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Applied Creativity – Useful tips to improve your creative thinking and put it to good use.

Throughout my life as a creative person, I have sought to understand not only the nature of creativity, but how to do a better job of harnessing it. This includes my art and music, my work, and my daily life.

Everyone is creative at some level. The very act of living expresses creativity. But very often we get stuck in thinking ruts, either because we feel safer in them or because we didn’t know how to approach things differently.

Here are some techniques I’ve discovered that you can apply to your work and life to solve problems, find hidden solutions, and see the world more creatively.

Take a few steps back from the problem.

We can trip ourselves up by being too close to something so that we cannot see it objectively anymore. This creates blind spots and roadblocks. Often, we can fix this ourselves, but occasionally it’s useful to get an outside opinion. What you really need is a new perspective to create a clever solution.

Visualize the result.

Once you have a clear picture in your mind, you will know what you’re aiming for and can pursue it more directly. However, be open to change as new ideas appear and situations change.

Use the toaster in your mind.

Your brain has an idea factory inside it – your subconscious mind. It’s working 24/7 and never asks for time off, but many of us fail to use it properly. Or worse, we never stop and listen to it.

Often, we try too hard to solve a problem, racking our brains for answers. This chokes off neural pathways and causes us to hit a roadblock. That’s when it’s best to think about something else entirely, or engage in an activity that doesn’t require much thought such as exercise, gaming or meditation. Ever notice that you’ll have an epiphany in the shower, or while driving? It’s because you’re distracted.

I like to call this the “toaster effect”. When I’m struggling with a solution or I’m just tapped for ideas, I toss the idea back into the toaster – my subconscious. Then I forget about it. I quit thinking about it altogether. Usually within a day or so, the answer just miraculously appears in my mind, like my Pop Tarts are done. And often, it’s an idea I would have never had on my own.

The subconscious processes information differently than our conscious mind, and as such, comes up with some amazing stuff. It’s really the engine that drives creativity as a whole.