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8 Proven Tricks To Be Creative

8 Proven Tricks To Be Creative

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 November 18, 2019

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creativity tasks or problem solving tasks.

Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is able to stay creative and work towards our goals consistently.

How do we manage that?

I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize:

The Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

How to Prioritize with the Scales Method

    One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

    At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

    After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

    • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
    • She could publish all her articles on time
    • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

    Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

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    1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

    When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

    My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

    Use this time to:

    • Look at the big picture.
    • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
    • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

    2. Align Your Tasks with Your Goal

    This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

    It works like this:

    Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

    By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

      To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

      Low Cost + High Benefit

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      Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

      Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

      High Cost + High Benefit

      Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

      Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

      Low Cost + Low Benefit

      This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

      These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

      High Cost + Low Benefit

      Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

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      For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

      Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

        After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

          And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

          Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks with Deadlines

          Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

          What to do in these cases?

          Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

          For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

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          Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

            Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

            The Scales Method Is Different from Anything Else You’ve Tried

            By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

            And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

            Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

            Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

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            Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

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