Standard Creativity test No. 1:
In two minutes, write down all the uses you can think of for a paper clip. Add and divide by two.
Score in words per minute: 12-16 -- genius, 8-11 -- superior, 5-8 -- good, 0-4 -- normal.
"It's normal to be uncreative," says Michael Gelb. "Though this test is designed to measure intelligence, it actually shows how we constrain our intelligence -- the limits we put on it."
Creativity test No. 2: In two minutes think of as many things as you can for which you cannot in any way use a paper clip. Divide by two and score as above.
This test shows you things you aren't willing to consider because they're "absurd," "impractical" or "silly," says Gelb. "Creativity is the ability to extend your limits, look at things from another perspective."
Other "brain-friendly" creativity pointers:
*Take frequent breaks. Research indicates that understanding and recall are always higher with 60 minutes maximum learning time and a 10-minute break.
*Separate the generative phase of learning from the limiting stage. Don't let classic creativity killers -- "if that was really good, somebody would have thought of it" -- unconsciously intrude into the generative phase.
*Make your environment "brain nourishing" and conducive to creativity. Music, lighting and art can all have an effect on the brain's ability to learn. Common responses to the question, "Where are you physically located when you get your best ideas?" include: in the shower; going to sleep; waking up; going for a run, swim, drive.
*Determine the "appropriate effort" for a project. "On low-level problems that require brute strength, just pouring out more energy will work. But in the more subtle realms of life it's finding the appropriate effort rather than just more effort."