3 Powerful Exercises that Will Help You Focus Your Thinking

10:01:00 PM

Whenever you are trying to think of a new idea you are actually setting off across a new and unexplored sea of thoughts inside your mind. On your journey you fight with high waves that throw your thinking in various directions, sea monsters that try to devour your inspiration, sirens who aim to distract you from being productive and pirates who want to steal away your ideas. 

Think for a moment of yourself as a great sea explorer like Columbus, Cook, Drake or Magellan. Those guys had courage, stamina and knowledge that took them to their desired destinations. 

One of the basic skills they had to learn before even intending to board their ships was to read the stars. Just like the stars helped them navigate their ships to reach new shores, well defined focus statement will guide your thoughts towards new and undiscovered ideas.

Without the right focus your thinking will be futile. You may be capable of producing many ideas, but how many of them will really solve your problem? Probably none. In the end, you will waste valuable time, creative energy and motivation and eventually, you will give up on your creative efforts. The problem will remain and your frustration will grow.

A few months ago I wrote an article about how to focus where I explained what is focus, what types of focuses there are and I also shared with you some practical tips on how to use focus in your creative thinking. In this post I will invite you to try out a few creative exercises that will help you fully understand the concept of this somewhat abstract term. Once you understand its nature, you will be able to manipulate it and thus significantly improve the outcome of your creative thinking. So, let us begin.

Coffee Shop Exercise

This exercise will illustrate how careful focusing can help you discover important information that will inspire your creative thinking.

Go to a nearby coffee shop and choose a table from where you can see most of the place without being particularly obvious. Look for a couple sitting at a table and start observing them carefully. It can be a male-female couple, two females or two males who are just sitting there and chatting. Watch them for some time. Observe the way each of them is sitting, the way they are dressed, what they are drinking, watch their body language, the way they are conversing… Try to pick out as many details about them as you can. After some time, take out your notebook and write down their history. Who are they? What is their background? Where is each of them coming from? Where do they live? How much do they earn? What are their interests? What are their likes and dislikes? How are they related to each other? Are they lovers? Friends? Business partners? If they are lovers, how does their relationship look like? Do they live together? What are their plans? Do they ever fight over something? If they are friends, how long have they known each other? What is their favourite pass time? What was their most stupid adventure? If they are business partners, what is their industry? What is their position in the firm? Do they work in a local or multinational company? You will be surprised at how much you will be able to write about these two people simply by focusing on their public appearance.

Funny Video Exercise

This exercise will show you how a change of focus can shed new light on the subject of your thinking. If you feel that you are stuck in your creative thinking, stop and re-examine the focus you were concentrating on. Maybe you should change it. Maybe you should think of the problem form another point of view. Watch this video, follow the instructions and be surprised. 

In case you have received this article by email and cannot see the video, please click here to watch it on YouTube. Thanx.

Text Message Exercise

This exercise will teach you how to sharpen your focus. Once you learn how to create short, well defined and precise thoughts you will be able to think faster and in a more effective, creative and prolific way. This will be beneficial not only for your creative thinking but also in your everyday communication with other people.

Grab a magazine that is at your hand and read a one-page, or even better, two-page article. Read it carefully, concentrate on every word. Now take a piece of paper and summarize the article in five sentences. You will probably find it hard to put everything in just a few sentences. Use your own words or rephrase the original sentences if necessary. Write several versions until you have crafted a five sentence summary of the text. Now try to write a three sentence summary of the same text. Remember to stay on the topic. Keep the most important facts and key words and leave out all the unnecessary details mentioned in the text. When you have successfully managed to write a three sentence report, brace yourself for the ultimate challenge. Summarize the whole text in just one sentence. Make it in the form of a text message that you can send to a friend via sms or as a post on Twitter. Write in one short sentence what the article was about. You can start with: This article is about..., or: In this article the author explores..., or: This article is a report on...

In case you find this exercise too challenging, do not despair. This is probably the first time that you are trying out this new skill and it is normal that you are facing certain difficulties. Keep practicing and in short time you will be able to write very precise and focused summaries of the articles you have read.  

For me, creative thinking is an extremely interesting process. And what is best about it - it is not reserved only for the artists and inventors - anybody can engage in it. I hope that you enjoyed these exercises and that they will help you become even better creative thinker.

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If you wish to further explore this topic, you can check out the selection of my favourite books about creative thinking.

Key words for this blog post:
how to focus, focusing exercises, creative thinking techniques, creative thinking, focus, what is focus, how to use focus, thinking skills, creative problem solving...   

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