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Eight Life Hacks for Creative Thinking

November 25 2008 – 06:09pm

It can be difficult to keep thinking creatively, but in a global economy, creative thinking is becoming a critical asset to being successful. Over the years, I’ve tweaked my daily life to be able to get myself thinking creatively whenever it’s needed. Here are some of the key methods that I’ve found work for me:

  1. Move your body: Whether it’s swinging from a pull-up bar during a conference call, or hitting a few yoga poses to start off my day, I’ve discovered a strong connection between my thoughts and my body movement. Dancing, running, walking, playing sports, or just jumping around for no apparent reason are good ways to get your mind thinking differently. When was the last time you did a hand stand? Creativity Bootcamp: Move Your Body
  2. Express your thoughts: In any way you can. The most important thing is, minimize friction between your brain, and the medium of expression. If you feel like talking, just pace around and talk, even if you aren’t recording it. And, don’t be afraid to not make any sense. A tiny fraction of what I write or draw ever sees the light of day. Sometimes I’ll just sit and write a string of random words that are on my mind – the next thing I know, that exercise has me writing complete, coherent, sentences that would have never gotten out of me otherwise. When I write, sometimes it’s in a Moleskine with a compressed-felt pen, and other times it’s in one of my favorite apps, VooDoodPad. Creativity Bootcamp: Express Your Thoughts
  3. Use your senses: Whatever your core competency, explore other mediums of expression that use other senses. For your ears, take a dance class, or learn to play an instrument. For your smell and taste, take a cooking class, or just experiment in your kitchen. I like to go to a life drawing class once in awhile, and I’m still playing around with the idea of keeping a big hunk of clay on my desk. There might be room next to my LifeBeans. Creativity Bootcamp: Use Your Senses
  4. Socialize: With passionate people from all fields. Your brain will light up hearing about how other people approach challenges of their respective crafts. Also, the more you socialize, the more you understand people, and the more people will understand your work. Creativity Bootcamp: Socialize
  5. Isolate: If all you do is socialize with passionate people, you aren’t creating much, are you? To really inject your unique perspective into your work, you have to spend some time with your own thoughts. If your profession has a “scene,” try pulling yourself out of it for a bit. Ever seen “Best in Show?” If your life is starting to look like that, maybe you should stay in this weekend. Creativity Bootcamp: Laugh
  6. L.O...I have an idea!
    Laugh: You have to have fun, or your work will lose all of it’s soul. Set aside 15 minutes a day to poke around on YouTube if you have to. I like to watch The Office on hulu while I work.
  7. Invite Serendipity: Put yourself in a place where something random, yet magical can occur. The general criteria for such a situation is that it be something unfamiliar and full of random stimuli. My two favorites are strolling around the streets of any major city, or wandering around a thrift store. Twitter user stephendavis02 does something similar.
  8. Eat right: For me, this means lots of fruits and vegetables (organic when possible), a lot less meat than the average American, and whole grains (brown rice, quinoa). I also try to do a fast one day a month, and it’s amazing what it does for my mood and energy level. The most dramatic effect occurred when I cut out wheat.

So the overriding themes for me are variety, curiosity, and health. What works for you? Tell us and win a book!


Laughing photo by Jim Epler, lights photo by kevindooley.

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This post is filed under Creativity.