17 Left-brain exercises for creative people

Left-brain exercises for creative peopleMost creative people are right brained and frankly, sometimes we work the right half of our brains way too hard. Being “right-brained” means we like to think outside the box, frequently disregard logic, and typically hate subjects like math and spelling. But researchers have noted that the brain works more efficiently if we not only work the side that is dominant for us, but spend some time working the less dominant parts. Therefore, the following are some ideas to help creative people, like you and me, exercise the left side of our brains without entirely wasting time.

Code a web site (1)

Well, here’s an obvious one. What more can a designer ask for than an activity where he gets to first use the right side of his brain (designing the web page in Photoshop or any other design program) and then carry out the task using his left brain (code the site using XHTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, etc.) Not only will this help your brain to be more well-rounded, but you will also possess a very valuable skill as a designer once you have started to master the art of coding a web site that not only looks good but also validates according to standards.

Do some writing (2)

One of the best things you can do to exercise your left brain is to practice your writing, spelling, and word composition. This not only helps you exercise your left brain, but also makes you a more effective communicator. Below are some ideas that you can try to help get the writing habit started. (And believe me, once you start, you only get more and more efficient at it.)

  • Keep a daily journal of your activities. (3) Whether online or in a notebook, write what’s been on your mind that day.
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    Write for a blog. (4) You can either start your own blog or write for someone else’s blog. Either way, knowing that other people will be reading what you write is good motivation to sharpen your spelling and grammar skills. (PS. If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to agree.)

  • Write for a magazine or newspaper. (5) Printed editorials are frequently looking for guest authors and outside opinions. Contact a local newspaper or magazine and ask if you can submit work for them to review. If you are still in school, do the same with your school newspaper.
  • Leave meaningful comments on blogs and other sites. (6) While this isn’t heavy-duty writing, a little writing each day by posting comments on other web sites can be a great way to increase your communication-via-writing skills.
  • Use twitter. (7) Why do I suggest twitter above any other social media service? Because twitter limits you to 140 characters. This means you have to force yourself to be concise and use explicative words to get your message across. (PS. you can follow me on twitter here.)
  • What else would you add to the list of writing opportunities?

Crunch some numbers (8)

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Besides writing and spelling, math and numbers are a great way to exercise the left side of our brain. For some this might come easier than for others, but keep at it and you’ll find yourself getting better. So what math can a creative do?

  • Consider a web designer. He can build his sites according to a grid and calculate the correct measurements to make it looks just right. (9)
  • How about an advertiser? He can look into the media strategy side of things. Learn about media buying and budgets. (10)
  • Freelance designers: You crunch numbers at least once a month when you bill your clients and pay your bills. (11)

There are plenty of opportunities to do math. You simply have to consider your options. While it may not be as fun as designing a poster or web site, remember: it will help you be more well-rounded.

Master a new skill (12)

Another tip is to master a new skill (preferably one that includes deductive reasoning). What skills require you to use deductive or logical reasoning? How about learning a new language,(13) mastering a difficult tutorial online,(14) or finding something entirely new to add to your skill set.

Do a word or number puzzle (15)

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I know I’m about ten years behind the times but, after years of not understanding the point behind them, I recently got addicted to Sudoku puzzles.(16) If you’ve never tried one, give it a shot. These little puzzles allow me to escape the creative overload I deal with on an almost daily basis and find refuge in logical, rational, deductive thinking. If you enjoy crossword puzzles, give them a shot. Whatever you prefer, carry around small sheet of paper with some puzzles on it or a book in your bag. When you feel a creative brain-freeze coming on, whip out the book and give your right brain a break.

I think you’ll find you’re more creative after a 15-minute puzzle break. It’s worked for me.

Read a book (or read at all) (17)

As creatives we tend to get wrapped up in the extensive design showcases, inspiration galleries, and complicated design tutorials. While these are all fine and useful–even necessary to a creative mind–it should not constitute the bulk of our reading or study. Make sure to read the longer articles (like this one), pick up a book every once and while, or read a magazine or newspaper.

We are a generation of skimming content and it is weakening our left brains. You can even read something on your preferred topic such as web design, graphic design, advertising or copy writing. The key is that you read instead of skim.

That’s about it

These are just a few ideas I have been able to come up with in order to help my brain be more well-balanced. I have found that as I have tried a few of these things out, the creative juices just flow more easily. What other tips can you offer for all of us to enjoy?

About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

Comments

  1. These are some good ideas. I actually enjoy most of these activities except the puzzles – somehow I get frustrated and leave them!

  2. Reading “Under the Dome” right now and puzzles are great!

  3. Wow, very cool idea Preston! I tend to be more left brain dominate. Got any good ideas for me to exercise my left side?

  4. Good Post :)

  5. Sudoku is a great way to exercise the mind.

  6. Awesome tricks!
    Thankyu!

    I hate math but i love learning new languages. I’ll try your math approach to get more my brain movin’.

  7. Well, I used to think that ” my right-brained” qualities were defects, I just figured out yesterday about this right\left brained issues, I’ll start working on it, specifically on my communication skills, thank you :)

  8. You are spectacular, thanks for this post. My right brain domintes my life and now want to give my left brain lead. A good maths tip is to count up in 17′s and see how far you get. Then you can try other numbers on a different day.

  9. Sachin Patel says:

    Thanks a lot preston for this post. It’s Awesome. :)

  10. Mark Masson says:

    I was 16 when I moved to Sweden and got into an international school. I knew some English before and although I improved a lot after a year, I was really worried about my accent. So I started learning about the brain, the difference between two hemispheres and how they function. Later I figured out that my right hemisphere dominates the left side and that I have to practice on the left side to get better in language. It actually make sense! Before I was better in subjects like art and music but now that do Sudoku puzzles, more math exercise, and reading more books I pick up the accent much easier and speak more fluently than before! Thanks to the person who posted this. It really helped! :)

  11. all these ideas are great..i have been tryin to work on my left brain…i am bad at spelling,but i used to write stories(!!??its not a left brain thing) when was young but never after that…its been very hard to survive in my career,since i am in a profession(life science and technology) ,where i need to read a lot…but these hav been very hard days…but thanks for all these suggestions ….this ll help me better…

  12. Do these activities help when it comes to Practical Thinking.? I have a good imagination and
    i have a logical reasoning, but im a little slow and i suck a being and thinking practically..Any
    suggestions for me?? is reading a good exercise for me, cause’ i hate reading….

  13. This might helped me for my spoken English so I speak Spanish and I came up with a sort of “juggling numbers”, you have to do it everything on your mind. Just count 1 2 3 4 then start on 2 and say 2 3 4 5 then on 3 and say 3 4 5 6, its so difficult at the beginning and its fun when you start realizing that its not that easy. Do it until the number you can.

  14. Oh I almost forgot you have to count the ‘juggling number game” a bit faster each an every time.

  15. I am such a right side dominate, it seriously creates problems for me in school. In addition, I am ADD. I find it extremely hard to read chapters entirely but instead I skim. Skimming is helpful, but sometimes I miss something important. I am getting better when skimming, I look at the important terms of what I should be learning. I find text books put extra words in the books to make it seem more weighty. I want to read to the point of the text book, and no extra fluff. When there is so much fluff in a text book, I shut off and start to skim. When reading a good mystery book I read every single word. If the book is very good writing visional scenes and people, I feel like I am there with the characters and in the scenes.

    I am not very good at writing because I have to think of different words, and the sentence structure drives me up the wall. My mind jumps around and I write jumpy. Often I miss words in a sentence. In college, if I have a requirement to write a 4-page paper, it can take me sometimes up to 6 hours. I review the paper and I see missing words, or I think the sentence doesn’t make any sense so I reword, and before I know it I am redoing the paper again. It is exhausting to me.
    What really is maddening is when I can only write 4 pages..what?? I can go on and on and on. The teachers do not like that. I have had teachers roll his/hers eyes at me when they see I have written a book. Geezz, if they only knew I had cut down the paper to the bare bones..at least I feel that way.

    What is worse is to have a specific topic and no free play when writing a paper. I feel like I am in a box if I have to write a topic using journals and I can’t write my own opinion. It is always nice when I am required to write a paper, in a certain area- but a broad area- and write a review of the paper and my opinion of article. I like to compare and contrast papers.
    Mostly, I am lazy or unmotivated. If I have a paper that is due on a Wednesday, I will write the paper at 2am on Wednesday and turn in at 8am. I am always late walking into the room, dead tired, and handing in the paper. Ugh.

  16. yeah, guess i’ll start the exercise right here by leaving this comment on this post.
    thank you very much.
    catarina

  17. just stumbled across this blog…..you do realise that the left brain right brain theory was been debunked years ago…..but beyond that how could any of you believe this in the first place? What about authors of fiction? for example? according to the left brain right brain theory, this should not even be possible. Like lifting up a chair well you are still sitting in it, or walking backwards and forward at the same time…

  18. I’ll start by leaving a comment here, thanks for this post.

  19. Nice article. It made an interesting read. I’ll start with learning a new language and possibly learning to create a website as well.

  20. This is all wrong, completely and utterly wrong, counter intuitive and neurologically incorrect.
    As far as all the responses, I have to wonder if these are actual people or the author himself. Because, I simply can not believe (too depressing) that people actually believe this kind of thing.
    Both halves of the brain work in unison, to be creative or logical you need to use both sides of your brain.
    As for William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling, would you say that these people are “creatives” ? (sigh)
    But wait! MY GOD! They are writers!!!! But, I thought writing, spelling, reading and language was a left brain trait and not for “creatives”! AND…they have to construct a plot…well, gee that sounds a bit like math.

    What about architects, computer animators, video game design?….I think you see where I am going with this. These are all obvious examples to nail my point home.
    The bottom line is that creativity is not isolated within “artistic” endeavors such as writing and painting.
    Anyways, do not take my word for it, this has been totally debunked science. Do a little research.

    • Hi Jonny,

      Welcome to GDB – here we are a community of freelancers, creatives, and peers who are free to share their opinions in a respectful, mature, and professional manner. We prefer to rise above the frequent bashing, name-calling, and negativity commonly found on personal social media outlets. While we love discussion, respect your views, and encourage you to share your opinion, please refrain from lowering yourself to the standards set in non-professional arenas.

      Thanks!

      • Thanks for the reply, although I respectably disagree with your opinion that what I wrote was unprofessional; you see the internet is full of very impressionable individuals and it would behoove the writer to do some basic research before posting his ideas about neuroscience.

        It is the responsible thing to do.

        The left brain right brain concept has been debunked several times over the years and in point of fact was never considered a valid notion by the neuroscience community.
        A quick rudimentary search on the internet would reveal this.

        The point I was trying to make is this:

        Creativity is not isolated to visual arts. Math is creative, language is creative – (see: writing poetry or fiction.)

        So, the idea that a “creative” should force themselves to “read a book or read at all” does not really make any sense, does it?

        The idea that math is uncreative is a completely ignorant notion. Forget about actual examples of creative math, quadrilaterals problem solving and so on. Math is creative. Mathematicians are creative. And art is mathematical. Anyone who has been to art school and studied art composition and the golden mean would understand this.

        Did I mention musicians? Playing and writing music is a heavily mathematical process but also creative.

        I mentioned writers earlier: A writer uses words to paint pictures in the readers mind, I think we can agree on that analogy – words + creativity. When a writer creates a story, generally there is plot. The creation of a plot is a creative and mathematical process.

        EVERYONE uses both halves of their brains at the same time, all the time in everything we do.

        • Jonny,

          Well written – I had no objections to your point, just the tone with which you used to present it. Your reply here is exactly the type of discussion we encourage here at GDB!

          Thanks!

          April

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