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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!

Many creative people like inventing or improving upon things, but it is often hard to discover what needs to be invented or improved. Here are three common ways that you can discover these unmet needs.

1. Interview or observe your target consumer. For example, you might talk to a bunch of teachers to see if they have any problems that you could solve.
2. Imagine yourself in their shoes. For example, you might pretend that you are a teacher and see if you can find any unmet needs.
3. Use yourself as the consumer and keep track of your own personal unmet needs.

Whichever method you use, a great way to discover unmet needs is to keep a bug list. Any time that you notice something that takes too much time, is complicated, or seems inconvenient to your consumer, write it down on your list. You can then refer to your bug list later to see if it sparks any ideas for inventions or improvements.

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For each of the following statements, come up with at least two plausible reasons why they are true. Now, come up with at least two plausible reasons why they are false. This exercise will help you to see that many issues have different sides to them.

1. Putting money under your mattress is a good investment.
2. Small dogs have more energy than big dogs.
3. Hot weather makes people tired.

You can repeat this exercise by using any subjective statement that you can find.

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Asking questions is an important ability for a creative person to have. As children, we probably asked our parents a bunch of questions. As we grow older, we tend to ask fewer and fewer questions. This is because once we reach a certain age, the questions become difficult enough that a parent or teacher may not have the patience or knowledge to answer them and this discourages us from asking further questions. The other reason why adults do not ask questions is because it is an admission of ignorance and people do not like appearing ignorant. As a result people frequently will nod their heads and agree to things that they do not understand.

A creative thinker overcomes these obstacles and asks questions. In reality, asking questions doesn't make you appear stupid; it shows your inquisitive nature and often reveals how much more you know about something than the person you are asking. Not to mention that the question you are asking is probably the same one that everyone else in the room has in the back of their minds. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain from asking questions.

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Different sensory inputs have different importance to different people. A chef relies heavily on his sense of taste, a musician depends on her sense of hearing, and a masseuse uses her sense of touch more than the average person. A good problem-solver uses all of their senses to find solutions to problems. If you always ignore your sense of smell, you will never invent a solution that uses smell.

When you are exploring some problem, pay attention to all of your senses. For example, if you are designing a new shoe, pay attention to the smell of the leather used in making the shoe. Pay attention to the texture of the fabric. Feel your foot and get a good idea for what a foot feels like. Listen to what sounds the shoe makes. Does it squeak when you walk?

A good way to focus some attention on your other senses is to deprive yourself of the ones you use most often. Wear a blindfold and try to use your remaining senses to think about the problem. You can block out the other senses using similar methods (earplugs to block hearing, for example).

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This exercise will test your ability to use your underused sense of touch to visualize and draw an unknown object.

You will need to find several objects whose shape cannot be immediately identified. For example, a pair of scissors would be a bad choice. Try to find some uncommon objects like small toys or machine parts. Place these objects into an opaque bag or box and instruct people to feel inside the bag for an object. They should explore the object with their fingers and then try to draw it from memory. Have someone else find some objects for you to use.

After you have finished your drawing, remove the actual object and compare. How close did you get? With practice, you will get better at visualizing and drawing objects from memory.

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