Do you have a busy life? What a silly question. We all do. This is the era of busy people. But you know what? I read a quote not that long ago, that ‘busy is a decision’. We create our impossible schedules and become their prisoners. And then we’re forced to answer to our friends and family: “I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m really busy.”
Have you ever wondered how you could start reading more books in the midst of your hectic life? It seems almost impossible to find time if you have several kids, a demanding job, a husband or a wife. Or maybe you have none of that, but your schedule is so full there seems to be no time for reading.
When I was a kid, I used to go to the library to choose a new book. It was always a magical time and one of my favorite activities. You go from one bookshelf to another, looking through the names of book and writers. It’s so peaceful and quiet. You’re deciding which world you’d like to immerse yourself into this time.
And then life happened – university, work, a busy schedule, new priorities, and as a result – only a few books a year.
I remember craving books. I remember being hungry for more reading. It even inspired me to take speed reading classes so I could devour more books in less time. And still, it wasn’t enough. More tasks, longer to-do lists and new responsibilities kept creeping into my life and pushing books out of it.
However, there was one decision which changed everything for me. About two years ago I made reading one of my life priorities. I set a goal to read 50 books a year, and … I read only 25. Do you think it was a failure? Not at all! It was twice more than the year before.
The next year I set a goal to read 30 books and … succeeded!!!
So, here’re a few ideas for you to start reading more even though your life gets busier every month of the year.
Make reading your priority.
It doesn’t have to be your number one priority, but at least it shouldn’t be at the end of the list. Remind yourself why you want to start reading more. Is it a relaxing time for you when you unwind and recharge? Is it important for your personal growth and professional development? Define your WHY.
2. Listen to audiobooks while running, walking, cleaning or doing other chores.
Sometimes I even listen to audiobooks when I’m brushing my teeth or taking a shower (if I don’t have to wash my hair :)). If you sign up for a half or a full marathon, you’ll have plenty of time to listen to your audiobooks during training runs.
3. Read on commute.
This is a popular advice for reading more and also for using time productively. If you have to travel by public transportation to or from work, always carry a book with you. You’ll enjoy this time more and at the same time feel like you’ve spent it very efficiently.
4. Choose small books every once in a while. Alternate between big and small.
Sometimes people take books which are too big and too boring for them just because someone said they’re good. Choose the ones which will excite you, enchant you, or fascinate you. Even if it’s an educative, self-help book, it may be absolutely engrossing if you learn something new or see a real value in it.
Alternate between big, complicated books and small easy books. Here’s the list of short classic books that won’t take much of your time but will enrich you and fascinate you. Follow this link to read the article in Huffington post.
5. Read at least 15 minutes after waking up and 15 minutes before going to bed.
Consistency is the key. If you make a decision to read a little bit, but regularly, you will be amazed by your progress. Most of the time people think: “I don’t have time now. I have to get to bed,” or “I have to go to work.” But if it’s just 10-15 minutes it will feel like nothing, and, at the same time, it will be enough to help you finish the book in a few weeks or months.
Try some of these tips and share your own advice. What helped you start reading more? What books would you recommend me? I love sci-fi, drama, historical, self-help, psychological, business and many other types of books.
Do you think you have good imagination? I think you do. If you disagree, maybe, you just need to feed it more often. Give it some food every once in a while and it will pay you back with boosted creativity, unique ideas and spot on solutions.
I used to think I am not a creative person. Then several incredible books and videos changed my understanding of this notion. The problem was connected with my inability to use creative power and God-given imagination. Even though my rich imagination was always a source of entertainment for me, I didn’t connect it with creativity. It took me years to learn how to use it. What’s even more important, it took me too long to realize the huge value of our imagination. Its effect on our creative abilities, critical thinking, and decision making process can’t be overestimated.
So, let’s dive into 10 ways to feed our imagination.
This is probably the most obvious one of all, that’s why it’s number one. When you read a book or listen to an audio-book, you can’t help but imagine what is going on. Your brain creates images and stores them in its supreme filing system. You will be able to retrieve those images when you need them.
First, I wanted to say, read fiction – it will feed your imagination more. However, there were lots of non-fiction, educational, spiritual and self-help books that gave me most useful ideas and inspired me incredibly.
Yes, I know. Movies and TV shows can be very addictive. They can throw you into the prison of wasting time, and the escape is not that easy. I’ve been in that prison and still get there once in a while. And nevertheless, watching movies and TV shows in moderation is good for us. Good quality films and serials are made by creative people who spent thousands of hours using their own imagination. I am sure we can learn from them, tap into their creativity and draw out a few ideas for ourselves.
There is a variety of opportunities unfolding in front of us when we think of art. You can be a spectator or a participant of art. Go to a dancing show or take dancing lessons. Attend a concert or learn how to play a musical instrument. Visit a museum or participate in a pottery master class. Musicals and plays, opera and architecture, exhibitions and galleries – all of this is the endless source of nourishment for our imagination.
Have you heard of TED talks? In the last several years these short speeches have been my constant source of inspiration. Go to http://www.ted.com, and you will see: their mission is to spread ideas. It kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
Do you have a favorite speaker? I have several and like to watch them on YouTube or TED regularly. There are two or three preachers whose sermons I especially enjoy, and who motivate me to grow spiritually. So, choose those speakers who inspire you the most. Find the way to watch their speeches on a regular basis and your imagination will never go hungry.
5. Educational events
Just like speeches and talk, educational events can boost our creativity and feed our brain new ideas. You can attend a conference, a seminar or a even a webinar. Go to a workshop, a master class or participate in a convention. Usually such events give us an opportunity to meet new interesting people. You will hear speeches, learn new information, get a new experience and have a chance to interact with other creative individuals.
6. New Experiences
Several points on this list can be seen as new experiences. I am sure you are aware of our brain’s feature to develop connections between neurons when we learn something new. That’s how our intellectual abilities grow and our creativity flourishes. New researches show that our hippocampus even continues to create new cells into old age.
So, when will those new cells appear? The moment you experience something new. Another question: where can you get a new experience? Go to your friend’s party and meet new people. Take up a new hobby. Do something you have never done before. Try new food, travel to new places, jump with a parachute or go hiking. The sky is the limit.
I know I already mentioned travel before, but it’s so important that it deserves special attention. Seeing new countries, cities, and continents broadens our worldview, expands our horizons, develops our brain and, of course, feeds our imagination. Saint Augustine said: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” So, it’s time for you to open this book and start reading one page after another.
8. Walks in the nature
Do you live in the city or in the country? Are you stuck at the office all day? How often do you get in touch with the nature? There is SO much it can teach us! God’s creation is magnificent! The beauty of it is mesmerizing! Take a walk in the park, go to the nearest river or lake. Look around and allow yourself to relax. Your brain craves that so much. So, give it what it wants, because, oh man, you do owe it.
9. Time with friends
I can say without a doubt that my friends have always been my inspiration and the biggest gift of all. Of course, you can brainstorm with your friends and deliberately work on generating ideas together. However, you can even just spend time with them, talk, laugh, cry, and have fun.
Surround yourself with creative people and constantly learn from them. And since everybody is creative, you can just spend quality time with your friends. Pick their brain, ask them questions, discuss the topics you’re both interested in. Your imagination will thank you later.
And finally, my favorite one. Oh, daydreaming… I used to think it was a huge waste of time and a sign of weakness. And, of course, it can become pretty addictive and kill our productivity, but it can also be very useful. Daydreaming for our imagination is like weight lifting for our body. It builds our creative muscle. It helps us create images in our brain that never existed in reality. That’s pure imagination, my friends.
Sometimes I create whole movies in my head visualizing myself in various desired situations. What a treat it is sometimes to go into that imagined world. What are the benefits if that, you will ask? Lots of them. It’s a workout for my brain and for my imagination. It helps me live through situations that I will have to go through in reality. It gives me more confidence in the real world. It boosts my creativity and inspires me to pursue my goals and dreams!
A little piece of advice – don’t ever get sucked into your own daydreaming. Be reasonable.
Bringing it all together
There is an enormous number of ways to feed your imagination. Get on with it. Don’t underestimate the value of it for your life and your professional career. Good luck!
If there’s one most important fact I can tell people about creativity, it’s that all of us are creative just in different ways. The saddest thing I hear over and over from my friends and students (most of whom have become my friends) is, “I’m not creative.” That is SO not true!
Read Ken Robinson, Betty Edwards, Michael Michalko and many others who are saying – we all have this quality. Creativity is a skill that needs to be developed. It’s like reading or writing. You wouldn’t tell a child who doesn’t read very well, “Well, it’s just not for you. It’s not your thing.” No, you would encourage a child to keep practicing and finally achieve a certain level of literacy. The same with creativity. We all have it, in some of us it’s hidden and needs to be found. Learn how to tap into your creativity and unleash that incredible potential.
Some people are creative in art, others in business. Some will find better solutions in math, others in relationships with people. There are inventions in science and new approaches on construction sites.
Stop thinking you’re not creative. This attitude poisons your future and kills your opportunities. Instead, believe in yourself, in your ability to generate ideas, and start doing your best to develop this incredible skill!
Have I already told you about the “Miracle Morning’ book by Hal Elrod? It will be surprising if I haven’t. Last summer I stumbled upon this book in one of the articles on the Internet. It was recommended for those who want to become more disciplined, take hold of their life and improve productivity. I had recently started my business and it was just what I needed.
As it turns out, the inspiration that we get from reading self-help literature usually doesn’t last long. It’s crucial to keep reminding ourselves of our vision, mission and goals in life. Only constant focus on my main purpose helps me beat the desire to sleep in the morning. Sometimes the battle is agonizing. Sometimes the bed is too luring for me, and it wins the battle. However, when I remember what drives me in this life, why I was created in the first place, it’s easier to fight and win.
As soon as the battle is over and the morning begins, everything is easy. Hal Elrod gives several very important tips on how to start our day right. Some of these tips include drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, forget about the snooze button, create our personal morning routine, etc. These are not new ideas or techniques, but he explains everything in a very motivational way.
If you haven’t read this book and would really love to change your life, become more productive, successful and just plain happier – read it by all means!!! And what’s more important, start implementing it right away. You will see changes in your life, I have no doubt in that!
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!
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.