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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

When you let your conscious mind take a break from a task, your subconscious mind continues to process the information in the background. Sometimes, insightful ideas will flash into your mind. To encourage this, you can try this exercise.

Sit down and write a letter to yourself about the problem you are working on. Pretend that you are writing the letter to someone who knows nothing about the project; give a good description, including everything that you have done to date. Be as detailed as possible. Don't forget to mention any constraints that are imposed on the problem and what types of solutions are preferred. Then, give your subconscious a deadline. For example, you could write, "I expect a full report by the end of the week!" It may seem silly to write to yourself in this way, but give it a try. Now close up the letter and put it away.

Unbeknownst to you, your subconscious will continue to think about the problem. When the deadline approaches, open up the letter and read it. Chances are that by that point (or possibly earlier) you will have experienced a flash of insight that illuminates a potential solution.

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You'll need a small group of people for this creativity exercise. Stand or sit in a circle and have someone start a story. For example: "It was a dark and stormy night..." Go around the circle with each person adding a new sentence.. Try to go around a few times before ending the story. The crazier and more creative the story, the better!

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This little exercise will help you start thinking creatively. Pretend that you are on a team in charge of coming up with a name for a new chocolate flavored breakfast cereal. Take 5 minutes and come up with as many creative names as you can for this new cereal. How many did you get?

0-5 You need to practice.
5-10 Pretty good. Next time try for double.
11-20 Good job!
20+ You have an excellent imagination.

You can repeat this exercise as many times as you want with different products (they don't have to be all cereals). The more you practice the better you'll get.

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Many famous thinkers got their bright ideas while they were relaxing and not thinking about the problem. Archimedes got his sudden flash of genius while taking a bath and Darwin figured out evolution while driving down the road. These flashes of insight happen because the unconscious mind continues to process information in the background while you are doing other things. If your subconscious figures something out, it will seem like the idea came out of nowhere.

One way to encourage this is to periodically review your notebook to remind your subconscious mind about some of your recorded ideas. Then give your conscious mind a break from concentrating on the topic and do some novel and interesting activities. When you do this, it gives your subconsciousness a chance to freely explore the idea without the constraints that you impose upon your conscious thinking.

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Picasso once said that "good designers borrow, great designers steal." Similarly, Einstein said that "the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." There are many great ideas out there that are just waiting to be applied in new and exciting ways. Figuring out a novel way to use an idea is just as important as coming up with the idea in the first place. You should always keep a lookout for interesting ideas that you might be able to modify and apply to a new problem. Put these ideas into your notebook.

Since some people believe that all new ideas are simply elaboration on existing ideas, borrowing or stealing is unavoidable!

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