Improve your Creative Thinking

Consciously work to make your thinking more fluent and more flexible. Fluency means the number of ideas, flexibility refers to creativity). Making lists is a powerful way to increase your thinking fluency, as it forces you to focus your energy in a very productive way. To illustrate this, take a few minutes to think about possible uses for the lubricant WD-40. You probably came up with some ideas, but you almost certainly had a little trouble focusing. You probably censored some thoughts and came up with only the most obvious uses.

Actually, listing possible uses for WD-40 will help you feel more focused and interested and develop many ideas. Giving yourself a time limit will make you even more productive. But fluency is not enough — you must also be flexible.

If your list included such uses as “quick lubrication, loosen rusted things, lubricate bicycle chains,” and so on, you demonstrated fluency. Still, you listed the ordinary expected uses of the product. You are flexible if your list contained such unusual entries as:

  • Fishbait.
  • Loosen jammed recycle disposals.
  • Spray on birdhouse poles to keep animals away from the nest.
  • Bait for mousetraps.
  • Prevent deterioration of musical instrument strings.
  • Unstick car doors in case of accidents.

Flexibility in thought means the ability to see beyond the ordinary and conventional roles. It means you are more improvisational and intuitive, can play with context and perspective, and focus on processes rather than outcomes.

Following the next exercise will help to improve your fluency and flexibility. Write four-word sentences from the set of 8 given words:

I    don’t    like    unicorns    angry    cats    eagerly    happy