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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!

The following exercise will help you pick a scent that you can associate with being in a creative mood. Whenever you need to get back into that mood, you can use the scent to get you there.

Find an unusual scent and make it into a scent canister. Browsing the spice aisle at the supermarket is a good way to find new scents. The first step is to condition yourself to associate this scent with being in a creative mood. It will take several weeks to accomplish this. Whenever you are feeling particularly creative or mentally productive, take a whiff from your scent canister to associate the smell with your mood.

After a while, the association will be so strong that the scent will act like a trigger to help you bring out your most creative self.

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For each item in the list below, close your eyes and try to get a mental picture of the object. Try to make it as clear as possible. Are there any sounds, smells or tastes associated with this item?

1. A red rose
2. Your father
3. A cow wearing pants
4. Elvis Presley
5. The world's biggest sandwich

Once you are done, grade yourself on how clear each object appeared in your mind (clear, vague, nothing). The next time you see one of these items, pay special attention to it and try to memorize its features, then repeat this exercise and see if you've improved.

There are some items in the list that you are certain to have never seen before. These are designed to flex your ability to put several memories together into one image.

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The next time you are stuck on a project ask yourself this question, "If the goals of this project were completely opposite of the actual goals, what would I do differently?" When we think about a project in one particular way we can get into a mental rut which is hard to escape. A question like this gets you thinking about opposites, which will in turn get you out of the rut and get your mind thinking about new ideas. Sometimes solutions that are completely opposite of the solutions you seek can be very fruitful.

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Just as your subconscious can work on problems while you do something else, your subconscious can also work on a task while you sleep on it. Here is an exercise to help you prepare to sleep on a problem.

Get a piece of paper and write down a one-sentence summary of your problem or project. Then write down a few related keywords. Review the problem in your mind for a few minutes and make a conscious request to yourself to think about this problem while you sleep. Now, forget about it and go to sleep. As soon as you awaken, look at the piece of paper and read the summary and keywords. Chances are, some interesting ideas will come to mind. Write these down and review them later. You may find that the answer to your problem has come to you in your sleep.

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Many people have a to-do list to keep track of tasks that they might otherwise forget to do. This organization is a great way to help remember everything that you need to do. Having a to-do list can also help you plan your work ahead of time. As we have learned, a little planning can greatly improve your motivation and productivity.

A pen and paper is all you really need for a task list, but many people prefer using their PDA because it can keep track of important information such as due-dates and priorities. The problem with PDAs is that they have tiny screens are often difficult to use.

A web-based task list is the best of both worlds. It's easy to use and is accessible from anywhere, even from your cellphone! Toodledo.com is probably the most fully functional web-based task manager out there. Give it a try (it's free).

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