It’s not uncommon for students to experience “blocks” when facing everyday challenges in school. You can’t get that exam ready, you can’t put yourself up to writing that essay, or simply, homework assignments start to seem tedious or mundane. If you recognize yourself in some of these situations, don’t sweat it; it just goes to show you’re a normal student like any other. But how can you overcome this feeling and start enjoying the tasks assigned to you?
Start by putting your creativity to the test. Making your mind go wild and thoughts float freely can be difficult, especially if you’re living with other people, working a job to pay off tuition, or have a cat that jumps up and down the room (it happens). Creativity is a thing of beauty; it allowed us humans to change the world and shape it since the dawn of time. Imagine for a moment that you could not only focus, but be creative about your learning and work. Here are five smart activities to help you ignite your creative spirit and improve your learning abilities in college:
An activity that’s widely regarded to be both productive and engaging when it comes to creativity. Grab the first item you can find at your hand’s reach. A pen, a notebook, anything will do. Now think of ten ways to use it. For example, we can use a notebook as a makeshift tent, albeit a small-scale one. Think of ten examples like this. Go wild, don’t think about the why, not just the how. The test may come off as silly, but it actually activates divergent thinking and your results divide into four categories:
- Fluency: How many uses for the item did you come up with?
- Originality: How uncommon are these uses?
- Flexibility: How many categories do your answers cover? (the tent for example, is an outdoor item)
- Elaboration: What’s the level of detail in the use you came up with?
This one is a gem if you’re into graphic design, art, or just like to scribble when you’re bored. Grab a piece of paper and draw a shape. Any shape; an incomplete letter, a half of a circle, a number. Now try to complete the image by using the shape as a base. This is called a “Torrance Test of Creative Thinking” and it was developed in the ’60 with the goal to identify people with alternative IQs. Sounds interesting, right? Give it a shot. You may be surprised with the results.
Using riddles to improve your creativity is an oldie but a goldie. Websites like GoodRiddlesNow.com offer a vast variety of brain teasers to get your creative side to front and center. Psychologists use riddles to specifically measure and develop convergent thinking, and unlike the first test about alternate uses, the goal here is to arrive at one specific answer.
Elephant, vivid, lapse; what do these three words have in common? It’s up to you to discover. The Remote Associates test revolves around giving yourself three words, seemingly at random, and trying to find a fourth word that links all of these together. The answer to the example in mind is “memory”. Seems obvious, right? Give it a try; creative thinking is best developed when you think about a wide number of subjects.
Take this one in a safe environment, as it involves burning a candle. All you really need is a candle, a box of thumbtacks and a few matches. Your goal is to fix the candle to a wall in a way it doesn’t drip wax onto the table below it. Sounds crazy, right? The test was developed by a psychologist Karl Duncker in 1945 and it’s a classic when it comes to overcoming creativity problems. Just be careful not to burn anything.
Try taking one or two of these at different times during the day; take days in between to process the information and give your mind some rest. You’d be surprised by how you’ll think of new and intriguing ways to overcome infamous writing blocks or studying deprivations. It’s all a matter of perspective, and if you give yourself a fresh one, the amount of work you can get done will increase exponentially. And do be careful with that candle!