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FOUR WAYS TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

You sit down to work but you just feel, well, stuck. Breathe and reboot: These strategies will help you hit the mental reset button and ignite your imaginative thinking whether you're an ad copywriter or an accountant:

Switch Gears
Letting your mind wander may improve mental performance according to a study in Psychological Science. Researchers asked a group of men and women to take a 12-minute break from a creative-thinking problem; those who spent their downtime on an undemanding task that let their minds roam scored better than those who didn't get a break or who spent the free time quietly resting.

Get Your Heart Up
Sweat now, brainstorm later. College students asked to take creative thinking tests after doing 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity like jogging, swimming, and stair climbing, scored higher and exhibited more innovative potential than when they didn't exercise possibly because of the way exercise affects the brain or increase self-esteem. The brain boost lasted for two hours.

Remember: There Are No Bad Ideas
Do you hold in your most out-there suggestions, thinking, "That will sound stupid?" There's reason to just spitball; research from the fields of business and engineering suggests that throwing out lots of ideas that are all over the place quality-wise, some bad and some just okay, makes you more likely to eventually land on a stroke of brilliance.

Add Background Noise
Having a bit of ambient noise may help stimulate inventive thinking more effectively than doing work in a quiet environment, according to a study in Journal of Consumer Research. The noise level to aim for is a moderate 70 decibels think working in your neighborhood cafe or coffee shop. Too much noise, though, can hamper creativity.