Six Clever Hacks to Think Creatively (826 words)

Innovate or stagnate. That’s the brutal reality we live in.

Podcaster and bestselling author James Altucher suggests you make a habit of brainstorming 10 new ideas every day.

(He also once wrote a blog post titled, “Why I Would Rather Shoot Myself in the Head Than Own a Home,” proving that you don’t necessarily need good ideas!)

But is brainstorming enough?

Outrunning the Velociraptor

To paraphrase Altucher, someday you may have to sprint 100 yards to escape a velociraptor. If you’ve been running every day for the past year, you’ll be a lot faster when the time comes.

The goal of writing ideas is to give your creativity muscle a daily workout. Then, when you really need to be creative, you can deliver.

The trouble is that most of us have limited lives. Most of your ideas will be directly related to your home, your work, your family or your passions.

If you have a lot of leisure time to travel, take classes, or read for hours every day, you’ll probably come up with a broader range of ideas.

For the rest of us, here are some easy shortcuts to become more creative and banish stagnation forever.

A Whack to the Side of the Head

Years ago, Roger Von Oech designed the “Creative Whack Pack.” It’s a deck of cards, except that each of Von Oech’s cards has a quick tip or question, followed by a cartoon and a story.

These cards are designed to get you thinking. For example, there’s a card that says, “See the obvious,” and has a picture of a mouse hiding in a cat’s ear.

The story underneath almost doesn’t need telling. No cat would ever think to check its own ear for mice. If you’re a mouse, that’s the obvious place to hide, right?

The card asks, “What resources and solutions are right in front of you?”

If you ponder this question while you brainstorm ways to solve a problem, you might surprise yourself.

There’s nothing new about using cards for creativity. Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created a movement with their Oblique Strategies, a deck of cards similar to the Creative Whack Pack. And you’ve probably heard of the Tarot deck, which has been around for centuries.

You can add another layer of creativity by coming up with your own ways to use any deck of cards.

Filling Up on Tweets

Set a timer for 10 minutes and open your favorite social media.

Carefully study the first 10 items in your newsfeed. Imagine each one is a secret encoded message for you. What is the purpose or meaning behind the playful kitten or the fancy lunch? What is the meme really saying?

How do each of these posts relate to your life or your career?

Tell a Joke

Watch any standup comedian. You’ll see them talk about something that everyone in the audience already knows and understands.

Then they’ll say one small thing that reframes the subject. They’ll describe it in a way that nobody has thought of before.

And everybody laughs.

Humor is the most creative thing human beings can do. It’s all about looking at the everyday, the obvious, in a new way.

Make up a joke about your life, your business, or a problem you’re trying to solve. You’ll start to see it from a different angle.

Be Trendy

Which news topics are trending today?

If there’s something in the news that’s related to your life, you’ll probably have something to say about it. This could become your next blog post or video.

Better still, if you have the solution to a problem that’s trending, you may have just figured out how to make your next million and save the world in the process. Good job!

Unfortunately, the trending hashtags are usually about the Kardashians, Trump, and Game of Thrones. That’s when you need to dig a little deeper.

Search your own hashtags. Hashtag keywords related to your industry, your passions, or news that’s relevant to you. If you spend just 10 minutes doing this, new thoughts and ideas will start to tickle you.

Do Something Else

Some neurologists believe that creativity comes from the Default Mode Network (DMN). This is the part of your brain that acts as your “autopilot.”

When you’re awake, but not actively focusing on anything too engaging, your DMN starts to play around with thoughts and impressions.

If you’ve ever had a good idea while taking a shower, washing the dishes, or going on a walk, you’ve experienced this part of the brain in action.

Build time into your schedule to relax your brain and let the creativity slowly bubble to the surface.

Don’t Forget the Velociraptor!

You’re here today because your ancestors were creative. They outsmarted their enemies, outran predators, and gave birth to generations of smart kids.

This brings us to the most important tool—the one that you already know about. Your very own brain.

You probably don’t realize how creative you are.

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About Jacob Bear Many real estate agents are competing to build a strong presence in social media. Jacob shows you exactly how to create a content roadmap so everything you post is on-message and attracts the clients you need. Jacob has been writing copy for real estate professionals and entrepreneurs since 2006. His new talk, “The Appian Way,” provides realtors with a blueprint to overcome the disruptive challenge posed by online real estate companies. Learn more at



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