Out of the box Thinking

Out of the box thinking is a relatively familiar term to many.It is used to motivate and encourage people to be more creative in their problem solving . But what exactly is it and how does one become an out of the box thinker? In this article I address these questions but first, let me give you a general idea with a story.

Some years back, Motorola Razr was considered a top of the line phone. This was because of how thin it was. If people continued with that type of thinking, our phones would now be as thin as a sheet of paper but we would only be using them to make calls. Then Steve jobs got a different vision of how a cell phone could be. He thought of combining the phone and the computer into one device and developed the iPhone.

The iPhone may not be the first Smartphone but it was the first Smartphone adopted by popular culture. This allowed android phones to take off and it also allowed tablets to be incorporated into popular culture. So while most people were thinking of making smaller and thinner phones, Apple was thinking of how phones could revolutionize the way we live, this is what thinking out of the box can achieve.

So with that in mind, how can we define thinking out of the box? We can think of it as thinking BEYOND the confines of the norm. It means taking an extra step and looking at an issue from a very different perspective than we’re used to. The concept of thinking outside the box is simple but not easy.

Seeing how much we can achieve with this type of thinking, can we get better at it? Of course we can. Below are some things you can do to help you think outside the box and be better equipped the next time you need an out of the box idea.

Study another industry

If thinking out of the box is going beyond the norm, then another industry may be a great place to start. If you are in accounts, try and understand marketing or design. The idea here is for you to learn how people solve problems in another industry other than your own and try to incorporate the same ideas in your industry.

Take a class

The class could be on anything, but it should be different from what you’re used to. If you are into design, go into poetry, if you are a writer, go into design. Learning a new subject, especially one you wouldn’t have considered, is a great way to open your mind.

Read a novel in an unfamiliar genre

This means that if you like romance novels, try thrillers, or mystery. If you are into the literature, try romance. The basic idea here is read a novel that is of a different genre and setting than you are used to. Study how the writer expresses their ideas, observe the flow of the story and try to understand how the author get you hooked to their story. Understanding the different types of writings by different authors opens up your mind to more possibilities in other fields as well.

True innovation happens when you stop thinking within the confines of the norm. It may not be easy but the end result is usually worth it. I hope this article gave you a better idea of what out of the box thinking is about and some ideas of how to get better at it in the future. I’ll finish with a quote by Tim Ferriss that says “it isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.”

Meditate on it, thank you for stopping by and have a great day 🙂

The ART of showing up

Imagine you had a goal in mind, be it read more books or make more friends or even start a company, your next step would be to educate yourself on these things. So you go online and you find articles, and blogs and videos on the subject matter and you absorb all you can. When you feel you’ve had enough to get you started, you pick up your first book and start reading. Halfway through, or on day two, you realize something feels off. It doesn’t feel as great as it did when you started off. It has its challenges and it’s no longer stimulating. Before long, you quit and look for another goal just to find the same pattern repeating itself.

This happened to me a while back when I was trying to get fit. I used to go to the field and take a few laps every day. But some days I would wake up and realize I didn’t feel like it and slowly as I accepted this feeling, I stopped going for my jogs. I was lost there for a while, wondering why I hadn’t gone through with the practice regimen I had developed until later I met a guy who changed my whole perspective on the matter.

For story purposes let’s call him John. John is training for the Olympics and every evening he is on the field training. Since he was the most consistent guy I knew, I decided to join him in his workout. I followed him for a week and never was he off in his workout. On some days I would say I didn’t feel like it and even when he didn’t feel like it, he still did the workout. Needless to say I left but I learned something from him that day, the art of showing up.

The art of showing up is an art designed to help people get more consistent with what they do on a daily basis. With most leisure activities, people  choose to do them because they feel great, stimulating, or thrilling. But when that thrill wears off , people tend to leave the activities and look for new ones. A good example is working out, it feels good when you start but as time goes by, the great feeling you get starts to dwindle and all you have are aching limbs the next morning. In such a case, one would choose to stop working out and find something else to do. If this happens to you often, the art of showing up gives a better long lasting solution to the matter.

The basic idea is first, ignore how you feel. In my workout example, I mention that at one point I didn’t FEEL like it. Feelings tend to mislead people especially where long term goals are concerned. We tend to relate how we feel with the result. For example, if I feel great about working out, I will work out better. The reality, however, is the opposite.  Working out with time tends to give its benefits after the workout is done and not during the workout as some would expect. Also at the end of the workout, you will have a feeling of accomplishment when you do all the assigned sets. So instead of going with your feelings, just go to the gym and do what you had planned for the day and see what happens.

With the first point in mind, the second is just as important. Have a plan. I recall days when I had no plan for my day and what would happen is that I would wake up and get lost in my day. You do not need a job or some big career to have a plan for your day. A plan gives the day direction so without one, you could end up being bored which leads some bad habits. With a plan, you don’t have to really rely on your feelings, you just have to do what needs to be done, and you’ll be okay. A great way to do this is create a time table.

The third and final point is show up. If you have a workout, go to the gym and do some reps. You want to read more books, read a book for an hour every day. You want to build a company, show up for work every day and look for clients. The idea is be there and do something whether it feels great or not, whether it’s great or not. If you want to be a better writer, write an article a day, whether it’s a great article or just basic, at least you’ll have something. a

The art of showing up encourages people to show up and be present in their day and their lives. Showing up ensures consistency and with time, you can be sure of growth which means getting better at your craft. I’ll finish off with a quote from James clear that says “Don’t worry about the results until you’ve mastered the art of showing up.”

Thank you for stopping by. Have a productive day ahead 🙂

 

Instant Gratification-the enemy of Progress

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions in the year 2015. The year before, 2014, I had my list of resolutions written down and ready for implementation. I can recall how motivated and determined I felt knowing that 2014 would be my year. The list comprised of some bad habits I needed to stop and some new habits that I wanted to develop with time.

It was a challenge trying to keep all the seven things in mind as the days of 2014 came and went but in the end, I ended up falling back into my bad habits and the good habits were never formed. Even worse, I fell off the wagon on the second day of the New Year. It was a bad feeling, a feeling of loss and defeat.  I later moved on and waited for the next year for another fresh start. Now looking back to it, I can see where I went wrong, I can see why I never actually did anything I had written on that list and it is not that complicated.

One thing I had on the list was working out. I had just begun my 20s and the first thing I wanted more than anything was a great body.  So just like anyone else, I wrote it down and decided to find gym near me. The problem was that the only time I could workout was in the morning. I had to wake up at around 5 walk to the gym for about 40 minute’s workout and be back in time to attend my class at 10am. I never really considered any of this when I was making the resolution, I also forgot how much I loved sleep,  I just wrote it down and enjoyed the feeling of euphoria it gave me. It was at this point that I discovered a thing called instant gratification and its impact on my actions.

Since then, I have seen it everywhere with everybody I meet. We all know of a friend who keeps talking about a project they need to finish or something they need to do but end up doing leisure activities like watching movies, this is instant gratification. By definition, it is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment. This is how it works.

Imagine I have a school project due next week on the 15th. To finish it in time means I have to get busy right away but instead I decide to watch a movie or series. In this case, I choose to relax first rather than work first and relax later.

Instant gratification also applies in working out where a person may choose to enjoy junk foods rather than stick to a healthy diet and lose some weight. It applies in academics where students choose leisure activities over course work and end up rushing to read everything two days to the exam. It applies in life where one may choose to sleep over getting up and working on their goals. I’ve seen it in so many areas of my life and back in 2014, it’s what I saw. It was easier for me to just fail at everything on the list just to take the pressure off instead of coming up with a schedule to help me achieve what I had planned.

Instant gratification hinders success in that it makes you choose immediate pleasures over long term goals. Goals are easy to come up with but when it comes down to putting in the work, people start looking for other things to keep themselves busy. Have you noticed instances of instant gratification in your life? If so, know it is not unbeatable. Noticing its presence is the first step; the next is getting to work and stopping only when you’re done.

Have a productive day ahead 🙂

Creating GREAT CONTENT for your blog

When it comes to creating great content for a blog or any other platform, the question is not how to do it but what to say. What do you write about and where do you get the ideas from?

When it comes to blogging, being original is key. But even with original content, creating more over time becomes a challenge and in most cases the blog updates start reducing and finally the blogger stops posting on his blog. I have personally gone through such an experience and to avoid it in future, I decided to do an article on the issue.

Content is everywhere. No matter what kind of a blogger you are, content is not that hard to find. I knew of a guy who would write about something he saw in town, may be some acrobats doing some tricks in town, or a magician. It could even be an event you went to that you would like to tell people about and encourage them to attend, whatever it is, it can be turned into an article.

However, even with the world giving us content, we will always have our off days when we simply do not have something to write about. If this is a struggle for you, here are some other tips to help you come up with some great content.

Check out other blogs:

Writing is an art and just like any art we need references from time to time to have a better picture of what is expected. If you wanted to draw the Eifel tower, you would not just sit down and wing it hoping you will get a great picture, you would first go online, find a good image of it, take it in, and then start your drawing. In the same way, other blogs can act as a great reference material when you don’t have much to write about.

Other blogs also give you an idea of what topics people are interested in and what most people have to say about them. So next time you don’t have a clue about what to write, go online and check out some of your favorite blogs, you’ll come across some great content.

Share your success or failure:

Blogs are a great platform to share some tips on personal development. If you have accomplished something, it makes some great content for a blog. You can tell people what you did to get to where you are. Give a step by step process of how you came to achieve something and by all means, try not to brag.

Success however isn’t the only thing you can share about. Failures can also help people avoid making similar mistakes or even wasting their time on something that is not worthwhile. Be it business, college or life in general, talk about the challenges you went through and some of the lessons you learnt.

Tell a personal story:

Now this is a tough one but a good one no doubt. A personal story is great blog material especially if it is a personal blog. Personal stories help you connect with your readers and if it is a good story, it may become a source of inspiration for your audience.

Review products:

There are a lot of products out there that people need to know about.  Whether its accessories, clothes or shoes, people feel safer when they understand a product before purchase. So if there is a product you really know about, writing a review of it makes some great blog material. It not only helps you get more readers, it also builds your credibility next time you write a product review.

Take a walk:

Taking a walk is recommended in many instances from having depression to increasing focus. Sometimes we are not stuck because we don’t have anything to write about but because we have too much on our mind. Taking a walk helps you refresh and organize your thoughts giving you a better edge the next time you write. You also have no idea what you will find or see on your walk. So next time you feel stuck, get moving and get those ideas flowing.

I hope the tips above give you a great place to start the next time you need to write something and also an idea of how wide the content pool can be. I will end with a quote from Wilson Mizner who said “When you take stuff from one writer it’s plagiarism, but when you take from many writers it’s called research.”

Have a great day:)

5 tips for INCREASED productivity

In the article why motivation is overrated, I talk about building momentum with action instead of waiting to feel motivated or inspired to do something. To understand this momentum, think about a car. In the morning, the car is still cold and lifeless. But then you turn it on, and slowly you start moving. You start with a small speed but as you increase your gears, you increase your speed. By the time you are at gear five, you are moving swiftly at the speed you desire.

People and motivation are like a car that won’t start. Waiting for inspiration is hoping that somehow that car starts running. Building momentum, however, means that you look for some guys and you push the car to a slope. Once the car gains enough momentum, it starts automatically and you’re on your way.

The problem is that you won’t be driving forever. Even on long journeys, people stop for gas, to stretch or to answer natures call. Once they go back into the car, they feel rejuvenated and ready for the next part of the journey. This scenario helps illustrate productivity.

Productivity by definition means a state of producing something.  In industry terms it is seen as the rate of output per unit input. Productivity is a continuous process and the goal is to always improve and do more in the same amount of time.

For people, productivity works the same way. If you keep doing something on a daily basis, you get better at it and with time, you get more done in the same amount of time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, how we use them determines whether we will be successful or not and this is where productivity comes into play. Since we cannot increase the time we have in a day, our next option is to increase the amount of work we can get done in the same amount of time.

But how do we achieve this effectively? Because it’s not easy. From the moment we wake up, various things in our environment start demanding our attention. From our phones, to our laptops, the people around us and so on.  These things make continuous work flow a problem, but even with this out of the way factors like laziness and fogginess are still something else to worry about when it comes to productivity.

In this article, I have compiled five great tips to for better productivity. These are tips I  keep in mind every time I  work on a task and they give me better results while keeping me focused and motivated.

Go outside:

In the modern world, most people spend most of their time in front of a computer. When their break comes, they switch to things like social media and internet browsing. While this may get your mind of work, your body remains in the same position. After the break they go back to work and after a while they start feeling lazy and tired. While social media may be a good pastime, it may not be the best way to relax after a few hours of work. Getting out of your work station will go a long way to helping you rejuvenate and be more focused when you come back from the break.

Avoid productivity killers:

Productivity killers are thing that keep interrupting you as you work, they include the phone, noisy co-workers, email among others. These things are productivity killers since they  distract you from working on the stuff  that matters. A great way to handle this is to set a time for everything so that you can focus on what need to be done in the moment and work on everything else later.

Organize your workplace:

If you’ve watched the movie limitless, then you recall Bradley cooper struggling with writing his book. He has no ideas or content to write. Then he meets this guy who gives him NZT, the drug that helps him become a genius. The first thing he does is clean up his place. As he cleans up the place, he remarks, “Who can work in an environment like this?” For better productivity, organize your workplace as it will help you think more clearly and focus on the task at hand.

Prioritize your tasks:

If you are a self improvement fanatic, you have come across the book eat that frog by Brian Tracy. The book emphasizes the importance of starting with the toughest task first thing in the morning. This task is compared to a frog because just like eating a frog, it won’t be as easy to do or even enjoyable. But if you push through, everything else will fall into place, and it will work as a great motivator for you throughout the day. Prioritizing is like eating that frog; you start with the most difficult tasks and deal with the rest later.

Exercise:

By exercise, I do not mean get a gym membership then a trainer, then start doing some squats. It is a good idea, but for most people, this can be too big a step and it may overwhelm them. Exercise in this scenario means get moving, walk out of the office, stretch and jog if you can. Exercise has many benefits one of them being increasing focus. Next time you feel stuck at work, leave your work station and take a 5-10 minute walk, it will do wonders.

Reward yourself:

I said I would be sharing five tips but I had to include this one. Rewarding yourself is important as it motivates you to keep going and it makes you feel acknowledged. It is essential to reward yourself as it gives you something to look forward to after a long day and it helps you relax. So after you have implemented the tips above and crossed things off your to do list, give yourself a reward, you deserve it!

Have a good day :).

Sleep- The CORNERSTONE of SUCCESS

When I think about the word cornerstone, I think of the song cornerstone by hill song. The song says that Christ alone is the cornerstone and in him, the weak are made strong and through the storm He is Lord. Another name for cornerstone is foundation or core. It is something that is depended on for support and stability.

Sleep is our way of  recharging after a long day. A good nights sleep provides energy for the brain and the body, it supports daytime performance and it is essential for growth and development. Without sleep, every other tip on success can only get you so far. Allow me to illustrate this with a story.

A wood cutter would go to the forest everyday looking for trees. He would get there early in the morning and get to work. As he worked through the day, he realized that in the morning he would cut down more trees but as time progressed the number of trees he could cut would reduce. He tried increasing his effort and put more strength on the swing of the axe, but that only made a small change and exhausted him in the process.

He decides to go to a wise man with his problem, and after he explains, the wise man asks him, “how often do you sharpen your axe?” He replies, “I do it every morning.”. The wise man explains that this was his problem. Working all day with the same axe made it blunt and this is why he cut down many trees in the morning but could only get a few in the evening. “If you want to get more trees as you work,” the wise man said, “you need to consistently sharpen your axe.”

Sharpening of the axe in the above story can be seen as the cornerstone of this mans success at wood cutting. The number of trees the wood cutter could cut down depended on how sharp his axe was at the time. The sharper the axe, the more trees he could get and vice versa.

Sleep works in a similar way as sharpening the axe. The axe in this case means our minds. Our minds, like the axe need to be sharpened consistently to ensure more productivity and how do we sharpen our minds? By sleeping and relaxing and ensuring we are our best for better productivity and success at whatever we do.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great day :).

 

 

 

Why MOTIVATION is Overrated

It is a rainy Sunday afternoon and I am seated facing my laptop ready to write down a blog post. I feel frustrated because I do not have the motivation to do it. I have the topic written down, but I’m short of ideas. I wait patiently, hoping that my mind will come up with something but from past experience, I know this plan will not work out.

When I say motivation is overrated, the scenario above helps illustrate my point. By overrated, I mean that we tend to rely so much on motivation that we believe it is an essential for getting things done. I personally have waited on motivation on several occasions and even when it came, it never lasted that long. I eventually gave in and looked for something else to do.

Motivation is the general desire of someone to want to do something. It is the why that gets us working on everything we do. For example, my motivation for writing a blog is it gives me an avenue for me to share some of my thoughts. I also hope to get better and be able to publish more articles with time. That is my motivation, my reason. Having a reason behind what we do is a great thing, but in some instances, it is never enough.

Think about a big project or task like writing a report. If you write the report, you will get paid but at the same time writing the report can be a daunting task. You decide to do the report, thinking about the money that comes after. Half way through you realize that you want a break and a few minutes later, you postpone the task to do at a later time.

You see what happened is that you started doing the task with money as your goal without realizing that the task of writing a report may not be as easy. So you take a break hoping to get some motivation to continue,  and if you get it, you finish up the job. When you don’t, however,  you do not feel motivated anymore and at this point you will  switch to something else  and completely leave the first task.

I was in a class last week and something the lecturer said got to me. He was talking about motivation and how misunderstood it can be sometimes. He gave an example of a student waking up on a Saturday Morning with laundry to do. First, they  feel lazy and want to go back to sleep, but because of the work load they decide to get the job done. So they wash the first cloth, then the second ,then the third and by the time they are halfway , they have enough momentum to finish the whole batch. After their done, they think,” hey, I can wash the house too”.

As you can see, they started off with no motivation but by doing the work, they got motivated to even clean up the house which was not in their original plan. This example showed me another way to get more done on a daily basis. Instead of waiting on the willingness to do something try to build momentum. Move from a state of doing nothing and get yourself moving. With time, you will get momentum to finish the task at hand and have more to work on the other things in your life.

This is why I find motivation to be overrated, because people tend to rely on it waiting for it to come up yet they can create it by just getting busy. I hope this article gave you a few tips that you may have needed and I also hope it has given you a new look at motivation. If you do not have it, you can always get yourself moving and create it in the process. Get moving on your daily tasks and gain enough momentum to not only reach your goals but to also accomplish your dreams. Have a great day :).