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Samuel Duckett, Author at The SamplerThe Sampler
How Waking Up an Hour Earlier Every Morning Can Transform Everything

Ben Franklin had it right when he said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Perhaps he got the idea from the philosopher Aristotle, who said, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”

Even proverbs like “the early bird gets the worm” suggest that getting up early enables you to be more productive. But just getting up early doesn’t automatically create the outcome you want. Rather, it’s the daily rituals you implement that make the difference. Here are some tips to kick the New Year off to a great start.

 

Rise early.

Get up one hour earlier and give yourself time to ease into the day. Enjoy your coffee, read something inspirational or educational, then think about what you want to accomplish for the day.

Take a moment to review your plan for the day, making any alterations as necessary. Write down action items you’d like to take, and prioritize them into A and B lists. Do the A items first. Try to accomplish the most tedious or daunting tasks in the morning when you’re fresh and more energized.

Exercise.

Morning exercise stimulates both the body and the mind, working out the kinks, releasing endorphins and allowing your brain to fire up for the day. To conquer your day, both your body and mind need to be healthy, fit and active. Daily exercise is also a great stress reducer. Military.comoffers a quick 15-minute workout that includes crunches, jumping jacks, pushups, squats, dumbbell exercises and cardio options. If you don’t belong to a gym, get outside and go for a vigorous 20-minute walk.

 

Meditate.

Meditation allows the mind to calm, which in turn reduces stress, brings clarity and peace of mind while enabling creative thought to enter. Give yourself the gift of 15 minutes in a serene environment to mediate and “just be” each morning. If you don’t have time to meditate, start your day with a gratitude list. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, visualize three things for which you are grateful. Try to think of three different things each day.

 

Healthy eating.

Haven’t you heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Plot the time in your schedule to eat a healthy breakfast with protein or complex carbohydrates that release energy throughout the day. Some of the best foods, according to an article at Health.com, include oatmeal, Greek yogurt, grapefruit and eggs.

 

Keep a journal.

According to Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, journaling helps him process previous events, clarify his thinking, understand life’s context, notice his feelings, record significant lessons and ask important questions. Keep a small notebook handy for those creative ideas that come to mind when you’re exercising, meditating or eating breakfast. No matter how crazy, write them down. Reflect on them at the end of the day to see if any of them can be implemented in your daily or work life.

Continue learning.

Successful people are lifelong learners. Use your quality time in the morning to read business articles, read something inspirational, or listen to a book on CD during your commute. Make it a point to read books by or about business leaders you admire.

Getting up an hour earlier and working these rituals into your day will provide benefits beyond what you expect. They may, in fact, help you to become healthy, wealthy and wise.

 

Author: Jacqueline Whitmore

Source: Entrepreneur

3 Paths Toward A More Creative Life

WANT TO BE MORE CREATIVE? SOMETIMES IT’S JUST A MATTER OF GIVING YOURSELF THE SPACE TO THINK, WRITES BRUCE NUSSBAUM.

 

Everyone can learn to be more creative, but to become very creative, I’ve come to believe you need to lead a creative life. In watching my best students, in examining the lives of successful entrepreneurs, and in seeing the process of the great Native American artists who I know, it is clear that how they live their daily lives is crucial to their success. I realize that it sounds very “zen-y” (which is OK by me), yet I come to this realization not through a search for spirituality or clarity but from simple observation.

Creativity is in such demand today that when we apply for jobs, when we join organizations, or when we just meet other people, we are asked to present our creative selves. But we can’t do that unless we understand the nature of our own creativity, locate the sources of our originality, and have a language that explains our work. If you are one of the growing number of “creatives,” or want to become one, you need to lead a creative life. This is what I talk about with my students. Through outside speakers, deep readings of key classics, and intense classwork, we explore the nature of leading a creative life and develop a series of concepts and a literacy that allows us to understand ourselves and communicate and convince others of the validity of our work and the resonance it has in society and the marketplace.

It’s a work in progress, of course, but here are three specific ways that can help you lead a creative life.

 

1. BE MINDFUL—DISCONNECT

As important as it is for you to lead a hyper-connected and super-stimulating life as a creative person, it is just as crucial for you to be self-reflective and mindful. The last time I had dinner with Bill Moggridge, the father of interaction design, the cofounder of Ideo, and then head of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, I asked him where he went in New York to spark his creativity. He quickly said the High Line. Walking the High Line was where he would go to think and ponder. Steve Jobs was a walker. Mark Zuckerberg is a walker.

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For good reason. We are all so connected these days and distracted by constant interactions. Our time is spent responding, reacting to others or absorbing, taking in new information. But we often lack the space, the time, the moment to integrate that knowledge, connect those dots, generate that creativity. Slowing down and disconnecting provides that space. That’s why showers or lingering over that cup of coffee before starting off to work are good places to start your creative life. Taking a walk is particularly good. Walking alone is an excellent strategy for freeing your mind up so that you’re able to bring together different areas of knowledge. Finding that neighborhood coffee shop to hang (not the one where you meet your friends) and just think can be important. You don’t need hours and hours of disconnection but just a few to be mindful of your challenges and how you might meet them. You need to allow your creativity to flow without interruption and to let your mind to fill up.

zen-rock-garden

2. TO CREATE MEANINGFUL THINGS, DELVE INTO THE PAST

Bill Buxton, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and a polymath’s polymath (he was building a Cree birch canoe using traditional tools and techniques the last time I saw him in Toronto), says people spend more time learning about the music they love than the fields they work in—especially in high tech. Prospecting and mining the past to gain a deep understanding of where things come from and why they exist is hugely important to creating meaningful new things. Buxton points to the example of the 1993 IBM/Bell South touchscreen smartphone called the Simon that was a likely inspiration to Jony Ive for the wildly successful iPhone. Bob Dylan “mined” Woody Guthrie. Van Gogh found inspiration in Jean-Francois Millet. Being mindful of the roots of your knowledge domain, your industry, your creative space can bring greater understanding—and more success—to your own creative efforts.

IBM Simon/iPhone

IBM Simon/iPhone

Being mindful also means understanding the intellectual context and history of key ideas. The UX (user experience) is perhaps the single-most important concept in business today, but our understanding of that experience is shallow. We know enough to be “user” focused but not enough to really know what that means. Read Walter Benjamin’s work on aura and fashion, and you realize that our most powerful attraction to things come from a dynamic engagement, not a passive experience. In Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki describes a Japanese entrancing relationship to the smell and look and feel of cooking rice. Digging deep into meaning and understanding, you discover that some wonderful things “beckon” us, we interact with them emotionally, we want to stay engaged. In an era of social media where we all want to participate in the making of our lives, user engagement (UE) is more important than UX.

 

Being meaningful is important for leading a creative life because it allows you to understand the deeper meaning of relationships, outside and inside the marketplace. That includes our relationships to things and our relationship to one another. For example, we just celebrated Valentine’s Day. But do you really know what a gift is? We are mired in swag, “free” gifts we give away at nearly every event. But do you know the intense underlying psychology, social, political, and economic dynamic that goes with giving and receiving a gift? Knowing the anthropological and sociological literature on the gift—it is extensive because the gift is perhaps the most celebrated and common of all human rituals—provides meaning to your creativity. Kickstarter is all about the gift as a mechanism of patronage, art production, and, I would argue (and cofounder Charles Adler would disagree), shaping a new kind of capitalism.

 

3. BE MASTERFUL

We now know that we can all learn to be more creative. It’s not a rare “aha” moment that comes to a lucky few. To be very creative, however, requires a deep mastering of both knowledge and skills. Creativity is mostly about two things—connecting different bodies of knowledge in new ways and seeing patterns where none existed before. Connecting dots of disparate information (shoes and the Internet, anyone?) usually involves “fresh eyes.” It plays to the strengths of the younger. Seeing things differently, often taking existing things and connecting them to new technologies, can be serendipitous. But we can train ourselves to look for serendipity constantly and everywhere. We can learn to play at connecting this and that to see what it creates. We can make serendipity work for us day to day.

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Learning pattern recognition takes longer. Pattern sight requires you to master the skill of looking for what should and shouldn’t be there. It’s the ability not only to see the rare “odd duck” but to routinely look for that duck and see it. That’s what good birders do. That’s what hunters, hikers, skiers, and all outdoors people do. It takes time to learn patterns of information, which is why you need to spend a lot of time “in the field.” We call that “experience,” and you’ve seen that whenever you’re in a situation with someone who just “knows” what’s coming next without being able to explain it. That person is reading the patterns. This mastery is not about fresh eyes but wise eyes.

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Leading a creative life is increasingly the path people are choosing, for good reason. In an era of volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and ambiguity, being creative is perhaps the best way to navigate your career and succeed. It gives you the right skill set and mindset. But a creative life can offer more than business success. Keith Richards perhaps says it best in his biography Life: “There’s a certain moment when you realize that you’ve actually just left the planet for a bit and that nobody can touch you. . .When it works, baby, you’ve got wings.” Richards is a textbook example of leading a creative life, which is why his biography has become required reading in my classes. But you don’t have to be a rock star to tap into creative flow—just start by taking a walk.

 

Author: Bruce Nussbaum

Source: Fast Company

How to Find Your Passion in 5 Creativity Exercises

Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th century British Prime Minister, once said, “Man is only great when he acts from passion.”

For today’s aspiring entrepreneur, exploring avenues of creativity to find your passion is likely the quickest route to increase your chances of launching a successful business. Where to start? Here, with five exercises to help you uncover your passion.

Exercise 1 – Revisit your childhood. What did you love to do?

“It’s amazing how disconnected we become to the things that brought us the most joy in favor of what’s practical,” says Rob Levit, an Annapolis, Md.-based creativity expert, speaker and business consultant.

Levit suggests making a list of all the things you remember enjoying as a child. Would you enjoy that activity now? For example, Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s greatest architect, played with wooden blocks all through childhood and perhaps well past it.

“Research shows that there is much to be discovered in play, even as adults,” Levit says.

Revisit some of the positive activities, foods and events of childhood. Levit suggests asking yourself these questions to get started: What can be translated and added into your life now? How can those past experiences shape your career choices now?

Exercise 2 – Make a “creativity board.”

Start by taking a large poster board, put the words “New Business” in the center and create a collage of images, sayings, articles, poems and other inspirations, suggests Michael Michalko, a creativity expert based in Rochester, N.Y., and Naples, Fla., and author of creativity books and tools, including ThinkPak (Ten Speed Press, 2006).

“The idea behind this is that when you surround yourself with images of your intention — who you want to become or what you want to create — your awareness and passion will grow,” Michalko says.

As your board evolves and becomes more focused, you will begin to recognize what is missing and imagine ways to fill the blanks and realize your vision.

Exercise 3 – Make a list of people who are where you want to be.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Study people who have been successful in the area you want to pursue.

For example, during the recession, many people shied away from the real estate market because they thought it was a dead end. Levit believes that’s the perfect time to jump in — when most others are bailing out — because no matter the business, there are people who are successful in it. Study them, figure out how and why they are able to remain successful when everyone else is folding and then set up structures to emulate them.

“If you want to be creative, create a rigorous and formal plan,” Levit says. “It’s not the plan that is creative; it’s the process that you go through that opens up so many possibilities.”

Exercise 4 – Start doing what you love, even without a business plan.

A lot of people wait until they have an extensive business plan written down, along with angel investors wanting to throw cash at them — and their ideas never see the light of day, according to Cath Duncan, a Calgary, Canada-based creativity expert and life coach who works with entrepreneurs and other professionals.

She recommends doing what you enjoy — even if you haven’t yet figured out how to monetize it. Test what it might be like to work in an area you’re passionate about, build your business network and ask for feedback that will help you develop and refine a business plan.

It’s a way to not only show the value you would bring, but you can also get testimonials that will help launch your business when you’re ready to make it official.

“Perhaps most importantly, though, it’ll shift you out of paralysis and fear,” Cath says, “and the joy of seeing the difference your contribution makes will fuel your creativity.”

Exercise 5 – Take a break from business thinking.

While it might feel uncomfortable to step outside of business mode, the mind sometimes needs a rest from such bottom-line thinking, says Levit, who has recently taken up Japanese haiku, a form of poetry. Maybe for you, it will be creative writing, painting, running or even gardening.

After you take a mental vacation indulging in something you’re passionate about, Levit suggests coming back to a journal and writing down any business ideas that come to mind.

“You’ll be amazed at how refreshed your ideas are,” he says. “Looking at beautiful things – art and nature – creates connections that we often neglect to notice. Notice them capture, them in writing and use them.”

 

Author: Lisa Girard

Source: Entrepreneur

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Creativity

“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.” – Albert Einstein

Creativity is one of the most intrinsically rewarding endeavors we engage in.  Creativity requires a combination of innovation, inspiration, and a tremendous amount of hard work. It allows us to explore both the wondrous potential and the incredible detail of things. And let’s not forget that those little shots of dopamine that creativity releases in the rewards center of our brain…how could you not love that?!

Every single one of us has the ability to be creative. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts of Creativity:

 

Do’s

Do be curious on a constant basis. Constantly ask “Why?” and “Is this the best way to do it?” Recognize that others may do it a certain way simply because that is the way it has always been done, not because it’s the optimal way.

Do believe you can do it. In order to accomplish anything great you are going to have to believe that you can. In believing that you can, you open yourself up to the infinite source of inspiration that exists within each of us.

 

Do your research. Coming up with creative ideas stems from understanding the problems or area of focus in depth. Gather data, ask questions, look at what has been done before and look for ways to improve upon it.

Do get started! The number one most important element in creating anything is to start!

Do stay humble and teachable. Ask others for their advice, opinions, and experience. Be willing to listen and learn from the input of others. Then consider all you learn and make the decisions that you personally feel best about.

Do know that the best ideas don’t have to be your own. It’s your implementation of the idea that will lead to success, not the idea itself. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but those who implement them are priceless.

Do course correct when necessary. The more you learn in the process of moving forward the more you understand how to adjust your course to take you where you ultimately want to go. See course corrections as a positive element in your progress.

Do persevere. It’s never been a matter of being the smartest or the most talented, rather, it’s always been a matter of moving forward, falling down, getting back up, and continuing to move forward a little wiser each time. Always keep moving forward. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is perseverance.” – Steve Jobs

 

Don’ts

Don’t be afraid to start. It is called the start for a reason…it is the beginning, not the end.

Don’t over criticize your early ideas, doing so stops your creative juices from flowing. “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.” –Joseph Pearce

Don’t wait until you find the perfect idea to start. Whatever idea you start with will morph over time anyway as you continue to learn so don’t get hung up, just get going.

Don’t wait to figure out every little detail before you start. It would be impossible to think through every scenario and every possibility.

Don’t get discouraged when things don’t go as you’d hoped. There are going to be a million failures before you achieve ultimate success, accept that it’s all just part of the process.

Don’t ever do anything that would compromise your integrity. Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Enough said.

Creativity is one of the most exciting and enjoyable parts of life. It motivates me better than anything else can. As Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Not only is it fun, it’s also highly contagious, so the more of us that will get creative, the faster we can spread more fun!

 

Author: Amy Rees Anderson

Source: Forbes

3 Secrets to Creating Content That Speaks to the Reader

When it comes to content marketing, it’s important to get out of the sales mindset in order to reach a wide audience and create a genuine interest in the niche that you are promoting. Of course, your content should draw your readers in and make them want to invest their time or money into the products and services you’re ultimately promoting. But the way to do it should always be through crafting interesting, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.

So how exactly do you create content that speaks to your audience and makes them want to buy without making your words sound too “salesy” or pushy? Here are three effective concepts you can start implementing right away to start getting your clients the attention they need for success:

1. Start a conversation

The truth is that your readers are not interested in reading about how fantastic the products and services you’re promoting are. They want to gain insight into finding solutions to their everyday problems, and learning about new information and techniques that will help make their lives easier. You have to find a way to incorporate your clients’ products and services into useful content that gives your readers something to take away and implement into their own lifestyles.

For example, if you’re creating content for an HVAC company, you can create content that revolves around reducing wear and tear on air conditioners or how to minimize the need for heater repairs during cold winters. The idea is to create authority and become a trustworthy friend to readers so they’re more likely to naturally look into the products and services associated with your content.

2. Create involvement

Get your readers involved in your content with techniques such as inspiring them to ask questions of themselves that will help them work out their simple problems. Another method is to have them write down lists of goals, interests, and aspirations that they can use to increase different aspects of their lives.

Whether your content helps homeowners sell their homes more quickly, encourages people to adopt a healthier diet, or simply gets stay-at-home parents to think about how they’re spending their free time, the point is that you’re bringing something valuable and actionable to the table that keeps readers thinking about the companies you represent long after your words have been read.

Like writing in a conversational tone, creating involvement within your words will make your clients’ products and services more desirable by readers because they can be used to complement the tools you provide them within your content. After all, who wouldn’t want to invest in software that will help keep track of the goals you suggest to readers looking to lose weight?

3. Represent the brand

An important aspect of creating successful marketing content is giving each piece a unique tone that mimics the brand of every individual client you work with. It’s a good idea to read through the “about us” page of your clients and ask them to go in depth about the tone and personality they’d like to connect to their business. Every piece of content you create for a particular client should speak the same in terms of personality, style, and authority.

If a client is just starting out and has not yet created a voice for their brand, put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would want to be seen by clients when you’re choosing a voice to craft your content with. Take a look at competitor sites not only to weed out topics that have already saturated the internet, but to get a feel for the other voices out there which should help you come up with something unique for your client.

With these tips and tricks in mind, you should be able to come up with something new and unique that draws readers into the brand you’re representing and makes them want to keep coming back for more.

 

Written by Steve Lazuka, Zerys for Agencies

4 Ways to Work With a Partner to Achieve More

 

Maintaining your creative side takes persistence.  It’s like a muscle that you need to strengthen and when you neglect it, it tends to fade.  Strengthening your creative side to the point of turning it into a business, on the other hand, is a whole other level of persistence that takes a little extra work.  In that case, you may need to find help outside of yourself to really succeed.  We found an article on Entrepreneur that speaks directly to that issue and offers the solution of finding a ‘life training partner’, written by contributor Joel Gascoigne about his experience with his co-founder Leo. Check it out below!

Finding a ‘life training’ partner

As I continuously work to improve myself, I’ve found that it helps to always have a “training partner”—for my day-to-day work, my entrepreneurial goals, and my personal projects like writing.

A few years ago, I consistently had a weekly meeting with my great friend Khuram, in which we discussed our achievements and challenges to help each other keep pushing forward.

Today, my co-founder Leo and I act as personal trainers for each other for our work and life goals.

Here are four ways Leo and I work together as training partners to improve ourselves and meet our goals, in case you might want to give this method a try, too:

1. Writing a list for the next day.

One of the activities Leo and I have built as a habit is to sit down together for 20 minutes at the end of each day and plan the key tasks we each want to do the next day.

We’ve found that whenever we plan the day ahead, we’re much more productive, we procrastinate less, and we feel happier as a result.

This is something I can definitely recommend you do with your co-founders—or, if you’re part of a team, you could try it with a co-worker.

2. Talking through daunting tasks.

Whenever there’s something I need to work on that I find myself struggling to get started with, I will book a slot with Leo to ask him to work through it with me.

This is especially useful for analyzing and brainstorming, where you need to map out many things and come to some conclusions.

Although I do it with Leo, I am mostly leading it and it is one of those cases where simply explaining something to someone can help me a lot.

3. Sharing achievements and challenges

When Leo and I were both in San Francisco, the most productive few hours of my week were Friday night, when Leo and I would go to Samovar, drink tea and have a systematic mastermind session.

We’ve had many different iterations of the structure of our mastermind sessions, and they’re still evolving today. Some teammates use this structure today:

  • 20 minutes to share and celebrate your achievements
  • 40 minutes to discuss your current top challenges

Each of these sections serve a slightly different purpose and combine to create a very productive session.

In addition, we also have one-on-one mentoring meetings with a slightly different structure—instead of performance updates, it’s become a more open-ended way to work through challenges, get advice and brainstorm together.

4. Brainstorming blog posts together, in detail

When I originally started blogging,  I wrote every post completely by myself. When Leo came on board, I naturally started discussing future posts with him, and he was super encouraging and interested.

Now when I write, I deliberately brainstorm many of my articles with Leo, right down to the individual sections. It makes my writing task much easier, and the posts are better as a result.

Today, our whole Content Crafters team collaborates closely on everything we publish—accountability and collaboration makes ideas stronger.

 

Author: Joel Gascoine

3 Simple Things To Knock Out Those To-Do Lists

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When staying on task, you’re going to need that to-do list. It’s what keeps you on track and makes sure you don’t lose any of what you need to get done along the way! First thing you know you’re knocking out to-dos left and right, and next thing you know the days over and you’re only halfway done!  Well, that’s exactly why this article spoke to us and will speak to you too! Below are the 3 Simple Things To Knock Out Those To-Do Lists:

Follow these 3 simple steps.

1. Write everything down.

Make sure your list includes ALL of your to-do items – even the small tasks that you have swirling around your head taking up important brain space that may only take “a few minutes” to actually complete. And if you don’t have your personal goals, values and priorities at the forefront of your mind, take a moment to think about them and write those down too. You’ll need them for the next step.

 

2. Place your to-do items in quadrants.

As described in his book, Dr. Covey lists four quadrants of organization:

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.06.59 AM

Quadrant I contain our crises, deadline-driven projects, and pressing problems – all of which are critical for success. These tasks often share the following characteristics:

  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Dealing with late inputs from others
  • Lots of last minute changes due to insufficient planning
  • Leave us feeling drained

Many times, solving these problems (and getting the reward that doing so brings) gives us a temporary adrenalin rush… and that rush can become addictive. Focusing most of our time on Quadrant I results in it getting bigger and bigger until it dominates not just our work, but our life.

 

Quadrant II activities add the most value to our lives, goals, and projects. They involve developing and nurturing relationships, planning, strategy, and self-care. Characteristics include:

  • Tapping into our authentic selves
  • Thoughtful, creative work Advanced and/or detailed planning
  • Mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships
  • Feeling energetic and fulfilled

Because they’re not urgent, time for activities in this quadrant often gets squeezed out by all of our pressing tasks in Quadrants I and III. But focusing our attention (and intentions) on Quadrant II is the key to checking off items on our to-do list in a meaningful way.

Quadrant III is deceptive. We get sucked into it because the tasks are urgent like Quadrant I, but they lack value – at least value based on our priorities. They often include:

  • Interruptions (including incoming phone calls and email)
  • Unnecessary meetings or events called by others
  • Delegated work from people stuck in crisis mode (or just overwhelmed)
  • Outside “emergencies”

I’m not saying don’t help others, but be aware of how much you’re helping others at the expense of your own values and productivity. Too much time spent in this quadrant can breed resentment.

 

Quadrant IV activities are time wasters that mainly fall into two categories:

  • Procrastination of difficult tasks
  • Self-indulgent perfectionism on things that are already good enough

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve spent waaaay too much time in this quadrant…and I think you’re lying if you say you don’t spend any time here. Now I’m not saying we should abandon Quadrant IV altogether. If you need to take a break to blow off steam or de-stress, then by all means do it…just don’t get stuck there.

3. Set a few weekly goals that focus on Quadrant II.

“Oh sure…” I hear you asking, “But what about Quadrants I and III? They’re not going to magically disappear.”

And you’re right, they won’t. But shifting how you approach prioritization will reduce them over time and help you focus more on Quadrant II.

We can’t ignore Quadrant I – these things are important and need to get done. When possible, get them off your to-do list before your other tasks.

But then schedule that regular, dedicated time for planning, strategizing, and collaborating activities to reduce Quadrant I. Remember…time-sucking fire drills often come from a lack of planning.

To reduce Quadrant III, practice flexing your personal boundary muscles and say “no” to unnecessary requests from others. If possible, provide them with what they need to get their tasks done themselves.

As for Quadrant IV, try scheduling downtime into your day so you don’t become overwhelmed and feel the need to check out mentally.

Author: Maria Kubitz

Source: Abundant Yogi

5 Ways to Battle Procrastination

Christian and I are no strangers to procrastination.  In fact, I believe entrepreneurial-minded people are more prone to battle procrastination because they’re overly ambitious and are the type of people to keep piling things on their plate.  It takes extra work to just to make sure you’re doing the RIGHT work!  We know you know this too, which is why we picked this article specifically to give you some knowledge today. Read below on the 5 Ways to Battle Procrastination:

 

Everyone procrastinates from time to time, but some do it more often than others. For those habitual procrastinators, the ability to complete even the smallest tasks or projects can seem elusive. However, it’s important to remember that procrastination is a psychological issue that can be reversed with a few simple hacks.

Procrastination is something that comes natural to us. When we’re facing a task that we perceive to be boring, time-consuming or unpleasant, our natural inclination is to delay it by focusing on things that bring us direct and immediate pleasure. According to psychologists, 20 percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. Chronic procrastination means you don’t just procrastinate in one specific area — rather it’s part of your lifestyle which can be debilitating and dangerous.

 

While you may not classify yourself as a chronic procrastinator, chances are that you’re a procrastinator to some degree. If you want to overcome your aggravating inclinations to delay the onset of less-than-enjoyable tasks and responsibilities, you need to take action.

Here are five hacks that will help you beat procrastination.

1. Schedule your day in 15-minute blocks.

Multi-tasking is one of the easiest ways to procrastinate, because it allows you delay less-enjoyable tasks. The best way to prevent that and increase your productivity is by using time-blocking. The concept is similar to creating a financial budget on paper, except in this case, you’re planning to spend your time rather than money.

You should start by planning out your day and everything you would like to get done. Next, divide those tasks into 15-minute blocks, because it will allow you to set realistic deadlines and not waste time.

This technique of working in focused batches is known as the Pomodoro Technique. Also, apps like TimeDoctor and RescueTime make getting started with time-blocking really easy.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T goals.

A goal without a plan is just a wish. When you have concrete tasks with deadlines, your chances of delaying are much lower than they would be if the task isn’t well defined. S.M.A.R.T goals are the enemy of procrastination. This framework requires you to create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

If you want to overcome procrastination and actually meet your goals, then start setting well-defined goals. You can use an app like Nozbe or Strides to help track your progress.

 

3. Use the George Washington method.

Are you familiar with the George Washington method? This method involves picking an arbitrary point in your day and setting this as noon. You then move forward in segments, only focusing on the hour you’re currently in. It’s simply another way of organizing your time. This is actually the strategy that the White House cleaning staff still uses today.

4. Remove distractions from your workspace.

Everyone wants to have a fun office, but busy workspaces are unfortunately very distracting and conducive to procrastination. If you’re really serious about staying focused, you need to create a distraction-free workspace. Some ideas include:

  • Position your computer screen away from the window. This prevents you from getting distracted with what’s going on outside of your office.
  • Remove knick-knacks from your desk. While stress balls, bobble heads, and interactive gadgets may look cool, they actually take away from your focus.
  • Uninstall distracting apps from your computer and delete bookmarks to websites that don’t pertain to business. It’s amazing how much time you can waste on your computer by mindlessly clicking through these websites.

These three tips alone can free up your workspace and allow you to focus more on your work and less on the noise and distractions around you.

5. Find accountability partners.

When you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t always have a manager or boss breathing down your neck and making sure you get things done. While this is certainly one of the pleasures of working for yourself, it also has a downside. When you don’t have superiors, there’s no one to keep you in line.

One of the best things you can do is find some accountability. If you work from home, this may look like asking your wife to check in every day to see what you’ve done. If you have a close friend or colleague who is in the same industry, then you can do a daily progress call with them.

Procrastination isn’t something you can afford to take lightly. While it may be something that you joke about with your friends, it’s a debilitating problem that can significantly and negatively impact the amount of success you experiences in your career. With these tips, you can begin to overcome your procrastination and experience the freedom of maximum productivity and focus.

 

Author: Syed Balkhi

Source: Entrepreneur

Great Creative Advice from Comicon Creators [video]

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Great advice can come from anywhere! Don’t be put off the by the fact you probably aren’t a comic book illustrator, unlike the advice-givers in the video above.  After you watch this video I think you’ll draw some parallels (like we did) that will motivate you to keep pushing in whatever creative business endeavor you  choose!!!


Source: Fast Company

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At the newsstands in New York City’s subway, shoppers can pick up broadsheets, tabloids, snacks, and sundries. More or less, all of the kiosks repeat the same format—you can predict exactly what’s on offer, and it hasn’t changed in decades. The founders of the New Stand thought, why was retail in the subway remained stagnant when it has accelerated pretty much everywhere else? Their sleek storefront in Union Square and a kiosk in Brookfield Place aim to shake up the status quo through a rotating inventory of unexpected goods, design wares, and everyday items.

Creative heavyweights and entrepreneurs Andrew Deitchman, George Alan, Lex Kendall, and David Carson banded together to create The New Stand. Their hope is that the shops become an exciting part of someone’s commute. In addition to a brick-and-mortar presence, The New Stand also exists as an app that features playlists, news stories, and promotions from partner brands and media companies. Moreover, users can add money to an account via the app and pay for purchases that way.

“Newsstands were once spaces where you discovered the world,” Alan says. “More and more the world is in our pocket. For us, it’s about connecting with people during their daily routine and adding discovery during their travels.” Carson adds, “We call ourselves a day-improvement company.”

 

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Some of the items for sale include the requisite candy bars, bottled water, and toothbrushes, but also home decor objects and electronics. The founders’ current favorites include matcha-flavored Kit Kats, Master and Dynamic headphones, Lawless jerky, and a hoverboard.

“We’re looking for new: new designs, new stories, things that might capture your imagination—we’re not here to show you brands you already know about,” Deichtman says of the merchandise and content New Stand offers. While it partner with big companies, like eBay, New Stands equally tries to find products from up and comers.

One such example is the firm The New Stand enlisted to build out the space. François Chambard of the Brooklyn studio Um Project fabricated the reconfigurable magnetic display shelves, Corian cabinets, and marble counters make up the modular stores.

“We thought about how quickly retail and media are changing,” Deitchman says. “More and more retail companies are trying to be media companies and vice versa. All of these things are in flux now and we wanted to design a space that would allow us to change, morph, and grow easily. The space should be able to update as frequently as an app can.”

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While The New Stand exemplifies the buzzy trend of contextualized commerce, it seeks to accomplish that without losing sight of what people need and want on a daily basis. “To the extent were representing the leading edge of where retail is going, we’re also looking backward to just providing a service to people everyday,” Deitchman says.

Correction: The design concept and development was conceived in house by The New Stand, then fabricated with François Chambard of Um Project.

 

Author: Diana Budds

Source: Fast Company