28. February 2016 · Comments Off on Tips for Tapping into Your Creativity · Categories: creativity · Tags: ,

Waste materials. I have a really hard time with this. I know I need to waste materials in order to practice any sort of craft, especially when it comes to things like experimenting with my Silhouette Cameo and learning to sew. I want everything I do to have a resulting use and purpose. If I’m going to take the time to do it, I want to have something decent to show as a tangible result. But? This really isn’t practical. There need to be “oops” projects and a stash of practice materials.

Don’t push creativity into your free time. Make it a priority and schedule time for it. Oof, this one hits hard! I’ve been trying to schedule craft and blogging time in the evenings after I get home from work. But add in dog-walking, working out, cooking dinner, etc, and before I know it, it’s 10 p.m. and I’m scrambling to finish tomorrow’s post (ahem—that’s exactly what I’m doing now—ahem).

Don’t rush. This one is a direct result of the point above. And I am Oh. So. Guilty. I am constantly thinking of what comes next; check this task off the list so I can keep going, going, going. I am working on slowing down. But it doesn’t come as easy.

Try a different routine. I am an extreme creature of habit. I love schedules. I love to know what’s coming next. But I also know that changing things up can result in a new point of view. And I should make a more concerted effort to shake my usual routine and try something differently.

Relax and get out of your own head. Enough said here.
Create for yourself. Everything else will fall into place. Oh my golly, this is such a good mantra. Why do humans feel it necessarily to constantly compare themselves to others? I do a lot of self-comparing. Maybe not aloud (maybe just aloud to Tom), but definitely inside my own head. I need to shut that voice down.

Do. Not. Multi-task. This is by far the hardest habit to break! Modern technology makes it SO hard to focus for any period of time, whether it’s 15 minutes or 5 hours. I’m drawn to the idea of shutting down my phone for an afternoon and seeing where life takes me. Or maybe a whole weekend!

15. February 2016 · Comments Off on 6 Tips to Help Ignite Your Creativity and Increase Your Success · Categories: creativity · Tags:

The list of 6 pointers below which I’ve compiled from various successful people will help ignite your creativity and re-charge your motivation:

Try something new for 30 days
This is a great suggestion which I recently heard in a presentation from Matt Cutts who is a search optimization engineer at google. Trying something new for a month is a fantastic way to re-build your creativity and whet your curiosity. This can also help you discover the thing that you love doing in case you weren’t sure what it was to begin with.
In terms of the Internet there are countless of free and premium courses and products available in which you can learn or discover a new skill which you can use to enhance your creativity.
Do what you love
People who make a living from doing what they love instantly have a head-start on those who hate or are indifferent to their jobs. Apart from the fact that you feel good doing what you love, you also have no negative baggage which comes from the stress and resentment of doing something you don’t like.
If you don’t know what you love doing, then maybe applying point 1 above might help you.
Keep your goals to yourself – at least in the beginning
Sometimes when you decide to muster up the courage to try something new it’s a good idea to keep your goals a secret initially. This may sound counter-intuitive because most people think that by making their intentions known they can increase their visibility and hence their chances of success because somebody out there might offer some help. Well that’s true to an extent but in a lot of cases the people you might be sharing your goals with might not have the same enthusiasm and mindset as you, and quite often they will try to talk you out of your “crazy ideas” and tell you that it’s just too hard.
Therefore, unless you’re certain that you are talking to people with a similar attitude as yours, hold on to your goals and plans until you’ve put them into practice.
Be curious
When you start digging deeper into something out of curiosity, you usually find that not only do you enhance your knowledge about that thing, but sometimes you might come up with creative ideas which you would never have thought of if you hadn’t indulged your curiosity.
So next time you are reading or watching a tutorial about how to do something for your blog, why not delve deeper and experiment with what you’ve learnt and see what happens.
Improve
Improving yourself both in terms of knowledge and in general can only serve to benefit you and those around you. Most of us are increasingly becoming aware of the huge economic changes sweeping the world’s societies in terms of employment and what it means to be financially secure. Having a regular job for 20, 30 or 50 years until you retire is a thing of the past. The new reality is that people who can re-skill quickly and who regularly add to their existing skills will be better off in today’s economic climate.
Focus
The ability to focus determines the outcome of the task you are trying to accomplish. Therefore whenever you set yourself a task, see it through to completion by doing regular highly focused little chunks at a time. Doing small manageable chunks can make the highest mountain seems like a mole hill.

08. February 2016 · Comments Off on 12 Unusual Ways To Spur Creativity During Meetings · Categories: creativity · Tags: , , ,

Ask Your Team To Think Fast!

Encourage thinking on your feet, so every meeting typically includes a spur of the moment prompt, where each person quickly throws out an idea that comes to mind. Crazy is OK.

We then document these and decide which to go deeper on as a group. Don’t focus on what isn’t possible or what’s hard; rather, focus on how we can solve it. Execution is a function of a decision to commit to a project, then the discipline to follow through.

We record our actions and the teammate briefs the team weekly until complete. This keeps us all accountable to one another.

Show Gratitude
In order to get the most out of my team for a brainstorming session, we ask everyone to reach out via phone to someone they are grateful towards prior to the session. When we start the meeting, everyone comes in with a positive and open mind. The results are spectacular.

Ask For The Worst Idea In The Room
When creativity is at a standstill or a project is particularly difficult, I like to challenge our team members to come up with the WORST idea possible. Sometimes we even make it a competition, trying to one-up each other with even more ridiculous and off-the-wall ideas.

This is a great way to infuse fun and laughter in to what might otherwise be a stressful and tedious meeting. Usually after a few minutes of sharing terrible ideas, someone will have a breakthrough. In fact, some of the most successful ideas can be re-imagined versions of the off-the-wall ideas someone posed just minutes earlier.

At the end of every brainstorming meeting, we assign next steps, go around the room to ensure everyone knows her individual follow-ups, and set clear next steps for regrouping.

Know Your Team
One thing that helps to spur creativity is to have your team take a personality trait test and share their test results amongst their peers at a meeting. It’s a fun and different way of helping to foster a deeper understanding about each team member that will incite new and more effective/creative ways to think collectively.

Make It A Team Effort
To spur creativity, we play “Yes… and….” For a given problem each team member provides a solution that is not to be judged by anyone. Instead, another team says, “Yes I like this idea because…. and we can also….”

Slowly the team will loosen up and come out with a long list of creative approaches. Of course, not all will be practical in the end. However, some of the most creative solutions can be gathered this way. Once we pick our way to go, we use transparency of progress as a way to create accountability.

Incorporate Humor
Humor is brain juice. Dopamine and endorphins keeps tension low, morale high, and bring people toward a state of engagement. Everything in a brainstorm session should be fair game for making FUN of. Bring people into the room who can make people laugh.

Extra credit points for having Play-Doh and other fun tactile objects that stimulate various regions of the brain. Also make sure people are fed. Forming new ideas takes up a lot of chemical resources.

Know When To Stop
Sometimes there’s only one right answer to a creative conundrum, from how the trade show booth should look to the headline and font for the new campaign. The simple, elegant, smart choice wins, and often the best answer comes up early on because it didn’t require too much thinking.

“Let’s feature our customers” makes perfect sense for a barbershop looking to deepen its local roots. But the real creative work begins in fleshing out the look, feel and execution of the campaign.

Take A Walk
When I want to get the creative juices flowing on our team, we go for a walk. We call these “walkies,” where we go for 15 minutes and talk about life. Generally, the conversation always goes back to work.

There is something about nature that spurs a person to be more creative. It will help you see the world better. I find that being healthy and alert will always boost up the creative side in people as well.

Provide Special Incentives
We value the creativity of our employees in routine brainstorming sessions and always encourage them to think “outside the box.” To show our appreciation for their creativity and implementation of a successful project, we reward them with special incentives like a weekend getaway.

Showcase Your Ideas
Our office has a massive whiteboard that we use to brainstorm and stay focused. Being able to walk into the office everyday and see your ideas in front of you is a constant reminder of what needs to get done. It is definitely an accomplishment to be able to erase something when it has been completed.

Don’t Brainstorm
Brainstorming sessions with “no bad ideas” and “freedom of thought” suffer from the paradox of choice. The participants aren’t given specific enough goals or parameters and often don’t come up with the most effective ideas.

In place of a brainstorming session, we break each task down into very specific areas and have each team or individual attack each idea with a purpose. This gives them not only a starting location, but also a direction, and produces great results when combined with other teams/individuals who are given different tasks and directions.

Bring Wine—And Demand Results
Every Friday my team gets together for what we call the “Eatin’ Meetin’.” This is our time to relax, throw around ideas and talk about our deliverables for the week. Everyone eats cheese, drinks wine and brainstorms.

When someone throws out an idea and it’s well received, we simply talk about how we can make it happen and who can lend a hand. And that becomes their deliverable to report on for the next Eatin’ Meetin’.

If it’s a new social tactic, they automatically know that I’ll want to see numbers. If it’s a new content idea, they automatically know I’ll want to know if the client liked and approved the piece. It’s understood that even the most exciting, cool idea will need results.

01. February 2016 · Comments Off on 7 Creative Tips for Learning a Language · Categories: creativity

Liven things up Nothing’s better to keep up your motivation than some real-life activities that use the language you are learning and show off its culture at the same time. Cooking classes are a good option for the food enthusiast as frying up gastronomic delicacies means you’ll learn your fruit and vegetable words and take home some target language recipes to boot (the best kind of homework).

Get starry eyed Whether you’re into astrology or not, once you do your research you’ll find that most cultures have their own take on predicting the future and finding magic in the signs and symbols of the world. Sign up for a daily horoscope for the chance to learn a special set of terms that can come in handy next time you offer up your palm for a reading. If you don’t like looking at the sky try checking out the local stars and celebrity gossip scene instead to figure out who makes your target language’s culture turn ‘round.

Follow the leaders So much of what we learn when we study a new language revolves around the country or countries where it is spoken. References to politics and government are hard to get around when you meet native speakers and you don’t want to find yourself unarmed next time cocktail party conversation strikes. So, find a few commentators or leaders to follow on Twitter. It is a great, low-key way to keep the political section of the paper at bay and give your statesmenship lingo a work-out.

Laugh it up Comic books, illustrated stories and cartoons are a fun way to keep learning light and reduce the target language text load for weary eyes. Plus, the images help you plant lasting seeds of memory as researchers say humor opens up cognitive doors and lets in the learning light.

Sing yourself silly Songs are a perfect way to internalize the sounds and rhythms of the language you are learning and memorizing the lyrics goes a long way in impressing hosts when you lift a glass to cheers at your next karaoke gig.

Round up some good reads There’s certainly more to language than text book reading so figure out what you like to read, whether it’s the sports section, Sunday travel magazine or daily tips and tricks for going green, and use a language reading suggestion app like Lingua.ly to find real and engaging online content that’s sort-able by interest category and pitched at your unique learning level.

Add some bling to your words Vocabulary has come a long way since the black and white textbook lists of yesteryear. These days digital flashcards exist in all shapes and sizes and let you add images, audio and even example sentences to help you make dynamic memories. With so many stimulating resources to get your cognitive juices flowing, learners have no excuse for long lists filled with parts of speech and flat definitions.