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! ūüôā ¬†And then tell us which one you changed!

 

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?

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!

5 Ways A Second Language Boosts Your Creativity

Everybody knows how important it is to learn new languages. Your brain activity improves, the risk of getting dementia or Alzheimers decreases, new opportunities for career growth arise, traveling becomes easier and more fun. I could enumerate many more but we will focus on one crucial reason – creativity development. If we choose the skill that’s in the biggest demand in the world right now, creativity will definitely be the one.

So, what are the ways learning a second language can help you boost your creativity?

  1. Leave your comfort zone.

We all understand that new ideas arrive as soon as we start doing something unusual for us. I’m sure you heard phrases “think outside the box” and “get out of your comfort zone”. Why does our brain require new information and fresh circumstances for creative juices to start flowing? Well, tell me, do you like eating the same food every day for months? I can eat the same dish for a few days, but not more. Our creative brain also gets tired of the same food and will appreciate new challenges. Learning a new language will force you to leave your comfort zone. It’s something new and unusual, it’s challenging and fun!

     2. See the world differently.

If we want to develop creativity, it’s important to open our eyes to new things. When I started working on this¬†skill, one of the tasks was to pay attention to the world around me. And that’s when an amazing thing happened – I started seeing details, noticing places that I have never seen before. Learning a second language teaches us to pay attention, discovers a totally new world for us. It gives us new eyes for structures that we’ve never used before in our native language.

     3. Learn about new cultures.

One of the ways to learn the language faster is to immerse yourself into the culture of your target language. Read about the traditions and the history of that particular nation. Travel to the countries where people speak the language you’re learning. Communicate with native speakers and try to learn about their culture as much as possible. All of this will not only help you master the language, but will also create new pathways in your brain and help develop creativity.

     4. Change the way you think.

When we’re in the process of learning a second language, we encounter a lot of new structures and words that make us think differently. I always encourage my students to start thinking in their target language. When they do that, it changes the way their brain works and the way they think. For our creativity to flourish we also need to learn how to think differently. Is it hard? I don’t think so. It’s just something we’re not used to.

     5. Use memory techniques.

Have you ever learnt new words in a second language? It can be pretty challenging. If you want to make this process easier and more fun, you will start using various memorisation techniques: finding associations, creating images, making up sentences and stories with them. All these and many other techniques involve our creative muscle. The more you use your creativity, the stronger it becomes. Just like with everything else Рthe more you practice, the better you get at it.

Let’s bring it all together. The conclusion is obvious: learning a new language will help you boost your creativity, develop your brain and achieve more in life. The next step is to decide what language to learn!

If you could learn any language in the world in three months, which language would you choose?

 

 

Why I Decided to Become a Morning Person or How To Boost Your Productivity

ringing-alarm-clock-28496894People keep asking me why I would want to torture myself and get up early in the morning when I always was a night owl. Why would I want to change my natural way of existence and start doing something that doesn’t come that easy? I will tell you why!

I am not saying everybody should do it. A lot of people are satisfied with the way things are in their life. I wasn’t. At a certain point I realized there wasn’t enough time in my day and something had to change.

No, this is my biggest reason to become a morning person РNEED FOR CHANGE.

I always knew staying up till 2 am and sleeping till 9 or 10 wasn’t the best choice. I would wake up groggy, take too much time for psyching up before actually starting my work. However, I had justified it by calling myself a night owl and saying – that’s just how my body works.¬†The truth is – I didn’t have a big enough reason and a need for change.

So, about 2 years ago I got a dream and with it came a reason. To make that dream come true I needed more hours in my working day. Where can I get them? РI asked myself. And the answer was easy Рgo to bed at 11 pm (those late hours had been spent aimlessly most of the time anyway) and wake up at 6 am. Immediately, I received 3 extra hours in the morning for reading, prayer, exercise and preparation for the working day. It made so much difference to start the day right. Productivity boost was incredible.

If you feel you don’t have enough time to get everything done; if you would like to change your life and achieve bigger goals; if you have an ambitious dream, but it seems unrealistic because your life is a mess, start waking up earlier. Get your life in order. Read, eat, sleep and exercise. And what’s more important – do it right.

 

 

Judge or Not Judge?

HW8_7804Why is it so hard not to judge people? Why do we have such an obsessive need to express our opinions even if nobody cares and nobody wants to hear them?

About a decade ago I used to think that being opinionated is cool. One of my closest friends called me opinionated, and I was almost proud of that. But times change, and it sounds almost like an insult now.

There are three facts that I want to say about judging others.

  1. We can’t help it.

Is it in our nature? I want to say – no, but unfortunately, I can’t. We were not created with this need to judge everybody. However, we were created with the free will to whether say what we think or keep silent. And our twisted human nature just can’t let us be silent. Our twisted mind can’t help it. Whether out loud or in our head, we start judging and spraying poison onto our relationships.

2. We even love it.

Recently, an old classic best-seller caught my attention, and I decided to finally read it. I am sure you’ve heard about it – it’s Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. He wrote this book in 1930s, and the lessons from it are still relevant. He talks a lot about the human nature and emphasizes that we’re all selfish. Each person spends 95% of the day thinking about him- or herself. Most of us love the sound of our own name and prefer talking about ourselves rather than listening to others.

So, to sum up, we love ourselves more than anything.¬†We care about our needs, desires and opinions more than about anybody in the whole world. And sometimes it all turns into judgement of others. And then this judgement turns into gossiping. And we start savoring it, enjoying it, like it’s the most delectable dish we’ve ever eaten in our life.

3. We should stop it.

How can we stop it? Is it even possible? Maybe it’s hard to stop doing it completely, but we should at least try. And then try again. And after the next failure we will not give up, but try once more. And it will work. With God’s help, we can fight it and defeat it!

I know, we can’t do it alone, but we can help each other. If you hear me being judgmental, say it directly to my face. Especially when I judge those who judge, because that’s my problem. I judge judgmental people and can’t help it. It poisons my mood and darkens my days. Help me fight it and join this battle together with me!

You ARE Creative – and don’t tell me you’re not!

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!