creativity en-US Boost Your Creativity: 9 Surprising Ways to Generate New Ideas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/boost-your-creativity-9-surprising-ways-to-generate-new-ideas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="idea" title="idea" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you&#39;re solving a problem at work, figuring out how to remodel your home, or trying to come up with something new to fix for dinner, you&#39;d probably have an easier time if you had access to better ideas. Creativity is the art and science of generating these sorts of ideas, and nearly everyone wants to be more creative. (See also: <a href="">20+ Ways to Boost Creativity</a>)</p> <p>Improving creativity often involves knowing how your brain works best and utilizing techniques in your thinking that will allow access to your rich, most creative mindspace. While some aspects of creative thinking are different for everyone, many depend on how the brain itself works. If you&#39;re not sure how to jumpstart your creativity, try applying some of the brain hacks below.</p> <h2>1. Relax!</h2> <p>Creativity requires dopamine. The more dopamine we have in our systems, <a href="">the more creative we will be</a>, and the better the ideas we will have. Dopamine is associated with activities that make us feel happy, full, and rested, like showering, exercising, sleeping, etc. That&#39;s why we often find that we have our best ideas in unexpected places&nbsp;&mdash; because those are the places where our brains are relaxing. (See also: <a href="">Free Videos That Help You Relax</a>)</p> <h2>2. Get Distracted</h2> <p>Along with relaxation, <a href="">distraction often produces some of our best ideas</a>. We often stew on the problems we&#39;re trying to find solutions for. When we don&#39;t come up with an answer, we walk away to do something else. And that is when we find the solution. New ideas often need an incubation period, where the connections being made in your subconscious can leap into your conscious brain. If you&#39;ve been working on a problem for a while, try doing something else for a bit.</p> <h2>3. Let Your Brain Get Tired</h2> <p><a href="">When your brain is tired, it doesn&#39;t filter things as well</a>. One result is that in this less focused, less sharp state, our brains are free to room and make new connections. Since a huge part of having new ideas is simply letting your old ideas connect in new ways, this gives them the chance to do just that. So, if you&#39;re an early bird, try looking for new ideas at night. If you&#39;re a night owl, get up early to generate new ideas. (See also: <a href="">5 Things to Do in the Morning</a>)</p> <h2>3. Create a Safe Place to Think</h2> <p>Your creativity, according to comedian John Cleese, is something like a tortoise. Before it really comes out to play, <a href="">it pokes out its nose to see if the environment is safe</a>. We talked about relaxing above, but it also helps to give yourself a certain time slot in the day where you try to think creatively, so your tortoise brain knows it&#39;s safe to come out. You can also make your workspace a friendly, inviting place where you feel happy to lure the tortoise into the open. (See also: <a href="">10 Ways to Be Happier</a>)</p> <h2>4. Deprive Your Senses</h2> <p>Some people find that <a href="">sensory deprivation helps them think more creatively</a>. When you deprive yourself of all the sensory input you&#39;re normally getting and processing, your brain can use that energy to generate new ideas. While a sensory deprivation chamber is the best way to do this, simply dimming the lights and working at a time and place where noise won&#39;t distract you can help you generate more ideas. Since vision is your dominant sense, shutting that off can be the most effective in generating more brain power for fresh ideas.</p> <h2>5. Get Warm</h2> <p>If sensory deprivation isn&#39;t your thing, or isn&#39;t possible for you, then at least make sure you&#39;re warm enough. Being warm makes us happy, which produces dopamine. As mentioned above, more dopamine means more creativity, which means more great ideas. What&#39;s warm for one person may be cold for another, though, so you may have to compromise on this to optimize creativity for everyone in your workspace. (See also: <a href="">How to Be Happier and More Likeable at Work</a>)</p> <h2>7. Don&#39;t Fear Bad Ideas</h2> <p>Being afraid of bad ideas can paralyze us and keep us from thinking up new ideas in general. When we fear bad ideas, and there&#39;s no way to tell if our next idea will be great or terrible, we tend to stop thinking up new ideas in general. Instead, <a href="">we can let our new ideas come as they may</a>, knowing that we can discard the bad ones and keep the good ones. This way, we&#39;ll generate more great ideas than we will when we fear the bad ones.</p> <h2>8. Let It Sit</h2> <p>Sometimes, we wonder how to tell the difference between a good idea and a bad one. We don&#39;t just fear having bad ideas, but not realizing that one is bad and investing ourselves in it before realizing our mistake. One sure way to determine which of our ideas is great is <a href="">to simply let them sit</a>. Take a vacation. Walk away. Go do something else. When you come back to the problem, you&#39;ll often find that your brain has sorted your ideas and determined which ones are more likely to be worth following up on.</p> <h2>9. Meditate</h2> <p>These days, I sometimes feel like meditation is supposed to be the cure for everything. However, <a href="">a recent study out of the Netherlands</a> shows that people who meditate and then are given creative tasks perform better than those who are given the tasks without the meditation time before. Meditation seems to predispose the brain to generating ideas, possibly by helping it relax, or by inducing mental states where ideas can connect.</p> <p><em>When it comes to generating great ideas, what works for you?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Boost Your Creativity: 9 Surprising Ways to Generate New Ideas" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips brain hacks creativity ideas Tue, 31 Dec 2013 12:19:39 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1103116 at 10 Places to Go for Inspiration <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-places-to-go-for-inspiration" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman jumping in field" title="woman jumping in field" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Inspiration comes to people differently. With the internet (ahem, <a href="">Buzzfeed</a>), there are tons of inspirational <a href="">quotes</a> and <a href="">stories</a>, but for me, physical locations are often more inspirational than memes. (See also: <a href="">8 Quotes to Inspire Your Dream Career</a>)</p> <p>It usually all boils down to what your interests are, or what you&#39;re struggling with in the first place. Below are the 10 places that inspire me, but I&#39;m sure there will be an overlap in your own lives.</p> <h2>1. Live Music</h2> <p>I work at a music venue sporadically, and live music is simply the best. From seeing music in a small, intimate setting or in a large arena, you&#39;re able to see a musician really dig deep into what they&#39;re playing. Their love for what they do always reminds me that we should love what we do for a living as well.</p> <p>My father loves jazz, and the live experience of improvisational jazz can&#39;t be topped by recorded music. It&#39;s freeing, and you don&#39;t know what could happen next. In college, I met almost all of my friends through music, whether they played it or enjoyed it as equally as much as me. In fact, it was a friend I met through <a href="">one specific band</a>&#39;s (Warning: Autostart Music) many live performances who then inspired me to move to New York and ultimately shaped my destiny.</p> <h2>2. Comedy Clubs</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="height:303px; width:605px" /></p> <p>When I moved to New York, I met quite a few comedians and improvisers. I&#39;ve seen some of the funniest people alive today perform comedy, and it&#39;s amazing to see how quick their minds work and how they can recall the slightest detail. Also, laughter allows you to steer your mind in a different direction, so you distract yourself long enough to work out an issue. It&#39;s also nice to hear a stand-up comedian <a href="">make fun of something</a> that&#39;s been on your mind lately. Having people find the humor in sometimes difficult situations can help you move on.</p> <h2>3. Public Parks</h2> <p>Sit on a bench, play on the swingset, or just stroll around. Public parks are often filled with children and watching them smile, share toys, or ride a slide 50 times because it&#39;s just as fun the last time as it was the first time is uplifting. Children take joy in the little things, and it&#39;s a nice reminder that we should too. Take a journal with you and write down random thoughts or observations. Life is short, and being happy and having fun every day is important.</p> <h2>4. Nature</h2> <p>Find a trail to hike or bike. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds as you go. There are no car horns or televisions on those trails, just the blowing wind and crunching leaves. Or if you live near a beach, head down to the shore for a few hours and lay in the sun, taking in the crash of the waves and the smell of sea salt. The ocean <a href="">refreshes itself</a>, so let it refresh you. And don&#39;t think nature is just for art &mdash; nature has influenced quite a few <a href="">tech geeks as well</a>, so you never know. (See also: <a href="">Over 50 Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun</a>)</p> <h2>5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles</h2> <p>You have nothing but time while in transit, and the momentum helps to get your juices flowing. While traveling, I&#39;ve always had the ability to completely clear my head and focus. I&#39;ve written some of my best stories with the unlikely aid of leg cramps and exhaustion. Use your time wisely and charge up your laptop or don&#39;t forget a pen. And if you&#39;re worried about anyone reading what you write, who cares&hellip; it&#39;s all worth it in the end. (See also: <a href="">6 Ways to Get More Done on a Plane</a>)</p> <h2>6. Bookstores and Libraries</h2> <p>Books themselves are, of course, often inspiring. Often when I read a book, I think like the author and pick up on their writing style. But I love diving into one piece of literature and a chapter later reading another piece of literature. I sit on the floor surrounded by books, reading everything at once.</p> <p>Go through different sections and topics &mdash; you might be surprised at what might pique your interest, especially books from different time periods (both fiction and nonfiction). After all, history can be a great source of inspiration. We constantly learn from the past to shape our future.</p> <h2>7. The Gym</h2> <p>Exercising is the perfect way to <a href="">unwind and relax</a>. It&#39;s also the perfect way to think about things you might be pushing away because you can&#39;t make a decision or don&#39;t know what you want. Yoga helps me meditate and plan things out, and I find that the grueling task of spin class helps me to refocus my energy and <a href="">teaches me self-discipline</a>. You go hard in spinning classes, and there is no room for complaining. The stress relief will make you feel better and really get you moving both mentally and physically. (See also: <a href="">20 Really Cheap Ways to Relieve Stress</a>)</p> <h2>8. Flea Markets and Thrift Stores</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="height:303px; width:605px" /></p> <p>As they say, one man&#39;s junk is another man&#39;s treasure. Browsing around flea markets and thrift stores is a great way to get inspired by the past.</p> <p>I have a number of friends who are excellent &quot;pickers,&quot; and when they buy an item that is slightly used, they&#39;re instantly ready to go to work on it or use it to change their entire motif. Looking at something worn and run down and creating something beautiful from it is inspiration at work. For instance, my friend used thrift stores and flea markets to style her wedding. It was cheaper, and she felt more of a connection with the items because they were made or improved by her own hands. In the end, working on her wedding inspired her to pursue a career in styling weddings and photo shoots.</p> <h2>9. Dreaming/My Bed</h2> <p>Yes, my own brain is my inspiration. I&#39;m often described as random, mainly because my brain goes from one totally inane topic to another. Therefore, my dreams do, too. Most of the time it&#39;s my brain working something out for me, whether it be a problem I need to solve or an issue I need to address. My dreams are also <a href="">vivid and creative</a>, which leads to imaginative storytelling. And sometimes at lunch I take a power nap so I can refocus myself, as <a href="">Thomas Edison</a> did. A nap hasn&#39;t led me to an invention like the light bulb, but it has helped me sort out issues for clients.</p> <h2>10. Restaurants and Bars</h2> <p>Eating and drinking with friends is a great source of inspiration for me. Discussing issues with a friend and sharing personal experiences makes me think of the problem in a completely different light. Getting away, having a drink or two, and relaxing makes me focus on the big picture, rather than being stuck on one problem. It also gives me new perspective on the issue because I&#39;m able to step away and come back to it later.</p> <p><em>What places serve as your inspiration?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Places to Go for Inspiration" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jennifer Holder</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development Productivity creativity ideas inspiration Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:24:03 +0000 Jennifer Holder 1028387 at 90 Free Activities to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/90-free-activities-to-get-your-creative-juices-flowing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="balloons" title="balloons" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all get stuck in a rut, which gets frustrating when you're looking for inspiration. Instead of sitting and stewing, get your creative juices flowing with free activities that will motivate and inspire. Here are 90 basically free activities, from heading to a local art gallery to walking through open houses, that are guaranteed to motivate.</p> <p><a href="">RELATED: 5 Reasons Why You're Not Motivated</a></p> <ol> <li>Head to your local library and check out a book on a subject you're not familiar with.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go on a nature walk and collect five things that are beautiful.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Get out your old photographs and take a look at your past, remembering special moments that were important to you.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pick up a pencil or pen and sketch without worrying if you're a good artist. The process is more important than the product.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Grab a cookbook and attempt a recipe you've never made before. Invite friends over for an impromptu dinner party and share the dish.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn how to <a href="">arrange flowers</a> into a beautiful display.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Keep a dream journal and pick up a dream analysis book from the library to learn more about your sleeping brain.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Tap into your inner child and head to the closest park and swing on the swings. Along with being fun, pumping those legs will get you thinking in a different way.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Upcycle</a> something you're planning on tossing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Volunteer your time at a local animal shelter, elder community, or homeless shelter.</li> </ol> <p>Read on for more motivating ideas.</p> <ol start="11"> <li>Find out when the closest art museum offers free admission and make a date to visit. Spend time walking through the displays and taking notes on your favorite works of art.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Join <a href="">Instagram</a> and explore manipulating your pictures and sharing with friends.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do a crossword puzzle.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go to a poetry reading and then try writing your own verse.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Fold the best paper airplane.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Download a <a href="">free iPhone app</a> and check it out.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Head to an empty bench at the park and eavesdrop. Yes, not socially acceptable, but donning dark glasses and pretending to read a book while listening in on others' conversations is a great way to spark your imagination.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Watch a classic black-and-white movie on TV and note how things have changed over the years.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Get free tickets to watch a live filming of your favorite TV show.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Check for local garage sales or <a href="">antique fairs</a> in your area. And you don't have to buy anything &mdash; simply scope out the stuff and people watch.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Borrow your friend's kids and head to the park. Playing with children is a fun way to spark your creativity.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Read a fantasy novel &mdash; or a romance.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Relax</a>. Calming your mind will allow all your amazing ideas to flow.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take a shower and belt out your favorite tune.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Read back on your journal and reflect on where you are today. Or start a journal and get writing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn how to make the <a href="">perfect boiled egg</a> to start your day out right.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start a blog and write posts about something you are passionate about.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Join <a href="">Pinterest</a> and look at all the inspirational things others are doing and sharing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go to a free concert.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Attack that stack of old magazines and create an inspiration board.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Check out <a href="">DIY</a> blogs online.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go to a craft fair and take pictures of all the neat things people are making.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pack for a trip even though you're not going anywhere. Imagine you're traveling to somewhere amazing and write an email detailing the trip. When finished, send the email to yourself.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Transform just-about-wilted flowers into <a href="">homemade potpourri</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Listen to classical music.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Head outdoors and take a photo tour of your neighborhood, snapping all your favorite spots.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Write a letter to yourself in the future.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Grab a blanket and find a quiet spot to cloud watch.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Ask a friend questions you've never asked before. Or call your sister, brother, or parents, and catch up.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Check for free improv nights in your area and make a date.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Head to your local community collage and sign up for a free class.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start writing the next great novel.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Call your besties and head out for a night of fun karaoke.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do repairs around the house. Yes, not super fun, but while you're making sure that picture's hung right, you'll get your mind thinking in other ways.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Toss clutter and <a href="">clean your home</a>, revealing open spaces and empty corners.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Meditate</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Watch the sunset, or wake up early and enjoy the sunrise.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Switch things up with a <a href="">10-minute workout</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Sketch a beautiful dress.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go for a long walk at night and stargaze.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn how to make origami shapes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Enliven your tea</a> with fruits and fresh herbs. Drink it instead of coffee in the morning, or during the day, for a fresh new look on things.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go to a candy store and sample all the amazing flavors.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Head to the beach, or your local swim spot, and enjoy the natural surroundings.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Try a new look and <a href="">do your hair differently</a> or go a day without makeup.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn how to play an instrument.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take some <a href="">selfie snaps</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do something you used to love doing as a child, like building a fort with blankets and pillows.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Eat ice cream for breakfast and sausage and eggs for dinner.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Check out the best hikes in your area and pick one to try.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Search for <a href="">adorable pet videos</a> on YouTube.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you're right-handed, use your left for the day.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take a nap.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Sign up for free dance lessons.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go climb a tree and sit in the branches for a different perspective on things.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Try <a href="">nail art</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Grab a notebook and pencil and design your dream house. Even if you aren't an architect, simply listing all the things that you'd love in your perfect home is a fun way to get your creative juices flowing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Put fruits that are slightly unripe to good use by making <a href="">homemade jam</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Check out <a href="">Etsy</a> and, if you're crafty, start your own shop.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn how to knit.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Create a thinking spot in your home to sit and ponder things.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Check out <a href="">Airbnb</a>. Even if you're not traveling, looking at other people's spaces might spark your imagination.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Talk to a stranger.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rearrange your furniture. Need inspiration? Call a friend to come over and tell you how she thinks things should be positioned.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take your dog for a long walk. Don't have a pet? Look at <a href="">cute pictures of kitties</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use your phone to make a short video and then share it with family and friends.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go to an art opening. Along with showcasing new artists, art openings often offer free snacks and drinks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Head to your local home goods store, pick out a selection of paint samples, and use them to <a href="">do a fun project</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Dress up in your favorite outfit and go for a walk. Even though you're not a celebrity, act like you're one.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Get out your favorite pictures and create a <a href="">unique photo wall</a> in your home.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go through your clothes and make a stack to donate.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Deep-clean your bed</a> for a better night's sleep. This way you'll feel refreshed and ready for anything tomorrow.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Join a local sports league in town and make new friends while being active.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go to a book reading.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Browse for free things on <a href="">Craigslist</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn how to <a href="">make a new cocktail</a> from bottles hiding in your liquor cabinet.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Clean out your email, reading old correspondences before deleting.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Invite friends over for a <a href="">fun game night</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn how to watercolor.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Spend your Sunday looking at open houses in your community. Along with getting a chance to see the interiors of homes, take inspiration from how furniture is arranged or the view from the kitchen window.</li> </ol> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don&#039;t just sit there waiting for inspiration — break boredom and get creative with one of these great ideas. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a style="border:none;" href=""><img width="300" height="95" src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href=""><em>POPSUGAR Smart Living</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="">68 Mostly Free Ways to Entertain Yourself at Home</a></li> <li><a href="">Gimme a Break: 101 Frugal Ways to Relax</a></li> <li><a href="">How to Self-Motivate in 5 Steps</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development creativity free fun free things to do Mon, 12 Aug 2013 10:24:31 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 981123 at 25 Ways to Boost Creativity <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-ways-to-boost-creativity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="mustache drawing" title="mustache drawing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Even those who go, go, go all day long can run into creative walls every once in a while. And once you&rsquo;ve been knocked down, it can be hard to get back up again &mdash; despite what 90s annoyance Chumbawamba professes. So to help you reclaim your creativity in the event that you&rsquo;re at an intellectual impasse, here are 25 tips on how to boost your creative brainpower. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">How Less Creativity Can Make You&nbsp;More Creative</a>)</p> <h2>1. Listen to Music</h2> <p>Turn on your favorite tunes and get lost in melody. Don&rsquo;t just listen to the music though. Hear it. Digest the lyrics and imagine in your head the scenes they set.</p> <h2>2. Meditate</h2> <p>Turn down the lights, power off your devices, and become one with yourself again. Meditation helps increase creativity by creating a condition for insight, easing artistic anxiety, and improving attention and concentration, among other benefits.</p> <h2>3. Doodle/Draw</h2> <p>Even if you&rsquo;re not a particularly good hand artist, you can doodle endlessly and without a real purpose to help clear your mind of some of the clutter that has accumulated.</p> <h2>4. Daydream</h2> <p>This is one of my all time favorite pastimes. Daydreaming allows us to escape the burdens we carry and facilitates open-mindedness. There are no restrictions when daydreaming, which is why this tactic can be useful when you need a creative boost.</p> <h2>5. Keep a Notepad by Your Bed</h2> <p>I often wake up in the middle of the night &mdash; either from a dream or for a bathroom break &mdash; with something on my mind. If I don&rsquo;t write it down immediately, I will likely forget it by morning. To preserve these creative surges, even when I can&rsquo;t or don&rsquo;t want to do anything about them in the moment, I keep a notepad next to my bed to jot down those dream filled ideas, words, and thoughts for later.</p> <h2>6. Skim Through a Magazine</h2> <p>Visual aids can often help in the creative process, so skimming through a magazine relevant to what you&rsquo;re working on may help. For instance, if you&rsquo;re looking for design inspiration, page through a home improvement publication. If you want to <a href="">make a delicious meal for houseguests</a>, look through a cooking magazine. There are magazines for virtually everything you can think of, so you should be able to find something that piques your creativity rather easily.</p> <h2>7. Have a Cocktail</h2> <p>Some of my best ideas have come after a few glasses of wine. In fact, if it weren&rsquo;t for alcohol, famous writers like Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald would have never had a hit. To inspire your creativity, throw a few back (in moderation) and wait for the ideas to start flowing as freely as the moderately free flowing booze.</p> <h2>8. Take a Nap</h2> <p>When you&rsquo;re overwhelmed and overworked, it&rsquo;s hard to be creative. Sometimes all you need is a nap to get your mind back on track.</p> <h2>9. Visit a Museum</h2> <p>Museums burst at their seams with creative excellence. Take a leisurely stroll through an art gallery or educational facility to see what those who have come before you have created to ignite ideas of your own.</p> <h2>10. Browse the Internet</h2> <p>If your brain is drained, spend 30 minutes browsing funny videos, reading articles, looking at pictures, or otherwise searching for the most outlandish things you can find. Just don't overdo it.</p> <h2>11. Play Video Games</h2> <p>Another great way to relax your noggin is to engage in a round of video games (or board games even). Some games can energize their players (especially Wii or Kinect games that make you move), and they can assist in improving your problem-solving skills.</p> <h2>12. Make a List</h2> <p>Whenever I have to come up with creative taglines for advertising copy, I take out a sheet of paper and write down all associated words and words that rhyme with those words, and I search for idioms that have relevance to the concept at hand. This technique unlocks ideas which lead to more ideas that I never would have thought of otherwise.</p> <h2>13. Decorate to Inspire</h2> <p>If you have an extra room in your house, decorate it to inspire you. Paint it a bright, energetic color; hang artwork that evokes emotion; and keep within reach those items you need when you need a creative insurgence &mdash; like coffee and your iPad.</p> <h2>14. Brainstorm With Another Creative</h2> <p>You know the old saying &mdash; two heads are better than one. When yours is running on empty, join forces with another creative to get your brain back in the game.</p> <h2>15. Get a Massage</h2> <p>Take a load off your back and your brain with a soothing massage that will help you relax. While you&rsquo;re lying there for those 30 to 90 minutes, let you mind rest and wander.</p> <h2>16. Read a Book</h2> <p>You can&rsquo;t help but visualize people and places when you <a href="">read a great book</a>. So when you feel like you&rsquo;re experiencing a block, pick up your favorite story and escape to where your imagination and the prose take you.</p> <h2>17. Exercise</h2> <p>What else do you have to do on the treadmill besides watch the clock? Use that time to think about your projects and how you plan to approach them when you&rsquo;re all buffed up. Thinking while working out also helps the minutes go by a little faster, which for someone like me, who hates the gym, is a blessing.</p> <h2>18. Eat Brain-Boosting Foods</h2> <p>Want a sharper mind bursting with creativity? The answer may be in what you eat. Put down the burgers and donuts and instead stuff your face with <a target="_blank" href="">healthy, brain boosting foods</a> like fish, soy, greens, and berries.</p> <h2>19. Follow Your Curiosity</h2> <p>The only way your creativity will know no bounds is if you let your curiosity run wild. One of the ways I expand my horizons is through Wikipedia. It never fails that when I look up one topic, I click on 20 other related links until I&rsquo;m so far from my original topic that I forgot what I searched for. The result, however, is that I&rsquo;ve just learned a ton of stuff that will influence my creativity, even if I don&rsquo;t know it yet.</p> <h2>20. Set Aside Time</h2> <p>Sometimes you have to schedule time to think. If you find that you don&rsquo;t have enough time during the day and your creativity is suffering as a result, it&rsquo;s time for a break. Schedule a half hour where you can <a href="">put all your distractions aside</a> and relax. This brief respite will help you destress and think more clearly when you return to work.</p> <h2>21. Take Risks</h2> <p>When you take risks, you open yourself up to new experiences &mdash; and new experiences contribute to your overall creativity. So the next time you go back and forth in your mind about &quot;should I or shouldn&rsquo;t I,&quot; just do it. You&rsquo;ll thank yourself later.</p> <h2>22. Think Outside the Box &mdash; Literally</h2> <p>It may sound like a cliché, but <a target="_blank" href="">sitting outside a physical box has shown to enhance creativity</a>.</p> <h2>23. Have Fun With Children</h2> <p>Who better to help you open your mind that children? Children have no stress; their lives are simple. So it only make sense that their imaginations run wild 24/7. Get in on some of that action by having fun with a few of the kids in your life so you can free your mind like one again.</p> <h2>24. Ponder the Future</h2> <p>What&rsquo;s great about thinking about the future is that it&rsquo;s yet to be written. In your version, you&rsquo;re the author, which means there are endless possibilities. Tap into your creativity by thinking about life 20 years from now. And think big, for goodness' sake. Your future will be what you make it.</p> <h2>25. Manage the Mood</h2> <p>Is your environment preventing you from being as creative as you&rsquo;d like to be? Change that. Remove those distractions and make your thinking space conducive to creativity. Maybe that means turning up the music or opening the windows or shutting off the lights. Whatever you need to do to think clearly, do it.</p> <p><em>What do you do to boost your creativity?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="25 Ways to Boost Creativity" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development Productivity cheap fun creativity getting things done Tue, 05 Mar 2013 11:00:31 +0000 Mikey Rox 968009 at 14 Things You Should Spend More Time On <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-things-you-should-spend-more-time-on" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="brushing teeth" title="brushing teeth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In our rush-rush, hurry-hurry world of multitasking and automation, we&rsquo;ve managed to cram more into an average day than ever before.</p> <p>But there are some things that shouldn&rsquo;t be left to an app, condensed to an audio book, or squeezed in between yoga class and clearing out your DVR. Yes, you heard me&hellip;there are still some things that require your full and undivided personal attention.</p> <p>Now, things such as your health and your money go without saying, and I doubt that you need any convincing on those points. For that reason, the obvious priorities have been left off this list &mdash; instead, you&rsquo;ll find aspects that are easier to overlook. (See also: <a href="">25 Healthy&nbsp;Changes You&nbsp;Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h2>1. Your Teeth</h2> <p>We&rsquo;re all aware of the importance of having a bright and shining smile, but the cosmetic benefits are only the tip of the iceberg. And according to a <a href="">2009 survey of dentists</a>, we&rsquo;re not taking the care we should when it comes to our teeth.</p> <p>A healthy mouth prevents bad breath and tooth decay, but it also helps prevent gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss and a contributing factor in heart attacks and strokes. To get the benefits of a healthy mouth, however, you need to spend at least 10 minutes a day practicing good oral hygiene and make regular visits to your dentist for a deeper cleaning.</p> <h2>2. Your Home</h2> <p>They say that your home is a reflection of what&rsquo;s going on in your life, so if things seem chaotic or &ldquo;out-of-sorts,&rdquo; that sensation is then mirrored in the design and decorating in your house.</p> <p>But sometimes, the opposite is true. Your home also influences your mood, so if your study is cluttered and messy, for example, you&rsquo;ll likely feel frustrated and agitated whenever you enter the room. Likewise, an unorganized kitchen can make cooking a pain, encouraging you to eat something fast but less-healthy to avoid spending time in the room.</p> <p>And now, new studies show that clutter isn&rsquo;t the only factor to consider. Dubbed <a href="">neuroarchitecture</a>, research shows that lighting, color, space, and general décor have the ability to actually enhance our mood and even improve our performance.</p> <p>So, the next time you&rsquo;re feeling stressed or blue, take a look around at your environment&hellip;it may be time to redecorate.</p> <h2>3. Family and Friends</h2> <p>While there&rsquo;s much to be said for alone time (see #5 below), we are still very much social creatures at heart and our <a href="">relationships are an important component of our self-esteem</a>.</p> <p>Unfortunately, our busy schedules can make quality time with family and friends difficult to achieve, meaning that you have to work at it if you want to see some positive results.</p> <p>And if an improvement in mood and outlook aren&rsquo;t enough to motivate you to connect with others, check this out &mdash; a <a href="">2003 Study at Ohio State University</a> (PDF) suggests that illness and injuries actually heal faster when we&rsquo;re surrounded and supported by those we love.</p> <h2>4. Learning</h2> <p>A while back, I wrote about <a href="">ways to improve your memory</a> and possibly stave off dementia and other degenerative diseases of the mind. Since that time, I&rsquo;ve added daily lessons of Spanish and French in my household (as well as my mother&rsquo;s), and I&rsquo;m also relearning algebra as well.</p> <p>The results are noticeable. Nevermind that I feel a little smarter; I&rsquo;m also finding it easier to recall information and talk intelligently without struggling for words along the way. And what I realized was this &mdash; we spend our school years cramming and memorizing and studying a wide variety of subjects, but once we enter the &ldquo;real world,&rdquo; we tend to specialize in our profession and that constant challenge of learning new things seems to stop.</p> <p>Is it any wonder, then, that our minds begin to deteriorate?</p> <p>Now, the good news is that you don&rsquo;t have to restrict yourself to language and math. You can memorize the presidents, study geology or history, rekindle that love of science, or dive into the crazy world of politics. The point is to keep learning&hellip;and the more you learn, the more new pathways your brain will create.</p> <h2>5. Solitude</h2> <p>There&rsquo;s nothing wrong with craving the company of others, and if you read #3 above, then you know that I&rsquo;ve already established the importance of reinforcing and nurturing those human connections.</p> <p>But solitude is important too&hellip;so much so that several <a href="">recent studies</a> suggest that there&rsquo;s definitely some benefits to going solo on a regular basis. That alone time allows you to clear your head, balance emotions, process and memorize information, and even tap into your own &ldquo;meaning of life.&rdquo;</p> <h2>6. Your Beliefs</h2> <p>One of the things I enjoyed about my college debate class was that my professor often asked us to argue the opposite point of view.</p> <p>This forced us to set aside our own personal belief systems and &mdash; to the best of our abilities &mdash; find a way to justify an opposing opinion. Granted, some topics were easier than others, but the result was always the same &mdash; we found that we understood more about the other side than we might have previously been willing to admit.</p> <p>Now, imagine what kind of progress we could make if we employed that tactic all the time?</p> <h2>7. Your Wardrobe</h2> <p>In the corporate world, it&rsquo;s widely known that what you wear can have a direct effect on your confidence level. People tend to take you more seriously when you&rsquo;re dressed for success, and the mere knowledge that you look good is enough to make you feel empowered.</p> <p>So why should that practice begin and end with the boardroom?</p> <p>Like our homes, how we dress is a direct reflection of how we feel, meaning that t-shirts and sweats are OK, but if they make up the majority of your wardrobe, you&rsquo;re doing your self-confidence an injustice.</p> <p>No, power suits aren&rsquo;t required for everyday attire, but some bright colors can do wonders for your mood and more importantly, your self-esteem, both of which can improve your negotiating skills, productivity, and outlook on life.</p> <h2>8. Your Memories</h2> <p>I&rsquo;m a genealogy junkie. What started as a curious search for my great-grandmother&rsquo;s birthplace has turned into a full-blown obsession to discover everything there is to know about my ancestors and their lives.</p> <p>This obsession, however, has also made me realize the importance of preserving the memories I&rsquo;m creating along the way&hellip;not just photographs, but stories and thoughts that will tell my grandchildren (and their grandchildren) exactly who I was and what mattered to me the most.</p> <p>Creating a scrapbook of your life also allows you the opportunity to take those walks down memory lane and discover some life lessons you might have missed along the way. It&rsquo;s therapeutic, it&rsquo;s comforting, and it has the potential to be eye-opening.</p> <h2>9. Creative Expression</h2> <p>We spend quite a bit of time doing what has to be done, whether it&rsquo;s paying bills or washing dishes or going to work.</p> <p><a href="">Making time for creative expression</a> gives you the chance to use a different part of your brain and focus on something that comes from deep within your own psyche rather than our usual day-to-day grind. Studies show that regularly dabbling in something artistic improves problem-solving skills, relieves stress, and lifts your mood &mdash; three good reasons to make art class high on your list of priorities.</p> <h2>10. Your Manners</h2> <p>We&rsquo;re all quick to talk about morals and values, but whatever happened to manners?</p> <p>Somehow, it&rsquo;s become acceptable to be indifferent (or worse, downright rude) if it serves our cause or ensures our success. I see kids acting in ways that I would never have behaved growing up, and I see adults acting with the same belligerence and discourteous mannerisms that we used to chalk up to the younger generations who didn&rsquo;t know any better.</p> <p>Now, don&rsquo;t get me wrong&hellip;I&rsquo;m all for a good debate, and I&rsquo;m the first in line when it comes to standing up for a good cause. But I think we lose something very vital to our society when getting our way means that we forget our manners.</p> <p>Call me old, call me out of touch&hellip;just be sure to say please and thank you when you do.</p> <h2>11. Your Dreams</h2> <p>When you were young, what did you want to be? A firefighter? A doctor? An astronaut? A princess? It&rsquo;s easy to have big dreams when we&rsquo;re little because there was nothing to force us to think otherwise.</p> <p>Of course, as we grow older, reality sets in and we learn to settle for something that will pay the bills rather than seek out that thing that makes our heart sing.</p> <p>But your dreams are your dreams for a reason &mdash; they represent your passion, that thing that makes you tick, and if you don&rsquo;t give them some attention now and then, dreams tend to wither away and die.</p> <p>The good news is that you don&rsquo;t have to quit your steady accounting job in order to explore your notions of becoming a cowboy. Small steps and small changes are often all it takes to revive those dreams and set you on a new and potentially more satisfying path.</p> <h2>12. Your Fears</h2> <p>I recently wrote an article about <a href="">getting things done</a> and noted that &ldquo;fear&rdquo; was actually our biggest motivator and also our biggest obstacle. Fear makes us behave in ways that are unbecoming to such an intelligent species, and it also keeps us from pushing the envelope and discovering what we&rsquo;re really capable of achieving.</p> <p>The bottom line &mdash; if your life isn&rsquo;t exactly what you want it to be, look at what you&rsquo;re afraid of. Chances are, fear is holding you back from your true potential.</p> <h2>13. Your Strengths</h2> <p>Self-improvement experts have always taught us that we need to work on our weaknesses if we want to improve them.</p> <p>But instead of spending so much time focusing on the things we despise and don&rsquo;t do well, why not spend more time focusing on areas in which we excel?</p> <p>Using this mindset, we&rsquo;d spend more time doing things we love, things that come naturally to us and that we have a talent for mastering. Imagine what a wonderful world we&rsquo;d live in if everyone spent their days doing the things they love the most?</p> <h2>14. Your Unchartered Territory</h2> <p>I&rsquo;ve already mentioned fears, dreams, and beliefs, but I want to take things one step further before we call this article &ldquo;done.&rdquo;</p> <p>Taking risks and venturing out into the unknown is something we don&rsquo;t like to do&hellip;and we don&rsquo;t like it because it requires us to change. But if there&rsquo;s one thing constant in the universe, it&rsquo;s the fact that everything is changing and will continue to do so, regardless of whether we&rsquo;re changing with it or not.</p> <p>So if there&rsquo;s one thing you take away from this article, let it be this &mdash; you don&rsquo;t know what&rsquo;s out there until you look. You don&rsquo;t know if you like something until you try it, and you don&rsquo;t know if you&rsquo;ll succeed unless you&rsquo;re willing to take a chance with the possibility that you&rsquo;ll fail.</p> <p>Life is what you make of it. Choosing to live it inside a safe but predictable bubble won&rsquo;t get you to where you really want to go, and you&rsquo;ll never know what kind of amazing surprises were waiting for you in that unchartered territory.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="14 Things You Should Spend More Time On" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kate Luther</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development creativity healthy living learning a new skill relationship building wardrobe Mon, 06 Aug 2012 10:24:41 +0000 Kate Luther 947044 at How Less Creativity Can Make You More Creative <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-less-creativity-can-make-you-more-creative" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="spreading jam" title="spreading jam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Creativity doesn't always just happen.</p> <p>In the Western world especially, where processed and packaged stuff is available everywhere all the time, it's much easier to consume rather than to create.</p> <p>Let me give you a simple example.</p> <h3>Breakfast of Champions</h3> <p>I can...</p> <ol> <li>Stand in front of the refrigerator looking for something amazing</li> <li>Rummage through the pantry looking for something amazing</li> <li>Flip through a cookbook searching for inspiration</li> <li>Find a recipe for a frittata and another one for creme-filled crepes</li> <li>Spend 1 1/2 hours cooking up an amazing frittata and creme-filled crepes</li> <li>Eat</li> <li>Spend another 30 minutes cleaning up the kitchen</li> </ol> <p>Or I can...</p> <ol> <li>Get the frozen pancakes out of the freezer like I always do</li> <li>Heat up a stack of pancakes in two minutes</li> <li>Eat</li> <li>Spend two more minutes cleaning up</li> </ol> <p>Both are essentially the same in this &mdash; it's food, and I ate it. Done.</p> <p>But the two are essentially different in this &mdash; in the first example, I had a lot of creative input in the food that I ate. I created it from the raw materials I had on hand. In the second scenario, I didn't. I ate what had been produced and packaged for me.</p> <p>There are times &mdash; many, many times &mdash; when using what has already been produced is much smarter than trying to create your own version. I don't want to build my own house, I just want to live in it. So let me be clear &mdash; we're not on a mission to be creative all the time, in every aspect, in every possible way. Quite the opposite, in fact.</p> <p>It behooves you, if you want to be more creative, to find some key ways to be less creative.</p> <p>Wha-aaa&hellip;? Looks of confusion around the room.&nbsp;</p> <p>Let me sum up.</p> <h3>The Sum of Your Days</h3> <p>Your day-to-day life is a series of tiny decisions and repetitious acts.</p> <p>You wake up every day, get dressed, eat breakfast, get in your car, and drive to work. Or you wake up every day, get dressed, snuggle with some cute little kids, come up with breakfast for you and the cute little kids, clean the house, and do some work. Whatever your life consists of, chances are you repeat a lot of your actions day after day.</p> <p>Am I right?</p> <p>Yes, I am. Let's continue.</p> <p>So you do a lot of the same things every day. You either make the same decisions over and over again, or you do these same things out of habit.</p> <p>You put a few habits in order, and you have a routine. Routines get you through your repetitious daily tasks and save you from making the same decisions over and over again.</p> <p>And when you're not using your time and energy to decide (again) what you'll wear or whether you'll wash your hair or when you'll work out, you can use your time and energy for other stuff instead.</p> <p>Stuff like being creative.</p> <h3>The Power of Mundane Routines</h3> <p>Consider this &mdash; you deal with thousands of decisions every day. You know from experience that your mental energy is limited. All of us can process only so much before our brains go on auto-pilot or shut off completely. If you know your mental juice is limited, why do you want to waste it on the stuff that isn't so important?</p> <p>Put some of your life on auto-pilot so that you have more of your mental capability to put into your creative passions.</p> <p>The routines you build may seem to give you less room for creativity, and they do in a certain sense. When you have routines, certain parts of your life are already decided; all you have to do is follow the routine, and the results will follow without any real creative effort. But putting those routines in place gives you the freedom to be more creative in other areas.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How Less Creativity Can Make You More Creative" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Annie Mueller</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development creativity habits routines Wed, 30 May 2012 10:24:07 +0000 Annie Mueller 931901 at 15 Tested Tips for Creative Efficiency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-tested-tips-for-creative-efficiency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman holding brush" title="woman holding brush" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="219" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Creative pursuits and efficiency don't always seem to go together; in fact, our age-old wisdom tells us that in order to be truly creative, we need wide open swaths of time, unbounded by other obligations like work, kids, and the need to get dinner on the table. (See also: <a href="" title="Fun and Cheap Ways to Get Creative When You&rsquo;re Bored">Fun and Cheap Ways to Get Creative When You&rsquo;re Bored</a>)</p> <p>Then there's real life, which includes work, kids, the need to <a href="" title="Menu Planning Backwards and Forwards">get dinner on the table</a>&hellip;little things like that which won't go away. <strong>Life won't be put on hold while we decide to get creative.</strong></p> <p>So what's the answer? Unless we've found &quot;being creative&quot; a way to also earn a living, we find ourselves having to fit our creative pursuits around the edges of our day. If you're in a boat like mine, you're trying to do all that and then some: being a mom, while also using your creative skills (in my case, writing) to supplement your family's income&hellip; oh, and also carve a little time in to write that novel or book of poems that you don't expect will make you any money but which simply must be written.</p> <p>I'm writing this right now with my third child snuggled up next to me. He's 2 1/2, and he and the other three kids have been sick for the last week. We're all starting to get better now, but for the last seven days I've not had more than a couple of hours of <a title="5 Effective Sleep Tips You Haven't Tried Yet" href="">uninterrupted sleep</a> at a time. To say I'm tired is a drastic understatement. My oldest is five. My youngest is 5 months. Also, right now, we're living in my in-laws' basement due to the black mold problem discovered in our house. We've been living away from home for a couple of weeks, running back and forth to get what we need, moving back in once only to find more mold so moving back out again. Needless to say, my life is a bit unsettled.</p> <p>What I'm trying to say with that long drawn-out story is that life is rarely going to bless you with long open hours to sit around and paint portraits or write songs or write novels.</p> <p><strong>If you want the time, you have to fight for it. And chances are, you'll win it in minutes and snatches, not in hours and days.</strong></p> <p>So here are 15 tips I've discovered/gathered/collected from the last seven years of being a wife, a mom, and someone who values creativity too much to let it wait until the kids are grown and we're retired and I have all the time in the world. Which I don't expect will happen anyway (the all the time in the world part, I mean. I do expect the kids to be grown, someday).</p> <h3>1. Create simple routines for your day</h3> <p>Routines simplify the repetitive tasks of the day, helping you to get them done on autopilot so your brain is free for creative pursuits while your body does the routine work.</p> <h3>2. Keep your supplies on hand</h3> <p>Accessibility is a big part of being more creative. If you have to get involved in any sort of major set-up before you can be creative, you're putting up a road block.</p> <h3>3. Focus on one project at a time</h3> <p>It simplifies what your brain needs to do, and allows your unconscious to work on the project and be ready with creativity when the time comes.</p> <h3>4. Do something related to your art every single day</h3> <p>Keep it fresh and front of mind. Even if all you have time for is something very basic, get in five minutes of an activity related to your creative project. For a writer, that could be just keeping a daily journal, or a five-minute creative writing break. For artists, it could be making a sketch, or reviewing your sketches.</p> <h3>5. Have an easy way to catch ideas</h3> <p>Keep a notebook in your pocket or get good at quickly recording ideas on your phone. They don't need to be good ideas, just treat them as valuable and put them in a place where you can find them later. This has a double benefit of freeing your brain up from the work of holding those ideas and giving you a place to start when you're out of ideas, later.</p> <h3>6. Focus on one medium/method at a time</h3> <p>Focus is powerful; it sets boundaries for your creativity, which actually kicks it into gear.</p> <h3>7. Immerse yourself</h3> <p>Read books on or related to your creative pursuit. Read biographies, or watch biographies and documentaries of others in the field. Go to workshops, talk to peers, listen to inspiring music, study, immerse yourself in what you're doing and things related to it. Give your brain plenty of fodder.</p> <h3>8. Think in 5- to 10-minute blocks</h3> <p>What can you do in five minutes? In ten minutes? Think in these terms. It's different than having hours of unbroken time, but that kind of luxury isn't always possible. Five minutes is long enough to write a few sentences, analyze the light in the corner, listen to the line of a song, try a new stitch pattern, match some colors, play with a logo design. It's not enough to do everything, or even much, but it's enough to do something.</p> <h3>9. Make creativity mobile</h3> <p>How can you work on your creative project while you're on the go? Can you listen to related recordings, podcasts, music? Can you jot down ideas in your notebook? Talk about it with a peer or mentor?</p> <h3>10. Eliminate time wasters that eat up your free time</h3> <p>Keep a time log if you're not sure what your time wasters are. You'll find some. Pick one, and get it out of your life.</p> <h3>11. Turn off the TV</h3> <p>It eats your time and your brain cells. If you truly want time to do your creative work, kill it. For that matter, unplug yourself entirely when you're off work and able to be unavailable. Silence the phone, shut down the browser. Give your brain some free space.</p> <h3>12. Train your muse</h3> <p>Do some work every day at the same time in the same place. It trains your muse to show up and be ready.</p> <h3>13. Hang out with inspiring people</h3> <p>Find the people in your life who inspire you to work harder, think bigger, be better. Put yourself around them. Limit your time around the people who distract you with gossip, negativity, same-old same-old ruts of life.</p> <h3>14. Define creative work so you know when you're doing it</h3> <p>There are so many ways to be creative. You probably have a lot more creativity in your life than you know. Cooking, baking, sewing, humming, playing games&hellip; define creativity beyond art/music/writing.</p> <h3>15. Use your creative strengths on obligatory tasks</h3> <p>Need to <a title="Throwing Awesome Parties on a Budget" href="">plan a birthday party</a>? Find a way to use your creative strengths. You'll pull off a better party <em>and</em> use the time &quot;planning&quot; as creative time. Try to do that with everything possible: volunteer for things that fit your creatively. Take on the work projects that allow you to use your creative strengths. So on.</p> <p><em>What are your tips for creative efficiency? How do you fit creative work into your busy life? Share in the comments so we can all benefit.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Tested Tips for Creative Efficiency" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Annie Mueller</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development creativity efficiency personal development productivity Wed, 08 Feb 2012 11:36:23 +0000 Annie Mueller 890583 at 5 Ways to Improve Your Creativity Today <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-ways-to-improve-your-creativity-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Ways to Improve Your Creativity Today" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>One of the greatest skills that a business person can have is the ability to be creative.</p> <p>It's common to think that creativity is only something that &quot;artsy&quot; people need, but the need to be creative extends far beyond an art studio. Creativity is about solving problems, whether they be artistic, mathematical, or anything in between. And that is precisely why creativity is such a useful tool in business.</p> <p>But what if you're not creative? Do you have to be born with the creative gene? Not exactly. In fact, these fives suggestions should help anyone improve their creativity today.</p> <p><strong>1. Approach Creativity Like a Professional</strong></p> <p>Usually, when business people want to improve a skill&mdash;like public speaking, for example&mdash;they practice it. Guess what? Creativity is no different.</p> <p>They only way to become more creative is to practice being creative. Throw out suggestions in team meetings. Draw up a diagram or a flow chart that show the different possibilities. Try to think of a solution that no one else has thought of yet&mdash;even if it's bad. Stretch yourself.</p> <p>By taking these actions, you're giving your brain a chance to train itself to see other options and find creative solutions.</p> <p><strong>2. Limit the Possibilities</strong></p> <p>Sometimes, we when try to &quot;think outside the box&quot; or &quot;imagine every possibility&quot; we can overwhelm ourselves with options. It's like we're standing in an open field and the answer could be in any direction. Without any sense of where to go, we often end up staying put and making no progress at all.</p> <p>Instead, give yourself some boundaries. For example, telling an engineer to &quot;build a bridge&quot; is very different from her to &quot;build a bridge out of steel.&quot; You can develop creative solutions for either problem, but the limitation gives the engineer a place to start, which is the most critical part of any creative problem solving session.</p> <p><strong>3. Partner with Someone</strong></p> <p>Creative solutions often arise from a string of ideas. One thought leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on until the final solution is discovered. Any easy way to string more thoughts together, and thus improve the creativity of your solutions, is to partner with someone. Talk through a problem. Brainstorm with each other. Build upon one another's ideas.</p> <p>As a bonus? Partner teams are found to be among the most effective because they hold each other accountable. If you're working with someone, you're less likely to get distracted than if you were working alone, yet the group is still small enough to be flexible.</p> <p><strong>4. Don't Make Creative Comparisons</strong></p> <p>Here is a common reason we don't attack creative problems: we look at previous solutions, either our own or someone else's, and we think, &quot;I can't come up with something that good&quot; or &quot;I don't have time to do this as well as I did before.&quot; The result is that we quit before we ever get started.</p> <p>Comparisons are useless. Every situation is different and each problem is unique. Disregard the past, focus on where you are now, and solve today's problem to the best of your ability.</p> <p><strong>5. Stop Making Excuses and Get to Work</strong></p> <p>The primary thing holding people back from creative problem solving is simple: <a href="" target="_blank">procrastination</a>. Usually, we know the problems that we need to solve. We know the tasks that demand our attention. We know what the most important thing is that we need to do. But if it involves serious thought or effort, then we often find a way to avoid it.</p> <p>Smart people can make excuses all day long. Don't be a victim of your own ability to come up with a reason for not doing important work. Creativity will come if you give it a chance. Stop avoiding it and do the work.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">James Clear</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center brainstorming creative partnerships creative process creativity innovation small business teamwork Sat, 17 Dec 2011 01:12:01 +0000 James Clear 825744 at The Power of Lists: Getting More Creative and Efficient <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-power-of-lists-getting-more-creative-and-efficient" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Making a list" title="Making a list" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Efficiency and creativity aren&rsquo;t two qualities that typically go hand in hand. You never picture the creative genius going, &quot;I'll spend five more minutes on this idea because I need to get started on the next project.&quot;</p> <p>So what&rsquo;s the best way to become more efficient and more creative? Read a bunch of books? Take some classes? Spend a whole bunch of money?</p> <p>I have a much simpler solution &mdash; create a list.</p> <p>Here are two techniques that can help you get things done faster and come up with great ideas, whether you work in a creative field or not. (See also: <a href="">Solve Problems, Study, and Brainstorm Using Mind Maps</a>)</p> <h2>Becoming More Efficient</h2> <p>I&rsquo;m horrible at remembering things &mdash; I must&rsquo;ve been dropped on my head as a baby, as a young boy, and a few times as an adult. My memory just plain sucks.</p> <p>I used to spend a lot of my time at work and at home trying to remember things. Errands, article ideas, putting on my pants before I leave the house, etc. It&rsquo;s really bad.</p> <p>But after reading a piece in the New Yorker about the <a href="">power of checklists</a>, I had one of those &quot;aha&quot; moments &mdash; a list was my way around my memory problems! If a simple checklist can help doctors improve their patient care and save lives, then I can surely use that same strategy to remember where I left my shoes.</p> <p>The concept is simple &mdash; you&rsquo;re offloading the responsibility of remembering to a sheet of paper. Spend a decent amount of time on the checklist, and the next time you need to do a project or complete a task, you just follow the checklist to make sure you completed all the steps.</p> <p>So as a freelance writer it could be things like:</p> <ul> <li>Great headline</li> <li>SEO-friendly headline and keywords</li> <li>Some humor</li> <li>Something interesting/useful</li> <li>Strong voice</li> </ul> <p>Sounds silly, but once you sit down to write (or do anything), this isn&rsquo;t the stuff you want to be focusing on. We forget about it.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve used checklists at work, and they&rsquo;ve made my life a lot easier. Once you find the fastest way to complete a task, write it down as a checklist. Then, next time you can just run through it and be done instead of agonizing over how to go about it. Again.</p> <p>Checklists are like the crumbs of bread that you leave behind for the next time so you'll find your way faster. That&rsquo;s efficiency.</p> <h2>Creativity and Good Ideas</h2> <p>A lot of people think that being creative is simply in your blood. These people wake up in the morning and write a three-act play on their way to the shower.</p> <p>Those people do exist (I hate you all), but that&rsquo;s not how most people come up with great ideas. This is something we&rsquo;re all capable of &mdash; we just have to put in a little bit of work to get there.</p> <p>If you really want to see how creative you can be, you&rsquo;re going to have to do some digging. Don&rsquo;t expect to sit down with a sheet of paper, spend a few minutes thinking, and then boom &mdash; you&rsquo;ll hit on a great idea that will be brilliant. Not gonna happen.</p> <p>Instead, try this tip from the copywriting world &mdash; come up with a <a href="">list of 100</a>.</p> <p>Wait &mdash; 100 ideas??!!</p> <p>Yup, that&rsquo;s right. This will force you to do a few things:</p> <ul> <li>Churn out a bunch of ideas</li> <li>Turn off your inner editor that&rsquo;s constantly telling you an idea is dumb</li> <li>Force your brain to keep working, to keep digging, to keep churning and coming up with more and more ideas until you hit 100</li> </ul> <p>The first few ideas will be pretty predictable. But then you&rsquo;ll hit a wall. You&rsquo;ll want to quit. You&rsquo;ll think it&rsquo;s a dumb idea to sit down and write 100 ideas down. You&rsquo;ll think I&rsquo;m an idiot that can&rsquo;t remember squat. Which is true, but give it a chance.</p> <p>Once you&rsquo;re done, you&rsquo;ll have <a href="">100 ideas</a> to choose the very best from. This is a concept a photographer once told me about &mdash; in order to get an amazing picture, you have to take a whole bunch of crappy ones.</p> <p>Your brain has pushed through a few walls and taken you into some random places to keep coming up with ideas. You&rsquo;ve managed to shut off your <a href="">lizard brain</a> and open up your mind to the possibility of new, different, creative ideas. Some of them will suck. Some will be OK. What you&rsquo;re hoping for is to review the list later on and fall in love with one or two of them.</p> <p>Welcome to the creative process.</p> <p>Even if you're not a writer, this is a technique you can use. You can come up with lists of ways to make your company more efficient, new products/services your company should start selling, etc. Anything new can be born this way.</p> <p>Now get a sheet of paper, and start getting <a href="">more efficient</a> and creative.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Power of Lists: Getting More Creative and Efficient" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carlos Portocarrero</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development Productivity creativity efficiency lists Fri, 02 Dec 2011 11:25:20 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 791585 at 10 Ways to Check Your Ego at the Door <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/10-ways-to-check-your-ego-at-the-door" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Ways to Check Your Ego at the Door" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Open dialogue and collaboration can take your organization to the next level when exceptional ideas are embraced for their inherent value, regardless of the source. But being able to listen to both grassroots and world-renowned thought leaders and champion employee-engagement and customer-feedback programs requires checking your ego at the door (and getting your managers to do the same).</p> <p><b>Focus on the team&rsquo;s goal, not individual bragging rights</b>.</p> <p>Whether leader or follower, engage with and listen to people who are more talented (in certain areas) than you are. All of you are needed to invent something new, find real-world applications to lofty ideas, or react to changing conditions.</p> <p><b>Recognize that creativity, wisdom, and brilliance are packaged in many different forms</b>.</p> <p>The most eloquent or persuasive speaker is not always the person who dreams up the best ideas. The person who appears to be the plainest may be the most innovative. The quirky, the ornery, or the humorous may hold the answers, give the insights, or articulate the direction you seek.</p> <p><b>Acknowledge that anyone can contribute to the conversation, analysis, and, ultimately, execution</b>.</p> <p>Anyone can reinvent the game or disrupt the industry, whether he is knowledgeable or oblivious to how things have always been done or whether she has witnessed change over a few months or many years.</p> <p><b>Appreciate those who seem less astute than you</b>.</p> <p>If these folks are your target audience, you&rsquo;ll do well to understand what they think, predict how they&rsquo;ll react to offers, gauge their spending habits, etc. even if they are less fashion-oriented and technologically-savvy than you. That is, those who are not innovators and early adopters buy stuff too.</p> <p><b>Learn something new</b>.</p> <p>Master a new skill, gain a new piece of knowledge, or do a combination of both. At some point in the learning process, you will feel doubt and frustration, ask for help, or discover that someone knows more about a subject than you do. Respect for those in another field and patience for those still learning in your area of expertise will grow.</p> <p><b>Solicit and apply useful feedback</b>.</p> <p>Avoid the compulsion to interrupt, defend yourself, or turn anything less-than-a-praiseful comment into a condemnation of your entire project, program, or product line. Even if the other person, department, or group doesn&rsquo;t fully understand your perspective and grasp your role, you&rsquo;ll gain insight into how you and your team are perceived.</p> <p><b>Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses</b>.</p> <p>By acknowledging areas of capability and struggle, you should be able to more clearly define the professional attributes that complement and threaten you.</p> <p><b>Don&rsquo;t be afraid to try out a new idea. </b></p> <p>Many great ideas get tossed out because managers are afraid of failure. Certainly, do whatever is necessary to achieve success and avoid failure. Find ways to minimize the negative impact and financial consequence in the trial phase. Attend to details. Start small.</p> <p><b>After test runs, reflect on the worthiness of ideas and their execution</b>.</p> <p>Gather lessons learned from all efforts, successful and not-so-successful ones.</p> <p><b>Listen to people with whom you are supposed to be connecting</b>.</p> <p>Check for common understanding of topics, whether you agree or not. Realize that some use subtle means of making a point, encouraging further inquiry and reflection. Others are direct, leaving no doubt of intent. Understand and value all styles of respectful communication.</p> <p>Alone, you can make good decisions. Independently, you can craft a feasible, cost-effective plan suitable for your business&rsquo;s mission and team&rsquo;s goal. But collaboration means expecting and envisioning greater opportunities, ones that never occurred to you in solitude. Checking your ego means abandoning pursuit of approval, attention, appreciation, and control; and then, channeling your energy to discovering and building the best that is possible.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Julie Rains</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center collaboration creativity employee relations idea generation office culture small business Thu, 21 Jul 2011 18:13:17 +0000 Julie Rains 620099 at Finding Your Best Work Hours <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/finding-your-best-work-hours" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Man asleep while working" title="Man asleep while working" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="150" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>People naturally have times when they are more energetic and able to focus. If you can figure out what those hours are for you, you can maximize your productivity without working more hours. In fact, you may find that you can work fewer hours and get more done just by adjusting your schedule so that you do the most important work during your most productive times. (See also: <a href="">10 Ways to Save Time With Batch Processing</a>)</p> <h3>Defining Your Best Work Hours</h3> <p>Chances are you can already pinpoint your best work hours just by how you describe your energy patterns &mdash; are you a morning person or a night person?</p> <p>You know you're in your best work hours when:</p> <ul> <li>You're better able to focus</li> <li>You complete tasks quicker</li> <li>You approach projects with confidence</li> <li>You have more energy</li> <li>You're excited about work rather than dreading it</li> <li>You feel fresh and full of ideas</li> </ul> <p>Of course, those are comparative signs; no matter what hour of the day you sit down to <a href="">tackle a project</a> that intimidates you, you're more likely to feel dread than expectation. But you'll notice a difference in your overall demeanor and approach to work during your best work hours.</p> <p>You know you're in your worst work hours when:</p> <ul> <li>You're very low energy</li> <li>You feel sluggish and find it hard to focus</li> <li>You're easily distracted</li> <li>You're more prone to procrastination</li> <li>Routine tasks take much longer than they should</li> <li>You can't seem to get started on creative work</li> <li>You feel drained and out of ideas</li> </ul> <p>Unless you arrange your work tasks to line up with your best work hours, you might trudge along, wasting your best working time on routine tasks, meetings, or chores.</p> <h3>How to Make Your Best Work Hours Work for You</h3> <p>Figure out your natural best work time, then incorporate a few tactics to make the most of it.</p> <h4>1. Map out your best to worst work hours.</h4> <p>If you already have a good idea of when you're at your best (and worst), then write it down to get an idea of the flow of your day. If you're not quite sure, use the <a href="">Daily Productivity Heatmap</a> developed by Charlie Gilkey. This free download is a map of a 24-hour cycle with a color code. You fill in a color for each hour to identify where you are on a productivity scale.</p> <h4>2. Categorize your projects.</h4> <p>Identify the projects/tasks that need your full focus (creative work) and those that don't (routine tasks).</p> <h4>3. Schedule appropriately.</h4> <p>Schedule your best work hours for your creative work by:</p> <ul> <li>Getting rid of appointments, meetings, and scheduled events during those times</li> <li>Refusing to run errands or do chores during those times</li> <li>Streamlining your &quot;get started&quot; routine</li> <li>Blocking out lower-productivity time for those routine tasks, errands, meetings, etc.</li> </ul> <h4>4. Guard your best work hours ferociously.</h4> <p>Remember that there are cycles. You can't function at maximum productivity all the time, but you can <a href="">make the most of those times</a> when you are at your maximum productivity levels. Don't let them be stolen away by obligations, interruptions, or your own lack of planning.</p> <p>It's worth a little effort to figure out and arrange your schedule to use your best work hours. You'll get more done, you'll do it faster, you'll produce work of higher quality, and you'll be more creative. You'll also enjoy the work you're doing more when you are at your best. When you're able to plow through projects and quickly come up with creative solutions, work becomes less like work and more like fun. And who couldn't use a little more fun?</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Finding Your Best Work Hours" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Annie Mueller</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity creativity flex work sleep time management Thu, 07 Jul 2011 10:36:20 +0000 Annie Mueller 601808 at 8 Simple Ways to Trigger Your Creativity <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/8-simple-ways-to-trigger-your-creativity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Bright idea" title="Bright idea" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Simple Ways to Trigger Your Creativity" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Stuck in a rut? Need new product or marketing or management ideas? Relax and keep it simple. Doing the same things you&rsquo;ve always done may not seem like a great way to trigger creativity. But if you slow down and delve deeply into what seems everyday and ordinary, frequently you can make fresh discoveries and ignite new ideas you can apply to your business.</p> <p><strong>Engross yourself in a favorite hobby.</strong></p> <p>Dig deep into whatever diversion fascinates you. Consider the innovative products and technology applications that your hobby has spawned. See how business owners reach their narrowly defined target audiences.</p> <p>For example, a craftsperson might analyze the landscape of selling fine crafts and one-of-a-kind handmade items. How do large retailers market and sell low-priced crafts? How have craft shows changed over the last decade? How do sellers promote their unique offerings?</p> <p>Likewise, a runner may consider product innovations: performance apparel commands premium prices; how GPS technology has become integrated into training devices; how community races attract hundreds and thousands of people.</p> <ul> <li>The types of ideas that pursuit of a hobby can trigger:</li> <li>Design of new products;</li> <li>Applications of technology for improved performance;</li> <li>Methods of packaging and delivering services;</li> <li>Unique pricing structures;</li> <li>Techniques for creating and selling experiences.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Shop around in a single retail niche.</strong></p> <p>Pick a niche that is served by several stores in your area. You might choose ice cream shops, hardware stores, or consignment shops, for example. Make a real-life visit to see how business owners differ in their tactics. Take your time to observe and scrutinize various approaches.</p> <p>Contrasting methods of delivering the same product or service can generate ideas about how you can differentiate your own business from its competitors, such as:</p> <ul> <li>Product selections and display;</li> <li>Methods of managing employee-customer interactions;</li> <li>Ways of promoting the value of independently-owned businesses rather than national chains.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Simmer happily.</strong></p> <p>Creative thinking may be <em>spontaneous</em> but it is not always <em>instantaneous</em>. It&rsquo;s true that some creatives offer brilliant ideas within minutes of hearing strategic concepts. But others need hours or days to let thoughts simmer. Give yourself time instead of rushing to get results.</p> <ul> <li>Contemplation can work especially well to elicit these types of ideas:</li> <li>Creating strategies to capitalize on new business opportunities;</li> <li>Resolving long-standing problems;</li> <li>Discerning whether opportunities or problems need to be reframed in order to trigger the right response.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Talk with smart people, and listen.</strong></p> <p>I am amazed at how much information smart people are willing to share. Toss out a topic and you can garner insights on historical perspectives, current trends, and predictions for the future. Listen and probe to gather wisdom relevant to your business.</p> <p>Solicit advice to produce ideas on:</p> <ul> <li>Determining next steps for your business in critical areas such as innovative products, use of technology to deliver services, and messaging targeted customers;</li> <li>Pinpointing areas in which resources can be allocated to support these next steps.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Take a break.</strong></p> <p>Fixation on one topic can cause frustration, which is counterproductive to creativity. Taking a break allows you to move from laser-like focus to broadened understanding.</p> <p>Time away can benefit your creative thinking and help you:</p> <ul> <li>Redefine a problem, or recognize that a certain issue is inconsequential;</li> <li>Realize that a certain path to develop a new product or reach a new market isn&rsquo;t worth pursuing;</li> <li>Start asking different questions that yield the answers you need.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Consume media.</strong></p> <p>Witness creative expression or find examples of ineffective communication by checking out videos, watching television, playing games, reading news, listening to podcasts, etc. Learn cultural references of many generations and groups.</p> <p>Critical evaluation of all kinds of media can activate thinking about:</p> <ul> <li>Reaching new audiences;</li> <li>Conveying a message through images, dialogue, words, and interactivity;</li> <li>Describing ways of sharing stories that compel people to action.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Keep up with a blogging superhero.</strong></p> <p>Find the blogger who shares your values, wrestles with ideas that excite or trouble you, and gives both high-level and practical insights relevant to realizing your vision.</p> <p>Read blog posts to provoke thoughts on:</p> <ul> <li>Discovering what&rsquo;s missing from your strategic plan and its execution.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Watch your kids, who are unencumbered by fear.</strong></p> <p>Before he became a teenager, my youngest son was never afraid to try anything. Buttons were pushed endlessly and while electronic devices were broken, new computer applications were discovered. His experimentation was unnerving to me but illuminated the process of testing ideas in order to learn how actions create reactions. Since reading <a target="_blank" href=""><em>Poke the Box</em> by Seth Godin</a>, I am even more comfortable with the concept of unleashing creative thought, refraining from filtering ideas too early in the brainstorming process, and using idea testing to gain wisdom.</p> <p>Observe your children making discoveries or ask your friends who have kids about how their children go about understanding their world. Use these insights to create your own Poke-the-Box action:</p> <ul> <li>Encourage your team to generate ideas that you may have previously considered outrageous or impractical;</li> <li>Figure out methods of testing ideas;</li> <li>Assess outcomes and refine ideas to achieve desired results for your business.</li> </ul> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Julie Rains</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity Small Business Resource Center brainstorming creativity out of the box thinking poke the box problem solving small business Sat, 16 Apr 2011 22:29:38 +0000 Julie Rains 516561 at Fun and Cheap Ways to Get Creative When You’re Bored <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fun-and-cheap-ways-to-get-creative-when-you-re-bored" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Finger painting" title="Finger painting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Time is short, you have a pile of things to do, and you&rsquo;re feeling a little less than stellar. Seems like every drop of creative energy has all but dissipated into thin air. And you&rsquo;re oh-so-bored with your ever increasingly mundane, do-the-same-thing-every-day lifestyle. So what can you do to amp up your creative juices and get some of the good stuff flowing down on the page (writers), on the canvas (painters), in your job (anyone), and in your life in general (everyone)?</p> <h2>Fire up your fingers and get painting</h2> <p>Finger painting, that is. And it&rsquo;s not just finger painting, really. It&rsquo;s finger painting; it&rsquo;s foot painting; and it's any other part of your body you&rsquo;d like to slather in paint (think clean thoughts here!) and apply to a canvas or piece of paper. Elbows make fine tools for swiping long swaths of paper. Big toes are good impromptu brushes.</p> <h3>Cost</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s cheap to get a basic set of primary colors &mdash; around $8. Plus you can do this with friends, family, kids, and adults&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;anyone who likes their art to be a little more physical. I&rsquo;d say do some pottery, but that&rsquo;s a little more complicated and expensive. But a chunk of clay at the art store could be only a few bucks too.</p> <h2>Dust off the pencils and get drawing</h2> <p>It's easy to do anywhere you go. All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper, and you&rsquo;re all set. You can draw anything, anywhere, anytime. If you want to engage the other side of your brain, use your non-dominant hand and see where it takes you. Sometimes all you need is twenty minutes of doodling and, wham! There&rsquo;s the new idea you&rsquo;ve been looking for right there in front of you, where you couldn&rsquo;t see it because you were too busy looking.</p> <h3>Cost</h3> <p>A pencil and some paper. Sometimes that&rsquo;s free, and sometimes you need a couple of bucks to get it.</p> <h2>Pull on your tennis shoes and get moving</h2> <p>A little bit of physical action may be all you need to spark your creativity. A jog, a walk, some yoga, a round of serious salsa dancing, maybe a bike ride through your neighborhood. Bonus points here because getting your exercise gets both your creativity and your health on. My best ideas hit me on bike rides in the countryside.</p> <h3>Cost</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;ve got the shoes already, this one&rsquo;s totally free.</p> <h2>Change up the scenery and get traveling</h2> <p>Even if it&rsquo;s only to a different neighborhood. It&rsquo;s all too easy to get sucked into a routine that bores you to death. A simple walk somewhere new or a conversation with a stranger in a new café can be the perfect solution to your doldrums. And you never know, you might even meet someone who will become a great friend later on. I&rsquo;m all for random meetings. Some of my best friends are people I met in very random and unusual ways.</p> <h3>Cost</h3> <p>Somewhere close to your house? Possibly free. Somewhere a little further out? Depends on where you want to go. Could be the cost of a bus or subway ride.</p> <h2>Dig out some pens and get writing</h2> <p>Writing is not only creative, it&rsquo;s therapeutic. So don&rsquo;t worry about what you&rsquo;re writing. Just pull out a piece of paper and go for some serious stream-of-consciousness writing. Whatever&rsquo;s in your heart and soul can hit the page and free up some space in your head for new ideas and concepts. Do it every day for 10 minutes, and see what happens.</p> <h3>Cost</h3> <p>Paper and a pen. Could be free or could be a few bucks. If you want to do it on your computer, it&rsquo;s totally free.</p> <p>No matter the cost, really, it&rsquo;s all about making space in your head and your heart for the good stuff to reach you. And doing a little something new in your life every now and again is the best way to create the space to receive those goods. So let&rsquo;s get to it.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Fun and Cheap Ways to Get Creative When You’re Bored " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sasha A. Rae</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Productivity articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entertainment Productivity creativity drawing exercise painting Sun, 31 Oct 2010 17:00:09 +0000 Sasha A. Rae 274723 at Being routinely creative <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/being-routinely-creative" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Steps on a forest trail" title="Forest Steps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="263" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It might seem like creativity would flourish best in the absence of any constraining routine.  In fact, the opposite is true:  Having a routine is very useful for protecting your creativity.</p> <p>Most people have the outline of a routine provided for them--they get up, they go to work or school, they come home, they go to bed.  This sort of rhythm provides a useful constraint on your routine--perhaps you shower before work, run errands on the way home, mow the lawn on the weekend.  If you&#39;re going to do any sort of creative work, you need to carve out a chunk of time somewhere in that schedule.  That isn&#39;t easy, but at least it&#39;s clear what you need to do.</p> <p>If you don&#39;t have a schedule imposed by something external (such as school or a job), you might imagine that you&#39;re in a superior position to give your creativity free rein.  For most people, though, it doesn&#39;t work out that way.</p> <p>Everybody has certain things that they need to do--pay the bills, buy the groceries, run the errands, etc.  The problem is, there&#39;s no limit to those sorts of activities--they will grow to fill all your time, if you don&#39;t put limits on them yourself.</p> <p>If you don&#39;t have a work schedule to constrain them for you, it&#39;s very easy to let <strong>things that have to get done </strong>eat the time available for your creative pursuits.</p> <p>The solution is a routine.  Just like someone with a job, allocate chunks of time for the things that have to be done, then prioritize.</p> <p>There are two keys:</p> <p>First, be sure to schedule a chunk of time for your creative work.  It doesn&#39;t need to be a lot--it doesn&#39;t take a lot of time to be creative.  Like everything else, if you allocate more time (and put it to good use), you can get more done.  But also like everything else, you pretty quickly run into diminishing returns--you won&#39;t get twice as much done in six hours as you can in three, or even twice as much in two hours as in one (although large chunks of time do have a magic all their own).</p> <p>Second, be sure to restrict the &quot;things that have to get done&quot; to the time allotted for them.  Since they &quot;have to get done,&quot; it&#39;s easy to let them encroach on the time you&#39;ve set aside for other tasks.  Don&#39;t let that happen.  Make sure that you&#39;ve got enough time to get the truly necessary things done (such as paying your bills), prioritize the other items, and ruthlessly defer anything that would spill over.</p> <p>Whether you have the outline of a routine provided for you (by something like a job, school, or family obligations), or you have to create the entire routine for yourself, having one is the only way to ensure that you can get both your creative work and the ordinary chores of daily living done.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Being routinely creative " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity creative creativity productive productivity productivity tips routine Fri, 13 Jun 2008 12:59:49 +0000 Philip Brewer 2166 at Vision Boards: Dream Big, Play with Pictures, and Watch your Life Change <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vision-boards-dream-big-play-with-pictures-and-watch-your-life-change" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="vision board" title="vision board" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="172" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>As referenced to in a few previous articles <a href="/feeling-stuck-100-ways-to-change-your-life" target="_blank">here</a> and <a href="/the-prosperity-game-play-the-game-and-find-new-money-for-real" target="_blank">here</a>, you have the ability to change your life in amazing ways by opening up your creative juices and dreaming on a grand scale. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>A fun way to do this exercise (and something that the whole family can do) is to create a vision board. Here&#39;s how:</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <ol> <li><span><strong>Get a large piece of cardboard</strong> (the bigger the better, but try to make it at least three times bigger than a letter-sized piece of paper) - one for each family member doing this exercise. </span></li> <li><span><strong>Collect all the old magazines you can find.</strong> Ask friends for magazines they no longer want, ask the doctor&#39;s office for their old ones, and stockpile your own subscriptions. If you can, try to amass a variety of different magazines, and the more pictures they have, the better. </span></li> <li><span><strong>Go through the magazines</strong> and cut out pictures of places you want to go to, things you want to have, and images you want to make reality. You can also cut out words that are inspirational, or that represent further things you want to do or be in life. Just cut out anything that speaks to you on any level, even if you can&#39;t define it. </span></li> <li><span>Start pasting it all together! <strong>Create a collage</strong> on the cardboard of your pictures and inspirations. If you can&#39;t find pictures but know what you want, then draw it. Be as creative as you like…it isn&#39;t homework that the teacher is going to grade you on. </span></li> <li><span>Once complete, <strong>leave your vision board in a prominent place</strong> where you can look at it. Maybe you want it above your bathroom mirror to admire while you&#39;re getting ready in the morning. Maybe beside your bed so you can wake up and go to sleep with those visions in your mind. Maybe the fridge is the perfect place to remind yourself of your goals and dreams. </span></li> </ol> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>I did this a few years ago myself, and not only was it just plain fun to do, but I&#39;ve had a few startling realizations since then. When I created the board, I lived a very urban rich lifestyle. Interestingly none of my pictures were particularly material in nature; I didn&#39;t have a big house, fast car, or dollar bills in my vision board. I had a tent on the side of a remote waterfall in the mountains, a fit woman running through a lava field (a North Face running shoe ad), and a pen and paper as three of my prominent images. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span><img src="" alt="lava" width="249" height="187" align="right" /><img src="" alt="crescent falls" width="177" height="236" align="left" /></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Amazingly, the tent image became a reality when I sold everything and moved to the Rocky Mountains last year. The lava field image materialized when I found myself unexpectedly living in Hawaii for six months (where I currently am). And to complete that picture, I have lost weight and become considerably more fit since creating the vision board, and I even have the North Face running shoes (they were a gift). As for the pen and paper, they actually materialized for me as a lapt</span><span>op computer instead, as I travel the world and write for a living.</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>All this was &quot;dreamed up&quot; while I lived a very different life in a very different place. I had no expectations of that vision board ever becoming a reality; it was really just something fun to do. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>But in ways I could never have imagined, envisioning my future with pictures was actually an exercise in creating it. </span></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Vision Boards: Dream Big, Play with Pictures, and Watch your Life Change" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks Lifestyle Art and Leisure collage creativity setting goals vision board Mon, 18 Feb 2008 07:37:02 +0000 Nora Dunn 1814 at