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How to Boost Your Creativity Quotient

There is not yet a precise way to measure your creativity, although in a recent issue of the Brainpower Newsletter I did have some thoughts about how to create such a test. I suggested that to measure your creative ability you could look at three criteria; the quantity of your ideas, their originality, and their quality. You can certainly train your mind to do better in all three areas, so when the day comes that a decent "creativity quotient test" is common, you'll score high.

Creativity Through Quantity

In general, having a lot of ideas ideas increases the odds of having some good ones. The research shows this, as well as personal experience. Let's look then, at how to generate more ideas.

Practicing helps - no big surprise there. In ten minutes, write down as many uses as you can for a piece of string. This is a typical creative problem solving exercise. You might get a dozen ideas the first time you try, but do it a few times (with different items), and you'll find that you are coming up with twice as many ideas before long. Do this exercise with others and their ideas will get you thinking in new directions.

Of course it also helps to learn and practice several of the many specific techniques for generating ideas and creative solutions. These include mentally combining concepts to create new ones, tearing apart things and processes to change the components, challenging premises and others which I have covered in the newsletter. Use one until it becomes a habitual part of your thinking process, and then start using another.

Have More Original Ideas For A Higher Creativity Quotient

Original does not automatically mean useful, but since existing ideas have likely been tried, that which is new will more likely add value. But new to you may not be new to the world. I regularly dream up of new ideas and inventions which I later find already exist. That's okay. What is new to you is just a starting point.

How original are you in your thinking? Why not try a creativity exercise like the one mentioned above, where you try to find as many uses as you can for something. Afterwards show your ideas to a friend, and if he or she doesn't laugh at some of them, or if you are not a bit embarrassed by a few, they're probably not original enough. Lower your inhibitions and let the thoughts flow, and only worry about critical analysis when you need to.

A silly or outrageous idea isn't inherently useful, and most of them will not be of much use. Consider the crazy idea of using chewing gum as a defensive weapon one gentleman wrote down during a brainstorming session. Throwing a sticky wad of gum at an attacker is just ridiculous, but upon reflection, it occurred to him that gooey balls with transponders in them could be thrown at fleeing suspects or their cars. They stick to anything and be trackable with a device the police would have - possibly a workable idea. You can see that the primary value of crazy and original ideas is that they can lead to better ideas.

Practice, and you'll improve the originality of your ideas. List all the craziest uses you can think of for a table or a pencil. Afterwards work with the associations created until you come up with something that might actually be of value. Ask crazy questions too, until it is a habit.

Having Higher Quality Ideas

One reason to boost your creativity quotient is to have more useful, perhaps even profitable ideas and solutions. Working on the two components above will help, but to really boost the quality of your ideas, try working in areas that actually mean something to you, and where you can actually apply your ideas. Perhaps it's fun to mentally invent new flying boats or ways to cure world hunger. It's good mental exercise too. But if you're not in a position to do something with those ideas, you won't be able to test them, refine them into something truly useful, and so develop a better sense of what works.

To practice better quality, work on problems you can actually do something about, and exercise your creativity on these. Find a new way to do yard work, for example, or a new and creative way to get the kids to do their homework. Putting your ideas into action tells your mind that they are important to real life, and so gets your unconscious mind working overtime on new ideas and solutions. This practice will boost your creativity more than just imagining ways to solve problems that mean nothing to you.

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