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!
The ability to concentrate is an important skill for a creative thinker. Without concentration you will be unable to dig past the trivial things on the surface and get to the interesting stuff the lies beneath the surface.
If you are having difficulty concentrating on a task, try pretending that you are not having trouble. Ask yourself what it would feel like if you were able to concentrate. How would you be sitting? What would you be thinking? Try to think back to a time when you were able to concentrate. How did you feel then? What is different from how you feel now? You can often trick yourself into concentrating if you think about what it would feel like to be doing it.
Look around the room and try to find as many squares as you can. Picture frames, sticky notes and tissue boxes are some examples of objects that are square. Remember, rectangles don't count! This exercise helps you become more aware of your surroundings and helps improve your attention to detail. If squares are too easy for you, try circles or triangles.
You can do this exercise whenever you are sitting around doing nothing, whether it's on the bus or in a waiting room. If you have a friend with you, make it a challenge to see who can find the highest number of a certain shape.
Here are some nonsense words. Use your creativity and try to come up with at least 3 unique definitions for each word. Word games like this are a great way to improve your mental flexibility and spontaneity.
Before you start working on a problem, use this exercise to help focus your problem statement. The idea is to zoom out or zoom in and make the problem either more general or more specific. You may discover that the problem is bigger or smaller than you originally thought and this may give you an idea for a creative solution.
For example, suppose the problem is that you have a messy living room. To zoom out, you can ask yourself why questions.
"Why is my living room messy?"
Because I don't have the time to clean it.
"Why don't I have time to clean it?"
Because I am always at work.
"Why am I always at work?"
Because I don't have an assistant to help me finish on time.
In this scenario, we have determined that the problem may be bigger than a messy room. Even if you were to clean your living room, it would just get messy again because the larger problem has not been solved. If you hire an assistant, then you'll have more time at home, and thus more time to keep your living room tidy.
Now try zooming in on the problem. The easiest way to do this is to break the problem into subproblems.
For example, you may narrow the problem to, "My desk is messy" or even "My top left desk drawer is messy" You may find a solution to the smaller problem that you never would have thought of if you had stuck with the larger problem. An added benefit of zooming in is that smaller problems are easier to start and finish than very large problems, so you are more likely to complete them.
If you ever feel overwhelmed with a problem, try zooming in. If a problem keeps reoccurring, try zooming out.
If you have a digital camera, carry it with you for an entire day and keep a lookout for things that you think are creative or interesting. Take a picture of these things. Go for at least 100 photos. If you are having a hard time, try to focus on the little details. A book could have a creative title or a pile of paper clips could be in an interesting arrangement. At the end of the day, review the photos and pick your favorite 5 things. What makes these things interesting to you? By doing this exercise you will be increasing your awareness of the creative aspects of things that are all around you. The photographs are also a good source of inspiration that you can turn to when you are stuck on a problem. Sometimes seeing other creative solutions will help you discover your own.