I need to make is: when am I going to do the task? I can then drop the task into its relevant folder.

      One of the biggest causes of clutter on desks (and in bags) are all those little bits of paper you use to write down critical information and telephone numbers or email addresses. When these accumulate, they are easy to lose, and you waste a lot of time searching for them.

      Use your digital devices for these. You can take a photo of a written note. You can quickly add a telephone number or an email address into your to-do list manager (or notes app), and if you have syncing set up between your devices, you will have access to the information on all your devices. And what’s more, it will be searchable.

      6. Set a Weekly Time to Declutter Your Devices

      This is an area that can quickly creep up on you, so take time to develop this habit as you’re learning how to be organized. Taking photos and videos on our phones is too easy these days. We take a picture, and we just leave it in our photo album.

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      Over time we end up with thousands of photos in our electronic photo albums that are not worth keeping. I spend around ten minutes on the weekend (usually Sunday evening) deleting all the images I no longer want to keep. It keeps my digital storage needs down—which saves money—and it means all the photos in my photo album are photos I want to keep.

      I do the same with my downloads folder. We often download a PDF intending to read it later, and then we completely forget about it. As time passes, we end up with hundreds of PDFs and other documents we are no longer interested in or no longer need. Delete them or file them. Just don’t leave them in your downloads folder.

      If you want to stay clutter-free, this habit will reward you. Doing this weekly means you will spend around thirty minutes each week cleaning up and filing. Not doing so means you will end up having to spend a day or two just dealing everything, which will leave you feeling like you’ve wasted those days.

      7. Do an Annual Clean-up

      One of my annual rituals is to clean out all my folders and notes. I take a day off from work and spend the day going through everything on my computer and delete anything that no longer has any value.

      I choose the winter holidays for this. Not only is it the end of the year, but many companies are on holiday, and things are generally quieter.

      I go through all my work and personal folders and clean out anything I no longer need. I also archive a lot of files onto an external hard drive—just in case they are needed later.

      It’s also a good time to clear out your email folders, too. Email can become a bottomless pit of emails you no longer need. Go through and purge those. You will feel so much better when you do this.

      With email, you can also declare yourself email bankrupt and just delete everything in your inbox (or if you are not comfortable doing that, declare a ‘soft’ email bankruptcy and you move all your emails into a folder called “Old Inbox”).

      Doing this might seem like a radical step, but it is incredible how much clearer you become. You get to see what you have been holding on to, what you may have missed, and you find yourself with a lot more space ready for the year to come.

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      8. Do a Little, Often

      I learned this a long time ago. Many years ago, I tried becoming a salesperson. I failed miserably at it, but during my training, I shadowed an experienced colleague. On one of the days I was shadowing her, she had to complete and file her expense report for the month.

      I vividly remember her opening the glovebox of her car and pulling out handfuls of receipts and then painstakingly adding them to an expense report—we did things on paper in those days. Four hours later, she finally finished the report.

      I remember at the time thinking this was not a great way to do this. When I got my chance to go solo, I began stopping my car in a car-park on the way home and added that day’s expenses to my expenses sheet. It took me a few minutes, and as I was doing it on the same day, I remembered exactly what each receipt was for.

      When you’re learning how to be organized, you can use this principle for almost everything. Clear out your email inbox every day, delete screenshots from your desktop and empty your bag at the end of the week, and throw away anything you no longer need.

      Doing a little often makes things so much easier, and you do not have that mental backlog creeping up on you where you have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind telling you you have to do something—only you can’t remember what that something is.

      Final Thoughts

      If it doesn’t come naturally to you, learning how to be organized can take time and effort, but it’s ultimately worth it. Becoming clutter-free helps you in so many ways. You have a more pleasant work environment, and de-cluttering your environment also helps to declutter your mind. On top of that, finding stuff is easier, and that means your overall productivity goes through the roof. Choose the strategies above that will help you in your daily life and start getting your life organized today.

      More Tips on How to Be Organized

      Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via unsplash.com

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