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How and when to use creative thinking techniques in research

The importance of leisure - don't work all the time!

Creative techniques don't work instantly. What they do is to set the mind thinking, first consciously and then seemingly unconsciously. Then, when thinking about something else, a solution pops into one's mind, seemingly from no-where. The book contains ample examples of this in a research and development setting, and you probably can recall it happening to you after talking a problem over or mulling over it in some way.

General information

So, in order for a creative solution to pop into one's mind, the mind must not be fully occupied with other things. Creativity seems to happen in bed while dropping off to sleep or listening to music or walking or gardening, etc. What this highlights is the importance of taking breaks from work and including leisure activities in one's life.

In other words, do not work all the time!

How creativity can affect timing of work schedules

As creativity relies on solutions popping into one's head at odd times, it cannot be done to order. You have to prepare your mind by using one or more of the creative thinking techniques and then wait for a creative solution to arrive. Unfortunately the waiting causes delays and can play havoc with planning schedules, as there is no way of knowing when the creative solution will strike.

How and when to use creative thinking techniques

In view of the previous two sections, the maxim is to leave as much spare time as possible for tasks which have deadlines. Do not leave them until the last minute. Then try out some creative thinking techniques and indulge yourself in some relaxed leisure activities.

Creative thinking techniques on this website

The following pages give creative thinking techniques which can be useful in research:

© Pat Cryer

* 'Supervisor' is a shorthand for 'research degree supervisor', 'advisor' or 'tutor', and applies to varying extents for all research degrees: PhD, DPhil. MPhil, Prof Doc and even undergraduate and masters' projects. In some countries, notably the USA, a 'supervisor' is known as an 'advisor'.