BRAINFOOD: Your route to the top - Think afresh

Identify your assumptions. The most frequent block to creative thinking is the boundaries we create in our mind before we start. Appraisals don't have to be done by bosses; presentations can be delivered without slides.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Allow time. When we rush, we usually end up with solutions that are variations on our standard ideas. Thinking creatively is very different from normal thinking, and we need to allow space to make this happen.

Write down all your ideas. What seems insane at the time may make more sense with further thinking. Trying to remember ideas takes up mental energy that should be devoted to creativity.

Don't linger on your favourite ideas. Once they have been recorded, forget them. They can be resuscitated later.

You don't need to provide a solution. If you always come up with an answer, you are almost certainly not thinking creatively enough. Finding a fresh solution means really stretching your creative muscles.

Pick up the pace. Lots of ideas are much better than a few. Coming up with hundreds of new ideas may seem like a waste of time, but it is more likely to be the best use of time when you need fresh thoughts.

Use alphabet spaghetti or Scrabble pieces to pick random letters and use them to ping your thinking into new areas. Follow your stream of consciousness: J; just in time; clock; Swiss; chocolate; treat; concert; VIP pass; bouncer; security - and so on.

Try team thinking. If you want to think afresh with a group, get each person to write down their ideas in a column; pass on each sheet and then write new ideas in the next column, using the last person's thoughts to prompt your own thinking.

Do you need to think afresh? If a simple solution is required, then get on with it; if innovation really is needed, remember to allow time and accept that there are no guarantees of a result.

The Mind Gym, www.themindgym.com.

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