There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” — Edward de Bono
Problem solving requires creativity. (Massive) success in our highly competitive world requires creativity.
Some people are naturally extremely creative. Most of us, unfortunately, aren’t that lucky.
But that’s ok, there are things we can do to become more creative each day, it just takes a little proactivity.
The production of ideas is just as definite a process as the production of Fords; —James Webb Young
The 50 Item List
This process involves you focusing 100% of your energy for a fixed amount of time coming up with at least 50 solutions to a problem or 50 ideas regarding any topic.
This rather intensive method is one of my favorite ways to solve problems and come up with new ways of doing things.
It will force you to think outside of the box and consider problems in a different light.
You will be forcing yourself to focus, dig deeper into old (seemingly forgotten) memories and facts and basically forge a problem solving mindset.
This brain dump opens your mind to new ideas and solutions you may have never thought of naturally.
It also clears the figurative dust off your resting memory.
This stirring of thoughts may trigger completely new ideas you didn’t intend to uncover.
So while some people are naturally more creative than others, anyone can become more creative than their current self.
According to creativity researcher Jonathan Plucker, PhD, a psychology professor at Indiana University, creativity is something that we can develop.
“As strange as it sounds, creativity can become a habit…Making it one helps you become more productive.”
Here are the rules for creating lists of 50.
#1. Don’t stop until you have 50 items on your list or a set time has elapsed (30-60 mins).
There is no secret power in the number 50. Just as 50 sit ups may be nothing for some people, but may kill others, you can (and should) adjust the number so that it is difficult. It is by really working through the list when ideas are hard to come by that you start to really see things in a new light.
#2 Don’t worry how stupid some of your ideas are (some of mine below are a little weird, but they are off the cuff.)
“It seems that when we are being perfectionists, we become extremely focused on the details or minutiae, whereas during our most creative times (or so the research suggests) we are in a most unfocused state, i.e. constraining certain ‘irrelevant’ trains of thought versus letting the mind free “to wander”. –Michele Youakim, Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience and Neuroanatomy at the University at Buffalo (via hubspot)
#3 Make it a habit.
The goal is to forge a permanent mindset of analysis and problem-solving won’t always have to create a list of 50 items to come up with creative ideas and solutions, but doing this regularly will strengthen your overall abilities.
#4 Push until it is very difficult.
That is when creativity develops (like a muscle, you’re training your brain to not stop searching for solutions and opportunities.)
#5 Repeat as often as you can
Ok…if you want to develop this habit but find 50 to be too many, you can shorten it. I believe that this is the type of exercise that less is actually less, but some is better than none.
50 Ideas for 50 Item Lists
- 50 ways you can eat better
50 ways you can save money
- 50 topics to write about
- 50 big words you know
50 facts you know about a topic
- 50 problems you have each day
- 50 ways to make new connections
- 50 ways to keep your house clean
- 50 things you want to do before you die
- 50 things you are thankful for
- 50 people you have met in your life
- 50 things you think are cool
- 50 things you hate
- 50 things you can do to lose weight
- 50 things you can do to improve your community
- 50 nice things about people you love
- 50 books you have read
- 50 ways to be nice to others
- 50 people you admire
- 50 ways to make money
- 50 places you have been
- 50 foods you love
- 50 memories you have
- 50 best things you have ever done
- 50 meals you could cook
- 50 marketing ideas
- 50 book ideas you could write
- 50 dreams you can remember
- 50 skills you can learn
- 50 skills you have
- 50 ways to improve learning retention
- 50 ways to get extra exercise
- 50 ways to show someone you love them
- 50 date ideas for you and your spouse
- 50 morning rituals you could adopt.
- 50 traits of successful people
- 50 ways to improve your desktop
- 50 quotes you love
- 50 athletes you remember
- 50 ways to improve your community
- 50 gifts you could give people
- 50 book topics you’d read
- 50 products you wish existed
- 50 mistakes you have made
- 50 facts about (anything)
- 50 ways things are better since (any year)
- 50 ways you can keep your car clean
- 50 names you like
- 50 things you don’t know
- 50 ways to meet more people.
There you have it… notice that list above is pretty random. Don’t be embarrassed by yours! They are supposed to be this way.
Now, go for it!