Got five minutes to spare? I recently listened to a TED Talk about a simple way to boost creativity and idea generation. It’s only five minutes long, and I highly suggest listening to it. Whether you have writer’s block, have an organizational problem you can’t seem to solve, or find yourself anxious before a meeting, speaker Marily Oppezzo suggests going for a walk. She found this through a study made up of three groups. They were broken up based on test groups who were sat vs. walked on a treadmill. The first group sat for both sessions, the second group sat first and walked during the second session, and then the third group walked first and sat during the second session. Each test group was asked to come up with “creative” answers to various questions. Creative, as she mentions in her talk, meaning appropriate (realistic) novelty (something that nobody else has said before). That third group, the one who walked on the treadmill first, came up with almost twice as many ideas as those who were sitting! They even found that those who walked first kept moment after they sat down. (Meaning this could be an excellent practice before you walk into a big meeting!) It’s important to remember this is just the first part of the creative process (be it problem solving or coming up with new initiatives all together). It’s a method to get you off the blank page; help you put something new on the table. Marily also offered five tips for when you, as she calls it, “take your thoughts for a walk.”
1. Pick a problem or a concept to brainstorm before you walk.
If you’re stuck on something, this shouldn’t be a problem. Just remember to have an objective!
2. You can do whatever physical activity you choose as long as it doesn’t take a lot of your attention.
If running is effortless for you — first, congratulations — feel free to do that instead. If you can’t walk outside, but find walking up and down stairs isn’t too distracting, try that!
3. Come up with as many ideas as you can without stopping.
Don’t stay on just one, keep coming up with new ideas and think about the development of them later. This might be the hardest part. It’s not necessarily about thinking of all the best ideas, it’s simply helping you think of something.
4. Speak them instead of writing them.
Go ahead and put your headphones on and record your ideas onto your phone. Because you don’t want to develop them, and because you’re in motion, this will allow you to think more deeply about them later
5. Don’t do this forever.
If you’re on a walk and the ideas aren’t coming, try again later! One can’t think of creative ideas for 2 hours straight. Try keeping your walks 10-20 minutes.Is it time for you to take your thoughts on a walk? Try it out today and see what happens.
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