Who Wants to Generate Ideas on Demand?

Creativity (2)Whether you’re a writer, a businessman, or an accountant, you constantly need ideas. Sometimes, you try to come up with easier ways to solve certain problems. Sometimes, you are in a process of creating a new product, a new method, or a new advertising campaign.

Maybe, you need ideas to persuade somebody, organize something, or resolve a relationship issue. In any case, we all would benefit a lot from the skill of generating ideas whenever we need them, on demand.

There are lots of techniques which could help you in this task. I will share with you those methods that I’ve used and that proved effective.

1. Diversify your brainstorming.

The easiest way to do that is, of course, bullet points. Just take a sheet of paper or open a new document in your computer and start writing. Put in all ideas that come to your mind without criticizing them. Another way you can brainstorm is use mind mapping. We won’t go into detail, but if you’re interested, google it.

However, my favorite method is the following. I write ideas on small pieces of paper or sticky notes, one idea per a note. Then I organize them, rearrange them, put them into categories and write a plan on how to apply the best ones. This way is the best because you can see all ideas in front of you on the table, floor or board. It’s easy and very convenient.

2. SCAMPER

In his book Thinkertoys Michael Michalko reveals several great techniques. SCAMPER is one of them. It’s a checklist of idea-spurring questions. I want to mention this technique because it includes several different methods and ways to generate ideas.

First of all state the challenge or subject you want to think about. Then ask SCAMPER questions about each step of the challenge and see what new ideas come to your mind.

 

  • What can I SUBSTITUTE?
  • What can I COMBINE?
  • What can I ADAPT?
  • How can it be MODIFIED or MAGNIFIED?
  • How can I PUT it to other use?
  • What can I ELIMINATE?
  • What is the REVERSE of this?
  • What REARRANGEMENT might be better?

3. Create your own image board.

Another great way to inspire the birth of ideas is to create a board of images. As you are working on a challenge, select pictures, photographs, or diagrams that are relevant to your target and pin them to the board. Some people make a special folder in their computer and open it whenever they need inspiration.

Most of us think visually, not verbally. I remember when a picture of a road gave me an idea for the logo of my new company.

4. Take a break.

I love this technique because it’s simple and works 90% of the time. It’s based on the information in the book by Barbara Oakley A Mind for Numbers. She argues that our brain works in two modes: focused and diffuse. If you need to come up with an idea or a solution to your problem, focus on the challenge for some time and then take a break. Go for a run, make yourself a cup of tea, take a short nap or do anything else that would distract your brain from the challenge at hand. Your brain will be forced to get into the diffuse mode and it will be looking for the solution while you’re resting.

There are several examples of well-known individuals who used this technique in their creative processes. Among them are Salvador Dali and Thomas Edison. I can personally testify that it works. Whenever I feel stuck trying to come with an idea or a solution, a little break works magic. Try it yourself.

These are four best techniques to come up with awesome ideas on demand. There are many more in my Creativity Power course that will be launched in June. If you would like to learn more about creativity and generate unique ideas, download my FREE Guide to Finding Ideas and Solutions. 

Enjoy your life and shine your light! This world will benefit from your ideas!

3 Best Ways To Start Thinking In A Foreign Language

Are you currently learning any foreign language? Do you think in that language or still translate every sentence in your head?

I have been an English learner for more than 30 years and an English teacher for more than 17 years. At first, of course, it was impossible to think in English. However, the more time I spent learning it, the easier it became to make English my second native language. Now I think mostly in English, and my dreams are often in English too.

So, I do believe it’s possible to start thinking in a foreign language if your goal is to master it and not just learn a few phrases for traveling. Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Every day spend at least 30 min doing something in your target language.

You may do your hometask, read or write something, watch a movie or communicate with a native speaker. I am saying “30 min”, but the main thing here is consistency. The more time you spend doing something in your target language, the faster you will master it. Start small and increase the time as you go.

2. Whenever you put your thoughts on paper, do it in your target language.

If you like journaling, do it in a language that you’re learning. If you like to make plans, write down your goals, do it in your target language. You will be sending signals to your brain saying that this is the language you want to start thinking in.

3. Whenever you are trying to express your thoughts, choose the easiest words and structures.

Don’t take me wrong, I think to say that you’ve mastered the language, means you can use complex structures and advanced vocabulary. Although, don’t forget a very important universal rule, my friends: baby-steps! You can achieve a lot if you take small steps but regularly and consistently. I’ve seen it so often when people start translating complicated sentences from their native language and get stuck because they don’t have enough vocabulary and don’t know all grammar structures. Give yourself a break! Choose simple words that come to your mind for now. There will be times after you have read tons of books in your target language when your speech will become sophisticated and you will be able to impress your audience!

These are the main rules. I will continue this topic later and will be adding more ideas and methods for you. We could definitely add the importance of reading and watching movies in your target language, but it seems too obvious. So, let’s just stop at these three for now. Baby-steps :)! Enjoy!

 

 

 

How to Effectively Combine Work and Rest

If you’re an achiever like me, you will understand this obsessive need to always stay productive. We all know that relaxation and distraction are important for our brain. Although, a lot of us keep feeling guilty when we’re not doing something related to work or personal development.

So, there are solutions for people like us. We can combine rest and work. You might tell me it doesn’t work because we should completely focus whether on one thing or on another for them to be effective. And I will disagree. It’s pretty easy to do both things if your work doesn’t require a lot of thinking and your entertainment is not too distracting.

Here are a few ideas:
1. You are watching a movie with your friends, family or by yourself. You have seen this movie before or it’s so light that it doesn’t require a lot of attention to keep track. So, you find some work to do that also doesn’t require too much thought. It could be typing in some information, ironing, folding, cleaning your inbox, reorganizing your desktop or folders in your computer, editing pictures, etc.
2. You’re out with friends or family and have to wait for someone in the car or at the lobby – get a piece of paper and a pen or open your smartphone. But don’t go to Facebook or Instagram. This is the time for brainstorming ideas, writing to-do lists or making preliminary plans. You will have to review everything you’ve written later, but this will be a great start.
3. Are you flying internationally or waiting at the airport for your next flight? Reading is a great and a very productive way of spending this precious time. You can also write blogs or make notes for future projects if you’ve got a few hours of uninterrupted time. I am actually writing this on the plane from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.
4. There are a few applications for smartphones that I consider very useful. They can be entertaining as well as very helpful for our personal growth and development. My favorite ones are Lumosity and Elevate. You can use any game that helps learn a language or develop some skill. It’s fun and productive!
5. And the last one is really important because it requires a change of our mindset. When you’re watching a movie, traveling to another country, resting on a beach, eating at a restaurant, be always on the watch for ideas. They are all around you, you just need to open your eyes and be ready to see them. Keep record of all ideas that come to your mind even if they seem crazy or mundane. One day you might get back to them and find a genius one that you discarded before.

See? Our vacation time can be very productive and effective. Don’t waste your time in life, we haven’t got that much of it. Having said that I’ll add that it’s absolutely crucial to find some time for relaxation, distraction and unwinding. Our brain needs that to be able to function normally and generate ideas.

Enjoy all your weekends and vacation time, and learn how to put off work and just rest sometimes.

7 Best Winter Activities

“Winter is coming!” – this is the phrase they have been saying in Games of Thrones for 5 seasons and finally “Winter is here!” Well, it’s been here for more than a month already, but I got to write this post only now.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons. Other favorites are spring and summer, but winter is probably the most fun. Christmas and New Year is in winter, my birthday is in winter, and skiing is in winter!

So, let’s start the list:

  1. The very first and most fun activity for me is downhill skiing. Do you like freedom and elegance? Put on a pair of skis and prepare to fly! The excitement of speed and the elegance of flight is what attracts me in this sport.
  2. Some of you will argue with me and say that snowboarding is better. I would just say, it’s also fun but it’s different. Tastes differ, so if you prefer snowboarding, go for it!
  3. In the previous post I talked about running in cold weather. Believe me, it’s much more fun than you might think. It’s challenging and refreshing, and the feeling after the run is incomparable!
  4. Do you like ice-skating? I love it! This is another activity that is beautiful and elegant. It’s like dancing on ice, what can be more graceful?
  5. If you have hills in your town, go sledging with your child or with your friends. I don’t think there’s any age limit for that even though it’s considered for children. We’re all kids in our own way.
  6. Are you fond of fishing? If yes, then it’s the best time for you to go ice-fishing. This is one thing I could never understand, but I know a lot of people love it.
  7. And if you are not that much into outdoors, you can just curl up on a couch with a great book and a cup of hot chocolate. Isn’t that one of the best things about winter? Another variation of this would be a good movie with friends or even by yourself.

The most important aspect of all these activities is that you enjoy them. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. Life is full of amazing wonderful moments, and we should cherish each one of them.

7 Rules for Running In Cold Weather

7679767b-f6c7-4e0e-b557-8c8b2b5eba37If you’re interested in running, I bet you also like to do that in different places of the world and in the variety of weather. It makes it more exciting, challenging and unique. One of the best things about traveling is that you get to run in all these wonderful countries, cities and states that can be pretty diverse and absolutely fascinating!

Recently, I had a chance to travel from cold Ukraine to warm and sunny Arizona and then five days later to snowy Minnesota. It’s an incredible experience to be able to run in just a T-shirt and then almost right away to have to put on tons of cloths and endure minus 15 F which is minus 26 C.

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So, here are some tips for those who don’t want to wait for spring and are ready to run in cold weather. And when I say “cold”, I mean below zero whether in C or in F.

  1. First of all, make sure you don’t dress too warmly. A lot of people think that because it’s cold they have to put on warm jackets or a lot of sweaters underneath. Big mistake! You will start running and very soon it will be unbearable. You’ll get too hot and too uncomfortable.
  2. It’s better to put on layers, and nothing should be too warm. Pick a base layer, a fleece and a running jacket or another very light kind of jacket.
  3. If you’ve always been wearing tights for running, make sure you have special ones for winter or be ready to put on shorts underneath or on top of them. Another choice would be to put on sweat pants on top of your tights. When the temperature is below freezing, your legs might get too cold especially if the wind is strong.
  4. I assume everybody knows it’s important to wear gloves, although if the temperature is below -10 F, you might want to wear two pairs of gloves.
  5. The same goes for a hat. A few days ago I ran in only one hat and got extremely cold. Of course it was about -17 F or -28 C with windchill. It felt like my head was going to explode. So, don’t forget to put on two hats and two pairs of gloves.
  6. I always wear a buff around my neck and usually pull it up on my nose when running in a freezing cold weather. Although, a few days ago it was not enough anymore. I had to also put on a scarf which made quite a bit of a difference.
  7. A lot of times when it’s this cold, the sun rays are extremely bright. So, a pair of sunglasses would be a must. The combination of sun and snow have the potential to burn the surface of our eyes, causing a temporary but painful condition known as photokeratitis.

One more additional rule would be to put on extra lotion on your face before getting out of the door. Last week I made a mistake of forgetting to do that. The result was horrendous – my face got covered with red spots because of extremely cold wind and for two days I looked like I had just eaten tons of chocolate.

So, if you are not afraid of challenges and love to test your level of endurance, if you’re a strong personality ready to take it to another level, try this amazing experience of running in cold weather. It’s usually incredibly beautiful when it’s this cold! You will love it! And I am sure, you’ll feel really good about yourself afterwards.

What to Do At The Airport

img_0439Have you ever been stuck at the airport for more than 3 hours? When it’s only a 3-hour layover, it’s nothing. By the time you get from one terminal to another (or just from one part of the airport to another), go through the security check and find your gate, it could easily take 2 and a half hours.

Although, if you have to wait for 5 to 8 hours, it could get really boring.

Here’s what I usually do:
1. First, I need to find my gate and sort of understand the direction that I will have to go as soon as it’s time. It’s important to have an idea how long it will take me to get there from different parts of the airport.
2. Then, if I have more than 5 hours to kill, I like to find a nice comfortable place to sit or even lie down. In Amsterdam they have reclining chairs for that in different areas of the airport. It could be a bean bag chair or just a soft nice couch, or an armchair.
3. If I am really tired I try to take a nap but put my carry-on or my purse under my head, like a pillow. In this case nobody will steal it from you.
4. After resting for some time, it’s time to look around. I prefer to go to the book shop or a souvenir store. In a book shop you can just take a book and dive into at least a few pages. You don’t even have to buy a book, just kind of get an idea what you would want to read in the future. I usually download my books to my awesome little Kindle Paperwhite.
5. And all souvenir stores can tell you so much about the culture of the country you’re in, that it’s worth spending at least half an hour there.
6. And the last thing I like to do before actually going to my gate is find a nice inexpensive café and have tea or even a meal there. You can order something familiar or try authentic national food. I am usually not a big risk taker when it comes to food, so I often get a sandwich and a drink.
7. Of course, my favorite thing to do at the airport is read. It’s one of those few opportunities to dive into the book without feeling guilty because you need to get back to work. I read while sitting ata café, resting on a comfy chair or just waiting for my flight at the gate.

So, this is my routine. What do you usually do? Could you share some tips?

Power of Being Thankful

It’s very simple – just be thankful for everything that you have in your life. You might think – well, what’s the point, I AM thankful.

Here’s the deal – next time something bad or stressful happens in your life, stop all your negative thoughts before they destroy you and deliberately start thinking of everything you can be thankful for. You might not feel that way at first, it doesn’t matter, just do it. Start making a list, whether it’s in your head or on a piece of paper. It will distract you from negative thoughts and show how wonderful your life actually is!

There’s great power in being grateful! Let’s tap into it!