Proven Mind Pumping Exercises To Build Creativity

Michael Michalko is a world-renowned creativity expert who has worked with NATO, CIA, Fortune 500 companies and many individuals to build their creativity and expand their thinking. He believes that you can become an effective idea person by regularly “mind pumping” with these mental exercises:

Set an Idea Quota – Work out your mind daily and set an idea quota as a challenge (e.g. five new daily ideas a week).

Get Tone – Pay attention to what happens around you, and the mundane turns into the miraculous.

See Tiny Truths – Select a photo or a picture with the more details the better. Relax and set a timer. Then focus on the picture for 10 minutes. Review the experience visually, and recall those visual experiences regularly and frequently. Some say tiny truths are the voice of God.

Don’t be a Duke of Habit – Routines can create limited problem-solvers. Deliberately change simple life things (e.g. drive to work a different route, read a different magazine, drink juice versus coffee) as a way to break your routine.

Feed the Head – Gore Vidal used to say, “the brain that doesn’t feed itself eats itself.” So read to feed. Read a how-to book on anything, biographies, different magazines. Walt Disney relied on Readers Digest for many of his ideas. He called it a gymnasium for training ideas.

Do Content Analysis – Megatrends author John Naisbitt pioneered “trend spotting” by reading and analyzing all forms of information. During World War II, the Allies would read social pages to locate German officers. Save and scan your junk mail for a month to see trends and ideas, ads, marketing, pricing. What new values can you discern?

Make a Brain Bank – Keep a container (e.g. shoe box, file or coffee can) of ideas. Collect interesting ads, quotes, designs, cartoons, etc to pump your brain.

Be a Travel Junkie – When you get stale and bored, go to the library, museum, park, mall or flea market. Wander around with an open mind and wait to catch ideas. Jerry Seinfeld supposedly would sit on a park bench in a different part of New York to get ideas for his routines.

Capture Your Thoughts – Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Look sharply after your thoughts. They come unlooked for, like a new bird seen on your tree, and, if you turn to your usual task, disappear.” If you think it, write it. In general, short-term memory remembers fairly well for the first few seconds.

Think Right – Consciously work to make your thinking more fluent and more flexible (fluency = the number of ideas; flexibility = creativity). To empower fluency, lists are very important. Think and list how many different uses for WD-40. Flexibility equals beyond the ordinary and conventional role. It means improvisation and intuition and more context and perspective. It focuses on processes rather than outcomes.

Keep an Idea Log – Write and log each problem as the CIA does. They have a written log for every problem recording ideas, facts, thoughts, questions, etc. Your log will gain from having a personal and professional section (e.g. marketing, parenting, recreation). Review ideas periodically as a good way to titillate your imagination.

All of these terrific ideas and many more are presented in Thinkertoys-Handbook-Creative-Thinking-Techniques. Pump some of these exercises and become more creative.