Brain Games: Elbie or Arbie?

Often, people either think they're creative or they're not. And it is true that people tend to be more "left-brain" or "right-brain." Put very simplistically, if you're a left-brainer, you tend to be more organized, conservative, even a tad rigid. If you're a right-brainer, you might consider yourself creative because you like arty stuff, you reject systems and schedules, and you also might come across a bit harebrained and never actually get around to creating the masterpieces you so desperately want to produce.

What to do? Well, you can change your left-brain ratio, drawing on your weaker side to help out your stronger side. That is, if you're more right-brain, beef up your left-brain organizing skills and time management to schedule time to actually write or paint. If you're more left-brain, learn from your creative friends to let your hair down and throw paint at the canvas or just write whatever comes to mind. Your left-brain side can edit it later, if needed.

Where do you fall? The book "Organizing for the Creative Person" (Three Rivers Press, 1993, $14.95) says "Elbies" (lefties) and "Arbies" (righties) tend to have the following characteristics.


  • Systematic
  • Analytical
  • Planners
  • Likes goals and actions
  • Speak well
  • Practical
  • Humorless
  • Not cluttered
  • Precise
  • Controlling
  • Formal
  • Linear
  • Puts stuff away


  • Nonverbal
  • Abstract
  • Holistic
  • Simultaneous actions
  • Unlimited
  • Global
  • Flexible
  • Sensual
  • Scattered
  • Metaphorical
  • Casual
  • Distractible
  • Surrounded by clutter


Well-Balanced Thinking: Successful Arbies tend to schedule time and organize tasks. Creative Elbies allow themselves space to think outside the box.

TEST: It's not about how much stuff you have—Elbies can be materialistic stuff lovers, too—it's about how you organize and present it.

TEST: Look in your bathroom. Elbies tend to have neat toothpaste tubes; Arbies not so much. But they can change. (And it could save your marriage.)


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