Hacking the Creative Brain


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As tech professionals, what we need is a way to work better so that we can create more, right? Through exploring various concepts and approaches, including the neuroscience of creativity, productivity techniques, and emerging practices that spur innovation, we'll discover not only the ways in which our brains work best, but also what’s behind the times when we feel on fire with creativity and when we don't. We’ll translate this information into processes and techniques for dramatically enhanced creative productivity. Beware: this session challenges the standard norms around concentration, focus, productivity, and may change how you work…for the better.

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Hacking the Creative Brain

  1. >> Work Better Create More , /* Denise Jacobs <AngleBrackets /> Conference | Las Vegas, NV 29 October 2013 */
  2. Twitter Hacks I am: .@denisejacobs We’re at: #AngleBrackets And we’re going to #hackcreativity
  3. I’ve always loved to create, but…
  4. But I was still afraid: am I truly creative? Photo: Denise Jacobs
  5. After writing this…
  6. I had an epiphany http://www.flickr.com/photos/44085287@N05/4055814772/
  7. I realized that http://www.flickr.com/photos/designandtechnologydepartment/4771136128/
  8. Powerful and empowering http://www.flickr.com/photos/assbach/267598910/
  9. Thus, I speak, write, and evangelize creativity Photo: Derek Kearney
  10. Intro The State of the Union
  11. What’s our most important tool for creating? http://www.flickr.com/photos/drachmann/327122302/
  12. Not these… http://www.flickr.com/photos/plindberg/33867829/
  13. This one! http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APSM_V14_D495_Side_view_of_the_brain_and_spinal_cord.jpg
  14. Office-bound http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewf/393637161/
  15. Time pressures http://www.flickr.com/photos/indraw/4857101224/
  16. Managers
  17. Clients http://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/154640125/
  18. Bureaucracy http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4749431435/
  19. Oppressed http://www.flickr.com/photos/johannahobbs/2412291551/
  20. “Houston, we have a problem…” http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:S70-34902.jpg
  21. Instead of feeling like this http://www.flickr.com/photos/7730492@N03/4958540694/
  22. We end up feelig like this
  23. When we are in the creative flow http://www.flickr.com/photos/myfear/289257055/
  24. We are alchemists http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Faust_image_19thcentury.jpg
  25. “Creativity is newness produced.” - Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds
  26. It feels like http://www.flickr.com/photos/torley/2761300969/
  27. “Creativity is magical, but it is not magic.” - Dr. Charles Limb, Your Brain on Improvisation TED talk
  28. Who here feels like they are creative? http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/3135103537/
  29. “Creativity is all about making connections and seeing patterns.” - Bruce Nussbaum, Creativity Intelligence
  30. Creativity is critical http://business.time.com/2013/04/26/the-time-creativity-poll/
  31. Understand the mechanisms of creativity http://www.flickr.com/photos/mag3737/304687602/
  32. Let out all of your great ideas http://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/
  33. “Creativity makes day to day experiences more vivid, more enjoyable, more rewarding. When we live creatively, boredom is banished and every moment holds the promise of a fresh discovery.” - Mihali Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity
  34. 1 Emancipate & Adjust Our Goals 2 Practice & Generate 3 Innovate & Produce
  35. 1 Emancipate & Adjust
  36. Current work culture http://www.flickr.com/photos/emayoh/4589881812/
  37. Bad game of telephone http://www.flickr.com/photos/theory/3193684688/
  38. Habits and thinking to quit http://www.flickr.com/photos/meddygarnet/4170136164/sizes/l/
  39. Distractions http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicksherman/529178002/
  40. Multitasking http://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/3041235238/
  41. Zeigarnik Effect http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Zeigarnik_Effect
  42. Communication addiction http://www.flickr.com/photos/andersdenken/2082816707/
  43. Intermittent reinforcement http://www.flickr.com/photos/jepoirrier/422469526/ | http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristoferbjorkman/6910216819/ | http://www.flickr.com/photos/foreignoffice/2671039488/
  44. Busyness http://www.flickr.com/photos/wester/504925076/
  45. Internalized the critical voices http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeapalooza/553545517/
  46. Become monsters in your head http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/4887528060/
  47. Instead of Creativity Source: Flickr
  48. Destructivity http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevygee/3265941065/
  49. “If your demons are such that they fill the room the instant you contemplate creating, your studio will be too dangerous a place to enter.” - Eric Maisel, author of Fearless Creating
  50. Recognize the many forms of your Inner Critic
  51. Impostor Syndrome
  52. Hack >> Know the Impostor Syndrome Paradox http://www.flickr.com/photos/x1brett/2279939232/
  53. Comparisons http://www.flickr.com/photos/automania/126698126/
  54. Procrastination http://www.flickr.com/photos/irrezolut/2311904560/
  55. Perfectionism http://www.flickr.com/photos/diepuppenstubensammlerin/7648792510/
  56. Fear of failure http://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/2717325940/
  57. F.E.A.R. = “False Evidence Appearing Real” or, alternatively, “F*ck Everything And Run!”
  58. Thoughts on fear http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZIt20emgLY
  59. “Fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” - character of Cypher Raige (played by Will Smith), After Earth
  60. We become terrorists to ourselves http://www.flickr.com/photos/koomatuomio/4182554398/
  61. “Obsessing about preventing bad things from happening also prevents good things from happening, or sometimes prevents anything from happening at all.” - Scott Berkun, The Year Without Pants
  62. Hack >> Become a Fear Alchemist http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joseph_Wright_of_Derby_The_Alchemist.jpg
  63. “The goal is to manage anxiety so that our energies are used for the productive and satisfying (act) of creating, rather than the destructive and debilitating art of self-torture.” - Clare Warmke, Idea Revolution
  64. Banish the Inner Critic http://www.flickr.com/photos/mythoto/3822942678/
  65. Maintain perspective http://www.flickr.com/photos/daikrieg/1294053038/
  66. Empathize http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrote/2646295354/
  67. Reframe #fail http://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/2717326642/
  68. “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” - Dr. Edwin Land, The Instant Image: Edwin Land and the Polaroid Experience
  69. Nothing is a mistake
  70. Change your body language, change your mind http://www.flickr.com/photos/thirteenthnile/4546397775/
  71. “Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our outcomes.” - Amy Cuddy, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are TED talk
  72. Fake it until you become it http://www.flickr.com/photos/mangee/195050727/
  73. #Exercise: Power Pose Stand up. Assume a pose that embodies a sense of defeat, can’t do it, it will never work, “I suck/I’m no good/an impostor”, etc. Make yourself as small and powerless feeling as possible. Then, strike a power pose. Imagine yourself as a superhero looking off into the distance seeing your destiny of major creative butt-kicking. Alternate several times. Hold the power pose for as long as you can so that you can feel the change.
  74. Adjust: Train Your Brain http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiarescott/3211540197/
  75. Let’s take a closer look http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/6006414578/
  76. Left v. Right brain? http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=left%20brain%20right%20brain&order=9&offset=48#/d10qlpq
  77. Left hemisphere http://www.flickr.com/photos/smittenkittenoriginals/4451172538/
  78. Right hemisphere http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorelei-ranveig/2294885580/
  79. Instead: Left + Right brain = Creativity http://www.flickr.com/photos/47691521@N07/4639590640/
  80. “The parts of your brain that are responsible for self-monitoring are literally turned off during creative endeavors….Creative people have mastered the art of turning off [the inhibitive] part of their brains to let their ideas flow more smoothly, unleashing their imagination.” - Tina Seelig, InGenius
  81. What are our brains constantly producing? http://www.flickr.com/photos/cblue98/7254347346/
  82. Know your Brainwaves
  83. Alpha: the gateway to creativity
  84. #Exercise: Enter Alpha Close your eyes and relax. Breathe through your nose. Now place your tongue at the roof of your mouth, turn your eyes towards the ceiling underneath your eyelids. Take several deep, long breaths. As you relax, you are changing your brainwaves from Beta to Alpha.
  85. Hack >> Breathe to refocus http://www.flickr.com/photos/guiniveretoo/1573049301/
  86. Hack >> Being prone http://www.flickr.com/photos/snazzy54/4581347651/
  87. Hack >> Showers http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/3761878381/
  88. “When your brain is supposedly doing nothing, it’s really doing a tremendous amount.” – Marcus Raichle, Neurologist
  89. Hack >> Daydream/Space out http://www.flickr.com/photos/fuzzylittlemanpeach/4633972431/
  90. Hack >> Engage in mindless activity http://www.flickr.com/photos/rabi/2499381396/
  91. Hack >> Get physical http://www.flickr.com/photos/miguel77/2728104156/
  92. Hack >> Leverage Biophilia http://www.flickr.com/photos/verifex/3782787057/
  93. Hack >> Laugh http://www.flickr.com/photos/gagillphoto/3336353424/
  94. “When you are playful, you are activating the right side of your brain. The logical brain is a limited brain. The right side is unlimited. You can (do and ) be anything you want.” - Madan Kataria, The Laughter Guru
  95. Intend Alpha http://uniteunderfreedom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Brain-waves.jpg
  96. 3 Practice & Generate
  97. Exercise Discipline http://www.flickr.com/photos/bizz0k0/3432638748/
  98. Show up everyday http://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8064533288/
  99. And really commit to it http://www.flickr.com/photos/deathtogutenberg/2976274920/
  100. Focus on meaningful tasks http://www.43folders.com/2008/09/01/what-are-you-doing
  101. Hack >> Delegate http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/3645313261/
  102. #Exercise: To Don’t List To do more of what you love and less of what you dislike, start writing To Don’t Lists (aka “Stop Doing” Lists).   Pick a partner, and write a list of 3-5 items that you commit to stop doing within the next 30 days. Date the list. Share the list with your partner and get ideas on how to eliminate these items from your life either by stopping them or delegating/outsourcing the tasks.   Review your list in 30 days to see what you need to continue to stop doing so that your time is spent on what you value and want to cultivate. Create another list for the upcoming 30 days.
  103. Clean-up habit fields http://www.flickr.com/photos/risager/3452272176/
  104. Habit what? http://alistapart.com/article/habit-fields
  105. Hack >> Habit field reboot Clean up your work habit field by following the suggestions in the article “Habit Fields” by Jack Cheng. Create your equivalent of a “distraction chair” and move to it when you feel like you are inclined to surf the web, email, Tweet, Facebook, or engage in any other computer-related distraction. When you are ready to work again, come back to your desk. Rinse and repeat until your work habit field is clear again and no longer fuzzy.
  106. Manage time http://www.flickr.com/photos/paolocampioni/2168286027/
  107. Single-task http://www.flickr.com/photos/33498942@N04/6009639079/
  108. “Single-tasking is the new multitasking.” - A Your Brain on Creativity participant
  109. Say NO to Distractions http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideon/6582069/
  110. RescueTime.com
  111. GetConcentrating.com
  112. { Further Resources } Firefox extension: LeechBlock: http://www.proginosko.com/leechblock.html Firefox extension: Idderall: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/ idderall/ Google Chrome extension: Strict Workflow: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/strictworkflow/ Google Chrome extension: StayFocusd: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ stayfocusd/
  113. Hack >> Pomodoro Technique http://www.flickr.com/photos/lucamascaro/4975166968/
  114. Hack >> Airplane mode http://www.flickr.com/photos/pieterouwerkerk/699475144/
  115. Hack >> Pomodoro 2.0 Practice the Pomodoro technique. Do a 30 minute sprint where you turn off all distractions and work for 25 minutes. Before you start your sprint, write down the objective of the sprint. Do the sprint, and at the end of it, take a moment to jot down any challenges encountered, and your end results from the sprint. For your 5 minute break, activate your Alpha brainwaves by either laying down on the floor with your eyes closed, or look at clouds shifting in the sky.
  116. Hack >> Work standing up http://www.flickr.com/photos/rknight/2645099486/
  117. Why? Because http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/sitting-kills/
  118. Hack >> Change environments http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/3475417696/
  119. Generate: Start the flow of ideas http://www.flickr.com/photos/international-festival/3018718331/
  120. Hack >> Shape your micro-environment http://www.flickr.com/photos/info_grrl/6162309101/
  121. Everything is a remix http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4812026355/
  122. Remix inspiration “Mona Lisa” by Paul Giovanopoulos, http://www.giovanopoulos.com/
  123. Hack >> Create constaints http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielsilliman/4489863368/
  124. Get inspired by children http://www.flickr.com/photos/barretthall/3036598475/
  125. From the mind of a 4yo Photo courtesy of Laura Bohill (@LauRARbee)
  126. Generate ideas http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathb/3933087930/
  127. Capture ideas http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosengrant/3637839874/
  128. Embrace disruption Photo: Denise Jacobs
  129. Write them down http://www.flickr.com/photos/caitlinator/2826079915/
  130. Sketch them out http://www.flickr.com/photos/eoze04/4890376021/
  131. Talk them out (& record it) http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/3641402489/
  132. Gather and curate your ideas http://www.flickr.com/photos/gmanviz/3181410714/
  133. Tools to do so Evernote Pinterest.com Delicious.com Flickr.com Trello.com Zootool.com Gimmebar.com Dropr.com Diigo Tumblr Imgspark.com Scrnshots.com Vi.sualize.us Emberapp.com
  134. 3 Innovate & Produce
  135. Do it with others http://www.flickr.com/photos/u-suke/5668302030/
  136. Mo’ people, mo’ ideas http://www.flickr.com/photos/seretuaccidente/147686396/
  137. Immerse yourself in diverse environments http://www.flickr.com/photos/shirinwiniger/3680885289/
  138. Building 20 at MIT
  139. Avoid sameness http://www.flickr.com/photos/dahlstroms/3774973833/
  140. The source of great ideas http://www.flickr.com/photos/librarianavengers/2495352933/
  141. Bring brilliance together http://www.flickr.com/photos/argonne/4436484250/
  142. Create a locus where ideas can mix & mingle http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/7496803638/
  143. Don’t keep them to yourself http://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8127201319/
  144. Invite others to wonder with you http://www.flickr.com/photos/silicongulf/2114492904/
  145. Share ideas http://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/4278466639/
  146. Share mistakes http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilt/26322670/
  147. Hack >> Co-work to collaborate http://www.flickr.com/photos/coffeemick/5106610355/
  148. Hack >> Engage in Parallel Play http://handsfullofgrass.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/img_2123.jpg
  149. Amplify the ideas of others http://www.flickr.com/photos/roland/54381130/
  150. Improv http://www.flickr.com/photos/roel1943/5740295789/
  151. Hack >> Plus it http://www.flickr.com/photos/66568868@N00/6032481145/
  152. The structure
  153. Make your partner look good http://www.flickr.com/photos/31246066@N04/4597640798/
  154. Will connect people beyond the cubicle http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4371000846/
  155. And encourage better teamwork http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/5445603066/
  156. “Creativity is more than a great idea, it’s the determination to see the idea through to fruition.” - Clare Warmke, Idea Revolution
  157. Prototype http://www.flickr.com/photos/mindmob/292609444/
  158. Iterate http://www.flickr.com/photos/deliciousblur/4165405018/
  159. The d.school production-iteration process •  •  •  •  •  •  observe suggest tinker review apply feedback reiterate
  160. The stage is set for Flow http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgeithner/5290115839/
  161. All of the previous steps lead you here: •  Concept in mind: know what you want to achieve and what it looks like •  Practice in place •  Cleared space •  Time carved out and distractions eliminated •  Necessary materials on hand
  162. Epilogue Liberation
  163. Previously http://www.flickr.com/photos/generated/2084287794/
  164. Moving forward http://www.flickr.com/photos/pulpolux/3317141795/
  165. Before http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_g_travels/860951845/
  166. After http://www.flickr.com/photos/visualdoubts/4087935894/
  167. Stepping through them more easily http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/4269399012/
  168. (Re)Gain Creative Confidence http://www.flickr.com/photos/44085287@N05/4055807492/
  169. …which is “…the confidence that, when given a difficult problem, we have a methodology that enables us to come up with a solution that nobody has before.” - David Kelley of Ideo
  170. Ideas are on and poppin’! http://www.flickr.com/photos/7730492@N03/4957946157/
  171. Joyfulness in Work http://www.flickr.com/photos/rvm_71/5011353192/
  172. Turn work into play http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/5392982007/
  173. What you produce is unique
  174. Hack your habits >> Different Results http://starchild07.deviantart.com/art/Brainwaves-44238823
  175. Practicing different habits >> Transform your life
  176. The goal http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/6005503875/
  177. You have the power http://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8216666102/
  178. …And make better things http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/5319988695/
  179. Get your creativity hack on! http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibi/5448158773/
  180. The End…? http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/232100469/
  181. Resources! delicious.com/denisejacobs/getunblocked delicious.com/denisejacobs/unfoldyourbrain delicious.com/denisejacobs/creativityhabit delicious.com/denisejacobs/brainoncreativity Always being updated as I find new relevant articles! “Great Resources” almost daily: @denisejacobs on Twitter
  182. Cover art thanks to Americo Morales AmericoMorales.com
  183. My articles for further reading! netmagazine.com/features/ four-secrets-enhancingcreative-productivity alistapart.com/articles/ reigniting-your-creative-spark/ alistapart.com/articles/ banishing-your-inner-critic/
  184. Want More? Sign up for news on my upcoming book, projects, other announcements and whatnot at DeniseJacobs.com
  185. How to find me on teh Interwebz DeniseJacobs.com  Sign up on my mailing list here! denise@denisejacobs.com twitter.com/denisejacobs facebook.com/denisejacobsdotcom slideshare.net/denisejacobs Photo used with permission: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aarronwalter/4629078087/
  186. Thank you! http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/4759535970/