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8 Proven Tricks To Be Creative

8 Proven Tricks To Be Creative
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A lot of us get stuck in creative slumps from time to time, but there are proven methods to break free. Here are eight creativity tricks that have proven to be extremely effective.

1. Take Some Breaks

In a study at Radboud University, Nijmegen, PhD student Simone Ritter directed students to come up with ideas to improve the experience of queueing at a supermarket checkout. One group of students asked to brainstorm immediately, and the other was tasked with another activity first. The ideas by the group who played a video game before they started coming up with ideas were deemed the more creative, suggesting that giving people time for their ideas to gestate plays a noticeable role the quality of those ideas

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2. Think Like A Kid

It doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that kids are in many ways more creative than adults. If you’re looking for new creativity tricks try tapping into your inner child when brainstorming. That in large part means only limiting yourself to your imagination, not concerning yourself with the plausibility of your ideas so much as the potential in them. Disney Imagineers, who design theme park attractions at Disney parks, are specifically told to not worry about budget when trying to come up with the best ride imaginable. That’s a very childlike (in a good way!) philosophy that you should consider employing in order to get more creative.

3. Give Yourself More Excuses To Laugh

Avner Ziv, an expert on the subject of humor, once divided 282 high school sophomores into four groups and gave them a creative thinking test. Those who listened to a humorous record performed significantly better on the test, demonstrating the power laughter has on creativity. Laughter offers a sense of release that can result in more unique ideas, so consider watching some sitcoms before you have to hunker down and get creative.

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4. Exercise

Since it’s common knowledge that exercise boosts creativity, you should of course consider exercise as a precursor to a task that requires a lot of creativity. A lot of writers report that their ideas really click while exercising; best selling author Stephen King swears by the importance of a daily routine of physical activity. Heed the advice of one of the most productive writers ever by ingraining exercise into your everyday life.

5. Get In Your Zone

Having a designated place to get your work done can be a huge boon to your creativity. ScienceDaily posted a great article in 2010 about how designing your own workspace can improve health, happiness and productivity. By carving out a specific spot to be creative you can not only eliminate distraction but also fill the space with things that inspire you. Are you writing a novel? Place a shelf nearby filled with your favorite books that will remind you of the kind of work you’re aspiring to create. Whatever the creative task is, there’s sure to be a memento you can have at your side to help keep you inspired.

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6. Get Yourself A Deadline

Deadlines are among the most powerful motivators. The New York Times reports that giving yourself a due date can be just what you need to start creating. If you promise to deliver something to someone on a certain date, you won’t want to let that person down. Even if the deadline is an imagined one, you won’t want to let yourself down. Mark a due date on your calendar so that you risk failure if you don’t become creative, giving you extra pressure to turn on your creativity.

7. Don’t Reject The Bad Ideas Too Quickly

Let them fester a bit so they have the opportunity to grow or transform into good ideas. Most ideas start out as implausible or ineffective, but you should look at them from a number of angles to find the kernel of brilliance nested inside an initially bad idea.

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8. Look for Combos

In the book A Technique for Producing Ideas, author and productivity expert James Webb Young describes how an idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements. A lot of us would like to think that creativity is more complicated than that, but ultimately one of the great creativity tricks is to combine old ideas in the right way to make something new.

Featured photo credit: Amanda Hirsch via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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