Why Can’t You Think ‘Outside the Box’?

P18A9538Do you ever ask yourself such a question? Why is it so hard for us to think the way no one has ever thought before? Why are there so few genius inventors of unique products and theories?

Reasons

First of all, human beings are lazy by nature. We love our comfortable boxes, and thinking outside of them seems like too much work. Try to remember the last time you had a unique idea that nobody else has ever had before. Hard, isn’t it? It’s because we set a camp in our box and don’t want to get out. The world outside of it became too strange, too unpredictable. Hence, we don’t even take an effort to think differently, and expect great ideas to come to us in a magic way.

People are creatures of habit. We take the same route to work every day, eat the same kind of food, watch the same type of television. Rare individuals love changes, most of us are a bit scared of them. Thinking ‘outside the box’ requires implementing changes. Our brain will not think creatively if we don’t feed it new information.

One more reason is our personality. We all are wired in a certain way. ENTJs and ISFPs, cholerics and melancholics – all of us think and behave in the same way most of the time. Sometimes, it’s not that easy to recognise our own patterns because we’re too used to them. Therefore, we continue living in our own boxes being scared of the outside world.

Solutions

I could give you easy solutions, such as: take a new route to work, choose a new restaurant or take up a new hobby. I’ve already talked about it in my previous post ‘Why Breaking a Habit is So Important’. These are great ideas, but we will go the other way.

Let’s put our brain to work. We will try out one awesome creativity technique. In his book ‘Thinkertoys’ Michael Michalko emphasises one incredibly important thought: “To achieve that ray of insight, one must take the imaginative chance, abandon the usual way of looking at things, transcend the possible, and reach for the impossible.”

He gives us several examples of imagination-spurring questions that we could use to start thinking ‘outside the box’. Here are a few of them:

  • What if you had eyes in back of your head as well as the front?
  • What if human beings never died? How would this affect our personal, business, and religious lives?
  • What if trees suddenly started to produce petroleum in great quantities?
  • What if people slept 23 hours every day and were awake for only one hour?

These are just the examples. You can create your own questions that fit your situation better. Think, what angle of your problem always seemed too bazaar for you? Which direction have you never looked? Try to think of an idea or a solution that always seemed too crazy. Play a ‘what if’ game with yourself, and then, try to answer those questions.

The answers might give you new insight and lead you to new unique ideas absolutely outside the box. Just give it a try. There’s one thing though, it requires some work and some of your time.

If you’d like to get a step-by-step system to develop creativity, unleash your right brain and learn to generate ideas on demand, enroll in my new online Creativity Power Course. It’s a no nonsense, practical course packed with effective techniques and exercises. By the time you finish it, you will have developed a list of your own unique ideas for your specific project.

Join it here!

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Why Breaking a Habit Is So Important

Do you have more good habits than bad ones? Name three habits that you would like to get rid of right now. I could name five of them easily!

Most of us are dukes of habit, and it’s normal. Habits help us perform tasks that don’t require a lot of thinking. However, sometimes they become our enemies. When we do too many things without consideration, we don’t leave enough room for creativity. Our moves and our behaviors become predictable, and we don’t give ourselves enough food for new ideas.

If you want to train your creative muscle, it’s time to break some of those habits. They might be absolutely harmless, like taking a certain route to work, or sitting at a certain place at your dinner table. Nevertheless, try to change your standard way of thinking and doing things. Allow yourself to acquire new habits and adopt changes into your life.

Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Listen to a different radio station
  • Go to a new coffee shop
  • Choose a different kind of tea or coffee
  • Eat something unusual for breakfast
  • Go to a restaurant that you’ve never been before
  • Pick a newspaper that you’ve never read before
  • Try a new recipe
  • Go for a run instead of biking
  • Bike instead of going to a gym
  • Take up photography, dancing, pottery or any other new hobby
  • Try learning a new skill every month
  • Change your morning and evening routines

There could be more options, but I am sure you got the idea. The most important thing is to break the habitual cycles that block creative way of thinking. Try to change just one thing tomorrow, I dare you! 🙂  And then tell us which one you changed!

 

How to Be More Productive

P18A9498Do you remember your most productive day? What helped you stay focused and achieve your goals? I am sure you have several amazing tricks of your own. However, let me share with you my struggles and ideas first.

10 days ago I declared my personal war with procrastination and self-indulgence. There are only 24 hours in a day. Each minute is a gift, each second is precious. How dare we waste the moments of our life that we’ll never get back? Each moment is lived only once. I will never be 39 years 4 months 22 days old again. Ever!

My last several months have been a brutal struggle with procrastination. One day is amazingly productive, yet another one is a complete disaster. It exhausted me, annoyed me and ignited a burning desire to conquer this beast. That’s why my natural feistiness inspired me to start this personal war and invite others to keep me accountable.

So, here are a few things that usually help me stay productive throughout the day. These are not new ideas, although I need to remind myself of their importance regularly.

1.  Momentum

I am sure you’ve heard this physics term used in the area of business, achieving goals and success. When you start working on a task and suddenly find yourself engrossed in it, forgetting about time, that’s your momentum. You should catch it like a wave and ride it as far as possible.

Sometimes I would start writing a blog, preparing a lesson, working on a course, and the world around me ceases to exist. The work flows easily and without distractions, ideas come fast, and the process is enjoyable. This is momentum. I always have to remind myself to take the most of it and not waste this precious moment of inspiration.

2.  Focus

My biggest challenge and most important goal these days is focus. Momentum definitely helps to stay focused, but it doesn’t come first, it’s the result of a focused mind. Eliminate distractions, stay on a task without switching to another one, let the ideas flow and let the momentum kick in.

However, in my life focus is more than just working without interruptions. There are so many passions I want to pursue, so many causes my heart aches for! At the same time, my business, work and ministry throw numerous responsibilities at me. As a result, it’s getting harder, but also more crucial to stay focused.

3.  Pressure

All people are different. Perhaps, for somebody the pressure of a deadline is stressful and overwhelming. For me, a chronicle procrastinator, it’s a safe boat. I set deadlines for myself if nobody does it for me, and then, it’s up to pressure to play the role of a motivator.

In conclusion, let’s look at all three points. What’s your favorite? Mine is number one – momentum. It’s the most enjoyable one!

What are your techniques and methods to stay productive? Please share in the comments and help me in my war with procrastination. You can keep me accountable following my Instagram account – natasha_baz.

17 Best Creativity Quotes

Creativity has been my favorite topic for years. At the same time, I’ve always loved to collect quotes that inspired me. Let me share with you these 17 great creativity quotes which provoke new way of thinking and encourage re-evaluation of old views. May they inspire you too!

  1. “Creativity takes courage. ” – Henri Matisse
  2. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso
  3. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
  4. “Doors are for people with no imagination.” – Derek Landy
  5. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson
  6. “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein
  7. “The thing is to become a master and in your old age to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing. ” – Ernest Hemingway
  8. “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams
  9. “Creativity is the greatest expression of liberty.” – Bryant H. McGill
  10. “Negativity is the enemy of creativity.” – David Lynch
  11. “Creators are creative because they believe they are creative.” – Michael Michalko
  12. “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin Land
  13. “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso
  14. “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club” – Jack London
  15. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss
  16. “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not’?” – George Bernard Shaw
  17. “Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

If you’re interested in learning how to develop creativity and generate ideas on demand, get my FREE guide to Creativity Power! It’s based on a lot of research and years of experience.

To Sleep or Not to Sleep, That Is The Question

150513194606-01-better-sleep-exlarge-169It’s not really a question, whether we should sleep or not. A lot of research proves that sleep is extremely important for being able to function normally during the day. However, the biggest question for me is – how much and when.

Should I sleep 7-8 hours like Arianna Huffington and many others suggest? Or should I sleep 5-6 hours like many successful entrepreneurs claim they do? When should we go to bed and when is it better to wake up? There are so many controversial opinions, and all of them seem credible. How can we choose the right answer for us?

As a matter of fact, having read a lot of articles and books on productivity, I can say that everything is individualized. We all should experiment and find our own perfect magic number.

How much?

In fact, in the last two years I’ve been experimenting with sleep and got interesting results. It seems my perfect number is 6.15 – 6 hours, 15 minutes. Presumably, this is the amount of sleep that my body needs to feel rested and wake up energized. Several experiments showed that sleeping even a few minutes longer made me groggy and tired. However, there were cases when I slept 5 hours 15 minutes or 7 hours 15 minutes, and the result was also not bad.

When?

Another question arises – when should we go to bed and wake up? I think it depends on your schedule. Some people can go to bed early because they are home after 6. For others (like me) it’s impossible because we come home from work after 10. In the same way, it’s hard to state one perfect formula for getting up in the morning.

Another set of my experiments proved that going to bed before 12 am helps to sleep more efficiently. I wake up more rested than after going to bed at 2 am, even if the amount of sleep was less.

Conclusions

All things considered, we can make a conclusion – every person is unique. You should try to experiment and find your own formula of efficient sleep.

Share with us in the comments below what is the best time for you to go to bed and wake up. How much do you usually sleep? Is it easy for you to get out of bed?

How to Become a Marathoner

TUK_2301Have you ever wondered if running a marathon or at least a 10K is for you? I want to assure you – yes it is. If you think you can’t do it, I have good news for you, my friend. Anybody can do it with enough motivation and training.

Almost 6 years ago my friend encouraged me to run a marathon. “No way!”, I said to him then. Little did I know that one year later he would be meeting me at the finish line of my first marathon in rainy Venice.

So, what do you need to run your first marathon? I will share 5 most important points with you. In the same way, you can apply them to a half-marathon or any other race. As a matter of fact, it’s much wiser to start with an easier race than 26 miles. So, let’s dive in.

1. Motivation

If you’ve ever tried to accomplish anything without motivation, you know how hard it may be. You could force yourself, but it won’t last long. Eventually, you will say to yourself – enough, I’m done with this. Motivation is what keeps us going. It’s like fuel for a car or power for a computer.

Find your motivation. Would you like to lose weight and feel more confident about the way you look? Or maybe, you have been running for years, and now you feel like it’s time to take it to another level? Perhaps, you’re like me, and you need an upcoming race to motivate you to run every day. Whatever it is that drives you, use it for your benefit. Take advantage of it and let it motivate you to start preparing for your first marathon.

Strangely enough, but my decision to run that first marathon was motivated by the desire to show my boyfriend that I can. I was also desperately trying to connect with him and running was our common interest. Paradoxically, we broke up two days after the race, but I am still thankful to him for inspiring me to run a marathon. It was an incredible experience and honestly, it got me addicted. There’s nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line and hearing the cheer of hundreds of people you don’t even know!!!

2. A race planned

Frankly speaking, I am not a very disciplined person. I always strive to be one, but it doesn’t come easy. So, getting myself out of bed and out of the apartment to go for a run is a constant struggle. There’s one huge motivation that helps me get into running clothes and get out of the door – a future marathon or a half-marathon.

My friend Debbie and I love traveling to different cities and countries to run races. It’s our way of seeing the world and experience new cultures. Moreover, it’s a great motivator for me – if we have a race scheduled, I know I have to train for it.

LGC_5132Therefore, after you got your motivation to become a marathoner, you need to plan a race. First of all, check if there’s one nearby. Probably, there’s a marathon or a half coming up in your own city. Otherwise, look through possibilities to travel within your country or even abroad. Believe me, it’s going to be a fascinating adventure for you and those you’ll be traveling with.

 3. Training for a race

As soon as you have a race scheduled, it’s time to start training for it. There are lots of different training plans for beginners. If you can’t find anything decent, message me, and I will send you the plan I was using for many years. It’s doable even for those who don’t like to run much, but would love to finish a marathon.

Training for a race is extremely important even if you don’t care about the result, but only hope to finish. Your legs and your whole body are most likely not used to such extreme challenge. You need to train your muscles, your core and your legs so that on the race day you can endure pain and fatigue.

Don’t try to run without preparation. You might be able to accomplish it, but the consequences will show themselves much later.

4. Clothes

When I first started running, I didn’t think much about clothes. I grabbed the first thing that looked like it was for fitness, put it on and went out. Later, when my milage started growing, I realised how crucial it was to wear the right shoes and the right clothes.

For instance, if you run in a cotton T-shirt or shorts made of natural fabric, you might have bloody wounds on your skin after 40-60 min of running. It turns out to avoid chafing you should run in clothes made of wicking material. It will absorb moisture and won’t rub your skin creating sores.

Similarly, you should be careful with what type of running shoes you’re wearing. A lot of people try minimalist shoes nowadays. I am a big fan of my 4 mm heel drop shoes – they are light, easy to run in and have helped me avoid injury for 5 years already. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to clothes and shoes. So, I might write a separate blog just about that. The story of my experiment with “barefoot” running is worth telling.

5. Food

When you’re preparing for a race, it’s very important to watch what you eat. First and foremost, fat, greasy food should be avoided. It’s bad for us even if we’re not going to run a marathon. Next, you need to make sure you have a balanced diet – protein, unsaturated fats, carbohydrates, necessary minerals and vitamins.

TUK_2108Also, when your race day is approaching, it’s important to train your body to eat the same food before the long run. In this case you will know what to expect when you have the same meal the evening before your marathon. Usually people try to eat carbs (pasta, not greasy pizza) the evening before and something light in the morning. A piece of white bread with jam or honey and a banana for breakfast have worked miracles for me.

Another thing to remember is fuelling during your marathon. If you’re going to run a 5K or a 10K, even a half-marathon, you might be ok without any food during the race. However, if you plan to run 26 miles (42 km), it’s important to have special energy gels or bars along with you. Don’t forget to try them during your training. Your body should be used to them and not surprise you with sudden cramps at the race.

Bringing it all together

In conclusion, running a marathon is an incredible adventure that is totally worth our efforts. When you cross the finish line, the feeling of relief, accomplishment and personal victory will be a great reward for everything that you have to endure.

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!