Creativity-Unlocking Experiments

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A personal list of reminders that I can check in with and make sure I unlock my creative engine. The order is random. There’s also a YouTube version of this, containing eye-candy visuals.

  1. Simplify your surroundings. An empty space provides a distraction-free environment so that you can play around with ideas in your head.
  2. Complicate your environment. Having more stuff around you can trigger a mind-blowing idea. Objects have life and meaning. They can be a great catalyst for innovation.
  3. Copy your idols. You will find your voice.
  4. Reverse engineer what others are doing while adding enhancements of your own.
  5. Put your imperfect ideas out. This will create room for more.
  6. Play with the objects around you. Ask yourself: what is the best way I can manipulate this object so that the thing I am doing is both functional and aesthetically pleasing and congruent with the environment I’m in.
  7. Meditate. One minute, two minutes, three minutes. Whatever tickles the pickle.
  8. Learn to breathe not only while you are meditating, but also during your day. Calibrate your default breathing state.
  9. Journal. Free form writing helps you get the bugs out. Do it in the morning, afternoon, evening. Do it whenever you feel like it.
  10. Go out for a walk.
  11. Play with your pet.
  12. Read, read, and read widely, and deeply, both mainstream and the fringe: newspapers, magazines, newsletters, novels, books, and even mailshots.
  13. Maintain a roving eye for interesting words or phrases or sentences, and see how they are strung together to express elegant ideas or novel messages eloquently and succinctly across to the reader.
  14. While reading your daily news intake, pay particular attention to three specific areas: a) the editorials; b) the economic analyses; c) the political commentaries; These segments are usually written by editors and senior journalists with a seemingly impeccable command of language. Although it is not a rule.
  15. Create something small every single day. One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.
  16. While watching movies, maintain a roving eye and ear for interesting as well as intriguing dialogues or conversations;
  17. Always keep a large notebook at hand and capture the interesting sentences you are ingesting, especially when learning a foreign language. This initiative is called sentence mining.
  18. Write, write, and write, as much as you can, and make sure you use the captured bits to animate your language expressions, in emails or blogs or reports or proposals, or even presentations/sales pitches, in addition to helping you to internalize the new vocabulary; moreover, writing avidly also enhances your grammar.
  19. Use as much of the material you have captured and gathered in (17) in your daily dynamic speaking activities, too: conversations, dialogues, discussions, meetings, doing presentations or sales pitches, blogging, webcasting, podcasting, etc.
  20. Start writing about something you cannot find online in places like Wikipedia. Once writing becomes your hammer, you will see nails everywhere. Supply creates its own demand.
  21. Document ideas, gather them up, create a reference system.
  22. Work on your computer using the left hand if you are a righty and your right hand if you are a lefty. You will be amazed at how hard it is at first, but it is also worth it and you will slow down and enjoy the newly discovered pace.
  23. Change your clothes.
  24. Reorganize your furniture.
  25. Reorganize your desk.
  26. Trying remixing your old work. Repackage your old ideas and make sure you don’t repeat yourself. You can tweak those out and eliminate what’s unnecessary.
  27. Read your old notes or do a review of your past projects.
  28. Start small. One-click, on word, one brush stroke. This will get the momentum going.
  29. Set deadlines and constraints. Unlimited time can often be deadly.
  30. Record your thoughts using your phone. Review those when feeling stuck.
  31. Break up your routine.
  32. Doodle random stuff.
  33. Practice stream of consciousness writing.
  34. Try out a new tool and approach what you are doing from a different angle.
  35. Set limitations. You are only allowed to draw using one particular pencil. This way you won’t have to face the Paradox of Choice.
  36. Scramble the location of your apps on your phone. This will force you to break the auto-pilot mode and actually pay attention to what you are doing
  37. Make a list using pen and paper. Repeat the doodling.
  38. Collaborate with someone.
  39. Try speedrunning through your work. You code quicker, you shoot, you write, you hit more walls, you debug, you type, you fix and you ship quicker. You think ahead. You are getting through the cycles faster and generate more feedback loops from which you can find lessons and experiences a lot quicker.
  40. Start learning something you think is impossible.
  41. Start learning something that your brain told you you are not good at.
  42. Remember that the harder something is to do, the fewer people will do it. Be the one who does it.
  43. Be on the lookout for things that do not make sense. Reverse engineer and see why.
  44. Choose what you want to do carefully. If you are watching this video right now, you are probably not doing something else. That’s opportunity cost. Choosing to do one thing requires you to give up on another.
  45. Stop following rules every single time.
  46. Say no to the stuff you would have normally said yes to.
  47. Do something completely opposite from what the others are expecting from you.
  48. Do a quick workout. Push-ups, crunches, pull-ups. It will wake you up.
  49. Establish a purpose, even if you are not fully satisfied with it. Experiment with that purpose and continuously enhance and adapt it.
  50. Slack, do nothing. Allow yourself time to accept that doing nothing is actually a good thing.