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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

Freelance Writer, Marketer

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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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