Creative Tip of the Day #3: Divergent Thinking

I know you’re probably tired of the cliché “Think outside the box,” but practicing divergent thinking (or Connect Brainset) helps generate multiple solutions to a problem rather than just one, increasing the likelihood of success.

Dr. Shelley Carson, professor in creativity and psychopathology at Harvard University, says: “The ability to generate multiple solutions is combined with an upswing in positive emotion that also provides incentive and motivation to keep you interested in your creative project."

Tip #3Give a problem where there is not a unique right answer. Try the Alternative Uses Test. You will need a stopwatch or timer, a piece of paper, and a writing utensil. Give yourself three minutes to brainstorm as many uses as possible for everyday objects like a hammer, paperclip, tire, napkin, etc. You can also try writing down as many solutions as you can think of to address a specific social scenario, like a noisy neighbor or an overseas plane ride. Set the timer for three minutes and write down as many solutions as you can think of that will alleviate these problems. When you hear the timer, put down the writing utensil. Without judging the quality, look over your list. The more you do these exercises, the easier it will be to generate novel and creative ideas.

Another everyday activity that practices divergent thinking are memes. The Internet is full of trending images that spread from person to person with a slight variation on the caption based on the individual’s imagination and originality. Try asking people to caption a picture as this can open your mind to more creative thinking.

Caption this!

Make sure you check out our next creative tip of the day on separating work from consumption!