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How I Become Creative by Spending 10 Minutes a Day to Exercise My Brain Muscle

How I Become Creative by Spending 10 Minutes a Day to Exercise My Brain Muscle

I still remember a time when I was around 6 years old, I drew a picture about me and my parents during art class. That was my first class and I could draw anything but I really wanted to draw my family and so I did. My other classmates drew something different, some drew animals, some drew ugly aliens, some drew pretty princesses. My teacher came to me and said, “Brian, you can be more creative next time.” And at that moment I thought, maybe I really wasn’t a creative person, and I thought maybe creativity was inborn.

As I grew up, this belief stuck with me until I read a book called It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Patrick O’Neill.  It convinced me that as long as I wanted to be more creative, I could train myself to be a creative person.

So I started to research more tips and tricks on creativity. There is a popular exercise in Improv Comedy called “Yes and”.[1] When one person comes up with a fairly simple idea, the other person responds by adding a smaller detail. So I took reference of this exercise and created an exercise that could stretch my creativity like workouts do for my muscles.

This exercise is perfect for anyone who lives a busy life with a full schedule. This is also great for anyone who works in an environment where tasks are fully instructed and novelty is not required. Even if you aren’t working in a creative field, training your creativity with this exercise will help you approach challenges and problems in bold and inventive ways.

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The exercise I’m going to introduce to you will only take you ten minutes a day to train up your creativity muscle.

I call this mental exercise, The Journey of A Man And A Dog.

Here’s how it goes…

First, imagine there’s a man and a dog.

Consider the relationship between them.

Where did the dog come from? How long has the man had the dog?

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What breed is the dog, and what might this breed suggest (for example a Greyhound might suggest things different than a poodle would).

Is the dog the man’s pet?  Is the man walking his dog in a park?

    After you’ve spent some time considering this, try to think about more possibilities.

    For example, maybe the man found the dog abandoned somewhere.

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    Why was the dog abandoned? How was the dog?

      Don’t be afraid to play with this idea, go in as many strange places you like. Maybe the man and dog are post-apocalyptic survivors exploring a wasteland? Maybe the dog is the more powerful and intelligent one in the relationship? All you need to do is keep adding to this.

      Try to be even more creative with fantasy elements.

      For example, maybe the man is a scientist and he’s planning to take the dog to the Mars to see if it can survive there.

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        Adding things to their relationship encourages you to think in ways different to how you would normally think. Thus developing your mental capacity to think in these new, creative ways.

        The exercise doesn’t always have to be about a man and a dog.

        If, for some reasons you find this limiting, you could consider:

        • a teacher and a student
        • a police officer and a criminal
        • a rich man and a homeless man
        • a spider and an old man
        • a man with a broomstick
        • a girl with a tattoo
        • … any possible relationship between two or more people is perfect.

        After a while you could even adapt this exercise to the real world.

        Look outside your window to the people walking past outside and try to think of the lives they lead. Try to come up with interesting or funny stories behind each person. It’s creatively stimulating and strangely fun!

        Before you know it your mind will become accustomed to thinking creatively, and you will naturally be used to flexing your creative muscle.

        Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

        Reference

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        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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        Last Updated on June 19, 2019

        10 Best Ted Talks About Procrastination That Will Ignite Your Motivation

        10 Best Ted Talks About Procrastination That Will Ignite Your Motivation

        There are two types of people in this world; one who wants to complete their work as early as possible and one who wants to delay it as much they can. The first category of this depicts ‘precrastinators’ and the latter one are termed as ‘procrastinators’.

        Much has been researched and published about procrastination; most of the studies terming it as detrimental to one’s health and adding to stress levels. Though, there are ‘procrastinating apologists’ as you would call them who proclaim there are a few benefits of it as well. But scientists have argued that the detriments of procrastination far outweigh the short-term benefits of it.

        Everybody procrastinates, but not everybody is a procrastinator. Procrastination is habitual, not situational.

        For an employee, it means piling up work until the end hours of their shift and then completing it in a hurry. For a student, it means not studying for an exam that is due the next week and cramming up the whole book one night before.

        If you fall into this category, do not worry, there have also been articles published and speeches given by successful leaders on how procrastinators aren’t so bad after all.

        Here are 10 of the best Ted Talks about procrastination that will help you regain motivation:

        1. Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator, by Tim Urban

        Tim Urban gives his funny uptake on procrastination and dives deep into how a procrastinator’s mind functions. He goes ahead and tells the audience about how ‘precrastinators’ have a rational decision-maker in their mind but in a procrastinator’s mind, there are two other entities existing — the ‘instant gratification monkey’ and ‘the panic monster’

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        From the video, you will learn how to stay aware of the ‘instant gratification monkey’ whenever you have to complete a task.

        2. The Surprising Habits Of Original Thinkers, by Adam Grant

        In this video, Adam Grant builds on the concepts of ‘instant gratification monkey’ and ‘the panic monster,’ and marks a balance between ‘precrastinators’ and procrastinators giving existence to a productive and creative persona.

        He talks about how a lot of great personalities in the course of history were procrastinators giving an example of Martin Luther King Jr. delaying the writing of his speech. ‘I have a dream’ was not in the script but was an original phrase by the leader; he opened himself to every possible avenue by not going with the script.

        You can learn about how one has to be different and better rather than be the first-mover, going deep into the correlation between original thinkers and procrastinators.

        3. An End To Procrastination, by Archana Murthy

        According to a survey,[1] 20% of Americans are chronic procrastinators. Study after study shows chronic procrastination isn’t just laziness and poor time-management, but is actually a byproduct of negative emotions such as guilt, anxiety, depression and low self-worth — which is different from the contrary belief.

        Archana Murthy gives us an insight into the procrastinator’s plight and provides ways to help the procrastinator in you.

        For a fellow procrastinator, you should check out her good advice on how to end it.

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        4. Why We Procrastinate, by Vik Nithy

        Vik Nithy has already found 23 companies before coming to give his speech on procrastination. He puts forward the structure of our brain, showing the prefrontal cortex as the intelligent one telling us to complete the assignment due next day.

        Procrastinators are threatened by complex work which gives them anxiety and that is where Amygdala comes in telling us to find pleasure in other activities.

        Going ahead, you’ll from him how to overcome procrastination i.e. planning for goals, time, resources, process, distractions, and for failure.

        5. Trust The Procrastinator, by Valerie Brown

        Frankly, this is one of the best speeches on procrastination given on the TedTalks platform. Valerie Brown tells us that we live in a society where every body wants everything right now and procrastinators aren’t in those ‘right-now’ people.

        She gives us an example of great procrastinators like Leonardo Da Vinci, who regarded himself as a failure at one point of time and took 16 years to complete the Mona Lisa. She gives us another perspective on procrastinators that it isn’t necessarily bad for one’s career or health.

        6. Procrastination Is The Key To Problem Solving, by Andrea Jackson

        Andrea Jackson gives us her two categories of procrastinators: the accidental procrastinators and the deliberate procrastinators. She puts Leonardo Da Vinci in the former category and Thomas Edison in the latter one.

        There is a part where she labels procrastinators as unlocking a supersonic jigsaw puzzle in their head when they procrastinate; it means bringing thousands of ideas in one’s head when one procrastinates and keeps thinking about it. She calls Salvador Dali and Aristotle as deliberate procrastinators where they used to delay work in order to achieve a more creative result.

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        In this video, you’ll learn a new perspective about procrastinators.

        7. The Vaccination For Procrastination, by Bronwyn Clee

        Bronwyn Clee takes us in the psychology of a procrastinator, telling us that fear stops us taking up new work.

        She shares how she taught herself to be a decision-maker and not to fear if she will be able to take an action or not. From this video, you will learn how to bring the change in yourself and end procrastination.

        8. I’m Not Lazy, I’m Procrastinating, by Victoria Gonzalez

        Coming from a millennial, this is more relatable to the younger generation.

        Victoria Gonzalez tells us that procrastination has nothing do with time-management skills. In fact, a procrastinator puts off work but with an intention to complete it; lazy people are the opposite of that who don’t even try.

        9. Change Anything! Use Skillpower Over Willpower, by AI Wizler

        Al Wizler, cofounder of VitalSmarts, gives us an example of her mother’s smoking habits which she wanted to quit but she just couldn’t even after trying for years. Eventually, she died of cancer.

        He reminds us to the need to take control of the forces that influence our decisions, rather than letting them take control of ourselves.

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        In this video, you’ll learn the importance of self-reflection, identifying your behaviours, and getting to work on it.

        10. How To Motivate Yourself To Change Your Behaviour, by Tali Sharot

        Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist explains how we behave when put through alternating situations.

        She has found that people get to work when they are rewarded for an action immediately. Procrastinators can get themselves to work and reward themselves for it, which will lead to a change in their behaviour if they actually start that process of working sooner and completing it.

        In this video, you’ll learn about the role of celebrating small wins and tracking your progress when you’re trying to reach your goals.

        The Bottom Line

        Procrastinators can find all kinds of advices on TedTalks.

        A few of them, defending the idea and proclaiming that it actually allows for a more creative process and one that people shouldn’t feel so guilty about. Some of them, giving suggestions on how to put an end to it and making you a faster worker.

        It all depends on how you want to perceive it and if you want to, you can find the cure for this ailment.

        More About Procrastination

        Featured photo credit: Han Chau via unsplash.com

        Reference

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