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An Underdeveloped Right Brain Is the Greatest Barrier to Creativity

An Underdeveloped Right Brain Is the Greatest Barrier to Creativity

Most of the works in the society are driven by the left-brain, which does best with linear and logical thought processes. Think about the academic settings, everything from class content to assessments of languages, maths and sciences are designed to work in a logical manner. When it comes to work, most jobs involve tasks that are procedural work and most forms of fact-checking. The performance of all these tasks executed by the left-brain are easily quantified. This has set the left-brain for better training than the right-brain.

The power of the right-brain, which rests in creativity and problem solving, is often ignored or dismissed because it is harder to understand and its performance is more difficult to be quantified.

But complex problems require the creativity of the right-brain. New solutions can’t be implemented without a logical left-brain. Before anyone could manufacture the first Model A Ford, the car had to be designed from scratch. Henry Ford needed imagination to invent the car before he could ever hope to put one together.

The Right Brain Is Not Limited by Logic

    Photo credit: Source

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    The left-brain is excellent at solving math problems or working out a science experiment using linear processes rooted in facts and empirical evidence. Some problems don’t require linear solutions, however. The right-brain, which uses intuition to solve a problem, may come up with a greater number of solutions or approaches to a situation.

    To create something entirely new, it’s important to envision things that have never been done before. The right-brain embraces the unknown unknowns best at the forefront of innovation.

    Society’s need for a safe alternative to the gaslight led Thomas Edison to invent the incandescent light bulb.[1] It’s hard to envision a world without light bulbs, but before they existed, they had to be imagined. Wilbur and Orville Wright’s obsession with becoming airborne flew in the face of scientific facts. The airplane they invented changed the course of human history, but that could not have happened if the Wright brothers’ thinking was rooted in logic.

    The Brain Works Best When Creativity Align to Logicality

    Things need to make sense, but ideas which rely solely on left-brained modes of operating tend to lack relatability. It is the right-brained person’s ability to balance logic and emotion that leads to innovation that people can rally around. Logical ideas may be based in fact, but it often takes an appeal to emotion, a right-brained talent, to make people want to invest time or energy into the idea.

    It may seem like left and right brained tendencies are polar opposites, but the brain produces the best work when it connects creativity and logicality. Imagine that you have to write a speech. You need the logical disposition of the left-brain to organize your thoughts so that your purpose is clear. You also need to be able to create an emotional connection to your listeners to bring your points to life, or else the speech will sound like an instruction manual to the audience.

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    Writers experience this same need to combine their creative and logical forces. No, writers don’t read minds, but they must possess the logical ability to string words together and the emotional capacity to forge a connection to another person’s mind where one does not exist.

    Train the Right-Brain Without a Hitch

      Photo credit: Source

      In school, we train left-brain qualities through repeated math drills, scientific experiments, and language studies. The right-brain is often relegated to elective courses such as art, home economics, or the wood shop. The dominant pattern in society suggests that tasks which involve are creativity are just extras that we tack onto the day after reading, writing, and arithmetic.

      But just because the world is left-brain dominant doesn’t mean that our right-brain tendencies should decline from lack of use. There are ways that you can use your right-brain every day — using your imagination.

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      1. Flip your perspective.

      One way that you can do this is through imagining the world from another person’s perspective.

      Video game aficionados do this with certain types of role-playing games, but you can also accomplish this by putting yourself into a hypothetical scenario. You might say, “If I were Steven Spielberg, I would ____,” or “If I were Tesla, I would____.”

      2. Do a 10-minute creativity exercise every day.

      Creativity exercises are another great way to stretch your imagination. The 10-minute exercise, The Journey of a Man and a Dog, is an example of how you can use creativity to expound on relationships we might see in our everyday lives.

      You essentially create a story about any two people, animals or objects that you see together, whether it’s a man and his dog or a rich person and a homeless person.

      3. Take up a creative hobby.

      If thinking your way into increased creativity isn’t your speed, take up hobbies to improve your right-brain processing. Drawing, painting, woodworking, making crafts, playing music, dancing, and folding origami are a few examples of right-brain dominant activities.

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      You don’t have to be incredibly talented at a hobby to benefit from it. Performing these tasks keeps your right-brain active. The value is in the journey, and not in the destination.

      The Right-Brain Deserves as Much Attention as the Left-Brain

      Society places an emphasis on left-brained activities associated with knowledge and information, but right-brained pursuits remain on the periphery. Think about how much time you’ve spent training your left-brain since you were a child. Unless you also dedicated many hours of your day to creativity from a young age, there’s a chance that your right-brain competencies have not had the attention they need to reach their full potential.

      Just like we never stop performing left-brain dominant tasks in our day to day lives, right-brain training is a continuous practice. The more you practice, the more you will improve.

      Featured photo credit: Ad of the World via adsoftheworld.com

      Reference

      [1] History: Thomas Edison

      More by this author

      Brian Lee

      Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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      Published on January 16, 2019

      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

      We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

      You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

      You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

      That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

      Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

      1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

      Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

      We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

      To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

      At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

      The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

      2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

      Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

      The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

      In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

      It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

      It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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      So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

      • Are you a great strategist?
      • Are you an effective planner?
      • Is Project Management your strength?
      • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
      • Are you the ideas person?
      • Is Implementation your strength?

      Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

      3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

      One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

      Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

      Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

      Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

      4. Take Time for Planning

      “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

      One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

      You can take the time to think about:

      • What’s the purpose of the project?
      • How Important is it?
      • When does it need to be delivered by?
      • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
      • What are the KPIs?
      • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
      • Who is working on this project?
      • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
      • What tolerances can I add in?
      • What are the review stages?
      • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

      Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

      5. Focus on Priorities

      Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

      Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

      One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

      1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
      2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
      3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
      4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

      James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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        The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

        If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

        If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

        6. Take Time Out

        To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

        If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

        Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

        In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

        Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

        7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

        Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

        I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

        Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

        If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

        8. Stop Multitasking

        Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

        So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

        When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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        If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

        9. Work in Blocks of Time

        To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

        I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

        Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

        Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

        Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

        Then take another 10-minute break.

        Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

        By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

        10. Get Rid of Distractions

        Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

        “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

        Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

        If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

        11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

        You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

        Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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        Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

        12. Take a Time Audit

        Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

        Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

        You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

        Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

        Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

        At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

        If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

        13. Protect Your Confidence

        It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

        When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

        Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

        When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

        Final Words

        A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

        The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

        If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

        Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

        Reference

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