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Surprising Exercises to Get You Thinking outside the Box

Who would've thought that learning how to think creatively would be so much fun?

One of the most important skills you can have in the business world is to be able to think outside the box. You take the same information that everyone else has and look at it differently, often finding a better way to solve problems and make your business more efficient and profitable. Most people falsely think that you’re either born a creative thinker or not. The truth is creative thinkers intuitively know how to think—and be—outside the box. Not only can this skill become second nature, but anyone can master it using the following three exercises.

For years now people have been asking me to write a book that features my best lessons for adults to learn in becoming productive, fast thinkers. I’m thrilled to finally be sharing with you the good news: it’s finally available! Want a sneak peek? Below are some of my many secrets you’ll read about in The Power of Forgetting: Six Essential Skills to Clear Out Brain Clutter and Become the Sharpest, Smartest You. Take it to heart today. Be smarter tomorrow.

Exercise #1: Alphabetize Adventure…in 5 seconds…

This is one of my favorite habits and I truly believe it’s the best exercise for conditioning the mind to think creatively. Here’s how to do it: First, think of any word or see a word on a magazine cover or billboard (preferably six or so letters). Second, stop looking at the word and just picture it in your mind. Then arrange all the letters in your head so they are in alphabetical order. So, for example, take a word like NUMBER. You would spell it as follows: B-E-M-N-R-U. What makes this mental gymnastics so terrifically boosting to your brain is that you’re forced to use all the information—all the letters—and totally rearrange it in your mind. Try this for five minutes a day, three days a week. Increase the amount of letters in the words you are alphabetizing as you get more proficient. You’ll notice after a while, your mind will be used to looking at things in a different way and you’ll start coming up with ideas that you’ve never thought of before.

Exercise #2: Have a Conversation WITHOUT Using the Letter “E”

This is a fun game to play with a friend or family member, which will automatically flex your brain’s “muscles” and help make you mentally sharper. The object is for you and your friend to carry on a regular conversation without using any word that has the letter E in it. But you must try to make the conversation as normal as possible without any long pauses in between sentences. Example:

Person 1: “What do you want to do now?”

Person 2: “I don’t know, how about lunch. I know of a good fast food joint.”

The reason why this is such a powerful exercise is because your mind is like a human thesaurus. You’re constantly looking for the right words to say so that your sentence makes sense and you are E-free. It’s outside-the-box thinking on steroids, and your brain will feel like you’ve had an incredible workout after just five minutes. And when you get tired of avoiding the letter E, pick another popular letter such as R, S, T, L, A, or N.

Exercise #3: Add Up a Series of One-digit Numbers…FAST!

Adding up small numbers in your head quickly (4+7+9+3+2+2+8+5+8…) compels you to continually change the information that you are having to work with and remember. As you’re adding up the numbers, your grand total constantly changes and to arrive at the next total you have to focus solely on your current total and the next number you are adding. There are very few mental exercises where focus and continually evolving information play such an important part. Which is why this one is so helpful in training the mind to remember essential information while deleting other data or details when they are no longer needed. So the next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store and you’re temped to whip out your cell phone and send a text, why don’t you instead whip out a dollar bill and add up the serial numbers as fast as possible!

Want more tips and best practices to improve your mental performance? Order your copy of my book, The Power of Forgetting, at your favorite retailer today at

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