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Spark Your Creativity With These 5 Scientifically Proven Methods

Spark Your Creativity With These 5 Scientifically Proven Methods

We all have a creative force looming somewhere inside us, but sometimes bringing it out can be difficult. Certainly, when you’re stuck in a creative rut it can be tough to know where to turn. Not to fear, I’m here today with some stellar methods for sparking creativity backed by science. The next time you find yourself creatively stuck, take heart in these five scientifically proven methods to spark your creativity. They might sound simple, but they are powerful and when used can have big impacts on your ability to think creatively.

1. Run Free Like a Child

Children are incredibly creative thinkers. Full of imagination and without the self imposed limitations we place on ourselves as adults, kids are innately creative. They are free to play, dream, imagine and create without restriction. The next time you’re feeling like you need a burst of creativity try playing like a child. Backed by science, a recent study found that when participants were asked to imagine themselves as seven year olds they performed significantly better on divergent thinking tests. Let your imagination free and play like a child to spark your creativity.

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2. Don’t Box Yourself In

As adults we often box ourselves in simply by the language we use to describe the problems we are trying to solve. It might sound simple but an incredibly effective way to increase your problem solving ability is to simply change the verbs you use to describe the problem. Change it from a specific verb, e.g. ‘driving’, to a more generic verb, e.g. ‘moving’, to open your mind to the possibilities and see a dramatic increase in the number of problems you’re able to solve.

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3. Pay Attention to Colour

Colour can have a huge impact on your mood and your ability to be creative. Studies have consistently shown colour to influence mood and behaviour with a 2009 study showing that subjects solved twice as many insight puzzles when in the presence of the colour blue. Blue is known to lead to more relaxed and associative thinking, giving rise to creativity. Next time you’re looking for a quick burst of creativity embrace the power of blue. Whether it means creating in a blue room or simply walking outside and staring up at the sky with a notebook in hand, this quick change to your environment can make a big difference.

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4. Explore the World Around You

The world around you is full of creative potential. In fact, a recent study lead by researcher Adam Galinsky showed that students who had lived overseas were significantly more likely to solve a classic insight puzzle. Their experience of living within a completely different culture to their native one awarded them with prized open-mindedness. The same effect has also been noted with professionals. Fashion-house directors who have lived in a variety of different countries produce clothing that is consistently rated as more creative by industry peers. Get outside your own backyard to explore the world around you and you’ll see your creativity soar.

5. Make Time to Daydream

In our busy lives making the time to daydream can feel like a bit of a luxury, but research has shown it is absolutely essential to sparking creativity. A recent research study led by Jonathan Schooler at the University of California, Santa Barbara USA, found that people who daydream more often are more creative thinkers. Participants within the study who reported higher levels of daydreaming consistently scored higher on a variety of scientific tests of creativity. Make time in your busy life to let your mind free to daydream and spark your creativity today.

Featured photo credit: Paul Inkles via Flickr CC via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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