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6 Ways To Be Creative Absolutely All The Time

6 Ways To Be Creative Absolutely All The Time

According to Wikipedia, creativity is the “phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is created.” It therefore stands to reason that you should want to be creative all of the time. Whilst some might find it easy just “to be creative,” for others a few strategies might be needed. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote about “connecting the unconnected” to get creative inspiration in his notes, and we are going to take a leaf out of his book. For you to start becoming more creative, like Da Vinci you need to start looking at the world with fresh eyes and try some of the techniques described below to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Contemplate the mess

Da Vinci was known to throw paint filled sponges onto the wall and contemplate what he sees. Years before Jackson Pollock, Da Vinci was looking at how the paint was opening his eyes to something new. It might be these very splats that inspired early bicycles and helicopters. And whilst they weren’t practical to make at the time, they were possible to imagine.

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Fortunately we do not all need to splat paint on the walls to be creative. Instead we can make ink splats. To do this take some cartridge paper, blob some ink or paint onto one half of the page, and then fold in two. Unfold and examine. What do you see?

2. Take a shower

Whilst having a shower you are likely to have some of your best ideas. Here’s why: to be creative you need a mix of dopamine and distraction. Having a warm shower helps with the production of dopamine in the brain and whilst you are washing, you are distracted by activity. By putting your brain into neutral and doing something mundane whilst your brain is producing dopamine provides the best conditions for being creative. Take advantage of this by keeping a pad and pencil in the bathroom (or just outside). If you are interested in the science, then have a look at this blog post on the subject.

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3. Do something normal in a different way

By taking a normal activity and then doing it differently, you encourage your brain to make connections and to be creative. These neural pathways are then open to be used when you need to do some lateral thinking. So, for instance, if you are making a cheese and ham sandwich, butter the cheese and ham — not the bread. Pull the components of the sandwich together and you will still have something enjoyable to eat — AND you will have started to encourage your brain to not solely rely on one way to get things done.

This is backed up by scientific research being carried out by Psychologist Dr Simone Ritter from Radboud University Nijmegen. She told the BBC, “People should seek out unexpected experiences if they wish to think differently and so approach problems with a fresh perspective.”

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4. Get unstuck by taking a walk

If you have a particular problem to solve, the more you look at it, the stronger the obvious patterns become. This means that you are less likely to be creative stuck at your desk. Instead of getting stuck in a rut, take a break. Have a walk and take your mind off the issue. In a similar way to taking a shower, the distraction and activity will combine with your subconscious ability to solve things in a novel way.

5. Improvise

When we improvise we let our brain do the work. We don’t think too hard about things and just do it. This can be both good and bad. Things can go wrong. However, things can go right and open up a new level of creativity that you hadn’t thought possible. It’s best not to improvise too much in high stakes situations (such as job interviews). But otherwise it can be cool to riff to see what happens.

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6. Take notes

Da Vinci filled notebook after notebook with ideas, inventions, sketches, and more. Observe, doodle, contemplate — whatever you do make sure that you are taking notes. This is because the note taking process helps us to formalize ethereal thoughts. By doing this, things become a little more tangible, are more likely to be creative, and are able to reason a connection between the unconnected.

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    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

    Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

    “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

    In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

    New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

    There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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    So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

    What is the productivity paradox?

    There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

    In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

    He wrote in his conclusion:

    “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

    Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

    How do we measure productivity anyway?

    And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

    In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

    But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

    In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

    But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

    Possible causes of the productivity paradox

    Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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    • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
    • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
    • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
    • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

    There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

    According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

    Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

    The paradox and the recession

    The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

    “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

    This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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    According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

    Looking forward

    A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

    “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

    Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

    “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

    On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

    Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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