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4 ways to train your creative thinking

how to train your creative thinking

People tend to think the most creative individuals are simply born with an ingenuity gene. While that may be true for Mozart, in reality most creative ideas are a combination of new idea, serendipity and a lot of hard work.

American advertising executive James Webb Young wrote a book called ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas’. In it he observed: “An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.”

Creativity isn’t just necessary in the obvious jobs such as advertising or the arts. You can exhibit fresh thinking in any field, whether it’s a new way to tackle an accounting problem, or how to improve customer service with limited resources.

Be organized

Like any endeavour, creativity requires preparation. The American ad icon also said: “The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.” Yet, it’s hard to connect the dots if your research, files and thoughts are all over the place.

If you have worked hard to assemble all the facts around a problem or issue, don’t let that effort go to waste. Organize your notes, then step back and let your brain process the information.

Be open…

…To new ideas, concepts and experiences. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You can’t hope to come up with that killer idea without being exposed to varied viewpoints or the latest thinking on a topic.

Read magazines and books you wouldn’t normally, go to those events you typically avoid, or make time to speak to people you greet only briefly. Then be prepared to challenge and interrogate the idea you come up with. It’s important to stress-test it before unleashing it on the world.

Sleep

The book ‘Why We Sleep’ by neuroscientist Matthew Walker argues sleep is the secret ingredient to being happier, slimmer and healthier – so why not more creative, too?

Sleep is evolution’s way of helping our brains rest and recuperate. It also gets us ready to come up with new ideas. Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night is also crucial to being on your A-game. It helps you to be productive execute your creative mission.

Create a creative space

Every person has a different location or time when they think best. For some that could be listening to your favourite band in the shower, for others that could be trying the latest exercise fad (or doing some deskercise moves), or simply being in a quiet part of the office.

Whatever works for you, make sure to set aside time to be in your creative space and tell others what you are doing – so they give you the time you need. Don’t worry if the creative juices aren’t flowing on one particular day. Jot down any initial thoughts and come back to them fresh another day.

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