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5 Ways to Hack Your Brain Into Being Creative

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Jeff Cuellar

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Ever run into a workplace problem that you just couldn’t crack? Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. The worst thing about such situations is when your mind turns to jelly. You can’t think. You can’t focus. You can’t get your creative juices flowing to solve the damn problem!

Just relax for a second. No need to unleash your inner Samuel L. Jackson. All you have to do is follow these 5 simple ways to boost your creativity so you can get sh*t done:

 

1. Unchain Yourself from Your Desk and Walk Around

The simplest way to boost your creativity when dealing with a tough problem is to take a walk outside, visit a café, or read a book at the lounge area. Of course, you’ll need to ask your boss for the key to the leg shackles chaining you to your desk first.

You’ll be surprised how much mental gridlock a quick 15-minute walk outside can resolve. Why is that? Well, it has to do with something called “inspiration.”

If your office is about as sad and dreary as a castle set piece from HBO’s Game of Thrones, it’s probably not a very inspirational place for creativity – unless you work for Google.

So take some time to get out of the office and refill your creativity meter before heading back to your dungeon workplace.

 

2. Try to See the Problem from a “Psychologically Distant” Point of View

Part of the reason you can’t focus on a problem is because it’s staring you right in the face. Think about it. If you’re sitting at your desk and the person sitting right across from you is just staring, it kind of makes it hard to concentrate on the work at hand right?

Well, that’s part of the idea behind taking a “psychologically distant” approach to the problem. If you look at an obstacle as though it’s someone else’s problem you’re trying to solve or approach it like you’re playing a game – it makes it easier to come up with creative solutions.

If you’ve seen the movie Ender’s Game, the same concept is used to err… destroy an alien species. Just be thankful you’re not dealing with that kind of work-related problem!

 

3. Realize That There’s More Than One Way to Crack an Egg

Constantly using one approach to solve a problem is well… a problem. That’s because once you run into a situation that completely stumps you and your “usual” approach doesn’t solve it – you’re done.

Now think about this problem – how many ways are there to crack an egg? I bet you can think of 101 creative ways to get around that obstacle! The point is that if you can’t solve a problem with a one-dimensional approach, you’re going to get stuck.

But if you can think about multi-dimensional ways to “crack” the problem, your creativity can lead you to a solution, or even better, multiple solutions!

 

4. Use Someone as a Springboard to Bounce Ideas Off 

Mental blocks aren’t just a problem for the average executive. Even the most successful people among us can have trouble putting their ideas into action or finding a solution to a complex problem.

One successful executive coach I know suffers from this problem regularly. In fact, there are days when his ivy-league educated mind just comes to a complete creative stop. Does he give up? Nope. He holds a dialogue.

He regularly invites a “discussion partner,” usually a friend or colleague, to talk about his work obstacles. This conversation jumpstarts his creativity and leads to ideas that he can then share and filter through his discussion partner. And it’s something that can do in your office with a co-worker.

 

5. Have a Drink… Really!

Sometimes, the biggest obstacle to thinking past a mental roadblock is you, and that’s OK. You might be somewhat of an introvert or you might have “idea anxiety” because your boss shoots down every idea like a fighter jet.

That doesn’t mean you should sit around all day doing nothing. So have a drink. I’m serious, have ONE alcoholic drink. It’s an approach that creative individuals ranging from Hemingway to Ogilvy have indulged in to get their mental motors running.

Scientifically, having a drink doesn’t really make you more creative. But it makes you “think” you’re more creative, which is enough to help you break a mental deadlock.

Just do overdo it and be discreet. Blatantly drinking on the job will get you fired just as fast as sitting around idle all day will – unless you work for one of those “cool” companies with great perks.

 

What creativity-producing techniques do you use? Share your experience with us here!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.