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!
Previously, we discussed how different environments can affect performance. This exercise will help you determine what types of things help or hinder your own creativity.
First, think about your current conceptual productivity and rank it on a scale of 1 to 10. This will serve as a benchmark to determine improvement in the future. Now, get a piece of paper and describe the most ideal environment that you can imagine. If you could design and build the perfect office or study, what would you do? Think about lighting, noise, temperature, access to materials, access to food, collaboration with friends and co-workers, communication, etc.
Once you are done, compare this perfect environment to the one in which you currently work. What small changes could you make to move your current space toward your ideal? Make these changes. Once you have used the new space for a while, rank your productivity again and see if it has improved.
If you work in a group, have everyone do this exercise (anonymously if desired) and see what the team has in common. If you implement these common requests, you'll be boosting the productivity of everyone involved.
Your environment has a big impact upon your creative ability. If you work in a cubicle with perfectly white walls, boring furniture and elevator music, your creativity is probably going to be stifled.
Each person has his or her own particular environment that fosters performance. Some people do better in cold rooms, some in hot rooms. Some people like music, and others require silence. Some additional factors that affect performance are windows, lighting, color, decorations, food and drink, size of space, etc.
If you work in a group, try to be sensitive to the needs of your teammates. If you know that someone works best in silence, try to keep your music down (or use headphones). If some people work well on a sugar high, bring cookies and soda into your brainstorms. Simple changes around the office or classroom can have big effects on how people function in those spaces.
Engineering challenges are fun activities that are frequently assigned to students in physics or engineering classes, but they can easily be used outside of these venues. An engineering challenge usually has a simple goal and some rules about what sorts of materials you are allowed to use. These are great ways to get people thinking creatively and to foster teamwork and competition. Try an engineering challenge at a birthday party, office outing, scout meeting, or any other gathering where you want to have fun and encourage creativity.
In The Bridge challenge, each team is given some building materials such as glue, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, or small pieces of wood. Each team should get the same amount of materials. The goal is to build a bridge that can span a 24-inch distance and support increasing amounts of weight. The bridge that can support the most weight before breaking is the winner.
Engineering challenges are fun activities that are frequently assigned to students in physics or engineering classes, but they can easily be used outside of these venues. An engineering challenge usually has a simple goal and some rules about what sorts of materials you are allowed to use. These are great ways to get people thinking creatively and to foster teamwork and competition. Try an engineering challenge at a birthday party, office outing, scout meeting, or any other gathering where you want to have fun and exercise your creativity.
The Egg Drop is one of the most famous engineering challenges. Each team is given a raw egg (sometimes light bulbs are used instead) and a small amount of simple building materials such as toothpicks, popsicle sticks, glue, rubber bands, paper, tape, etc. Each team should use the same materials. The teams must then build a device that will protect their egg from a drop of a specified height (at least 10 feet). Set a reasonable time limit and have some small prizes for any team that succeeds in creating something that will protect an egg from breaking upon landing.
A recent study by the Australian National University tested peoples' problem solving abilities while standing up and lying down. They found that people were slightly better at solving problems while in a horizontal position.
This difference in cognitive ability may come from the varied release of a neurotransmitter called noradrenaline, which is believed to interfere with creative thinking. When you are lying down, your body releases less noradrenaline.
So, if you need to do some serious thinking, lying down may slightly boost your performance.