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8 Proven Tricks To Be Creative

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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 October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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