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!

Creativity Power (1)

 

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.

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 – the 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?

 

 

Overcome Fear

What is fear, really? “An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” It’s just an emotion, sometimes strong, sometimes not. Why are we so affected by it? Why do we let it rule our lives and tell us what to do and what not to do?

Fear can be very useful when we need to flee from danger. However, more often it paralyses us when what we really need is to act.

I have recently watched a movie called “Arrival”. It’s about the power of communication and the value of human contact and unity. What struck me the most is the behavior of a woman-scientist.  She was extremely scared, it was obvious, but it didn’t stop her from stepping forward and going into the unknown. As a result of her conquered fear she was able to save humanity from destruction.

In our life and business we face much simpler tasks and dangers. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that our fears have no power to cause destruction. The scale is smaller, of course, but the importance and the aftermath for each of us is huge sometimes.

Are you scared of a new job or a new position? Are you afraid to make that step and finally start a business? Are you horrified that she might say “no” if you ask her out? Overcome your fear and make that next step. Ask for a raise. Change the job. Start a company. Propose. Go on a journey. Take a course. Invest. Live. You’re worth it!

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 – NEED 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? – I asked myself. And the answer was easy – go 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.