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5 Ways to Create Better Ideas

5 Ways to Create Better Ideas

Almost everybody want to have better ideas and lots of them. You hear all sorts of analogies when it comes to producing better ideas, “think outside the box”, “look at it from another angle”, etc. All of them have their validity but often leaves you feeling drained and stupid. Why can’t I think outside the box? What is the box? Where is the “other” angle? Are creativity and idea creation perhaps for a select few? A rare breed of creative geniuses? I say definitely not. Armed with a few new ideas you can become more creative than you ever have been before. And the good news is that it’s not very difficult and it can be fun too.

The biggest problem with not coming up with new and better ideas is that your brain is basically lazy. It will keep to the same thinking patterns as much as it can.

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“Problems cannot be solved with more of the same thinking that created them.” – Einstein

Keeping to the same thinking will produce more of the same types of ideas. The revolutionary ideas will not likely come at all. The reason your brain sticks to the same thought patterns is that you are feeding it the same kind of input all the time. More of the same input will make sure that your brain sticks to the same thought patterns. A second very important component in idea creation is volume. Not every idea you get will be brilliant, but by increasing the number of ideas you will naturally increase the number of good ideas as well. Quite simple really.

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So, now we know that to create better ideas we need to change our thought patterns and at the same time generate more ideas. Incidently this can be done by the same change. You need to change the input, without changing the input you will be stuck. It all sounds pretty easy when you know the answer and implementing it is quite easy as well.

Here are 5 ways to get new input that will have you creating more and better ideas continuously.

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  1. Choose a new way to get to work. This may seem like a small thing, but by going out of your way to find new ways to get to work you are changing your input naturally. You will see new things, think about new things and make new connections.
  2. Ask a child how they would solve a problem. Children are not stuck in their ways the same way as adults can be. To them everything is possible. Even if the solution they present is not perfect or even practical it is very likely that it will spark new ideas in your own head.
  3. Pick a random magazine to read. Computer programmers have their own favorite magazines, architects know which magazines are hot for architecture and so on. The problem with this is that everybody will be subject to the same stream of ideas. By going into a magazine store and randomly picking a magazine that might be about knitting and then actually reading it you will most likely find that the things you are thinking about have been solved already in another domain. Free ideas (except for the price of the magazine)!
  4. Force yourself to make connections. This is a little game you can play with yourself, pick random things around your house (or even better, out of a bag) and force yourself to make connections between the object and the problem or project you are working on. Keep doing it for 10-15 minutes and see what happens.
  5. Self impose limits. By imposing limits on yourself your brain will have to work overtime and really get out of its own patterns. If you work with tools, remove the tool you use most frequently and ask yourself how you can accomplish a task in this new situation. Or, why not force yourself to explain a problem without using “shop talk”.

What next?

The ideas above can of course be refined and substituted for lots of other ideas. As long as what you do forces new input on you, you will benefit. Also remember that it will be up to you to sort through and pick the best ideas. At least this way you will have more of them and they will be influenced by a larger space of knowledge and that is the key.

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What do you do to get better ideas?

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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