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What Children Can Teach Us About Creativity

What Children Can Teach Us About Creativity


    Is your creativity getting low?

    Sometimes, we all hit empty. Searching for inspiration doesn’t always help. Neither does trying to just “work through it.”

    When the work needs to get done and you just don’t have the fire anymore, there needs to be a way to get the juices flowing again.

    As kids, we were never at a loss for creativity.

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    What did we know as kids that could help us now? A whole lot, actually.

    Playing as a Form of Therapy

    D.W. Winnicott, a psychoanalyst of the past century, suggested that playing was the key to emotional and psychological well-being. He devised a mode of therapy with children known as “play therapy.”

    The child leads the therapist in some kind of play activity until the child can trust the therapist enough and open up . However, the child must initiate the playing in a spontaneous way.

    Why?

    Because you can’t force playing, just like you can’t force creativity.

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    The Way That Children Play

    Ever watch children play?

    They’re constantly creating and changing rules for games they invent.

    And when the rules don’t work, they re-invent them.

    For children, a stick could become a magic wand, a sword and a lightsaber all in one afternoon. Kids don’t limit it to just being a stick because someone told them it’s a stick. Heck, they’ll use the stick to make a circle in the dirt and tell you it’s their secret base that you’re not allowed into. Then, five minutes later (when they get bored), you’re suddenly allowed in.

    They keep adjusting the ‘rules’ of playing until they work.

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    Changing the Rules of Teaching

    A few years ago, when I taught high school, I struggled to come up with a final assignment for my students. When I failed to find one that fit with my students, I decided to change the rules.

    Instead of a typical writing assignment based on class readings, I asked my students to create the ‘ultimate super villain’ and present it in two different ways. The only guideline? The villain’s attributes had to be based on characters we studied that semester. That’s it.

    The result was a production of their best creative work all semester. I was so blown away that for the final exam, instead of a “traditional reading,” I asked my students to read a Lifehack article and provide a response. It was the most enjoyable marking experience I’ve had.

    I threw out the rules of teaching and had fun. And the results were spectacular. All it took was a willingness to let my ideas go wild .

    What does This Teach Us ?

    Our best work comes when we’re having fun with what we do.

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    As adults, we get stuck in our heads, limiting ourselves to set rules and guidelines. Sometimes, you have to throw away the rules and just let things flow. Be spontaneous and do something different.

    Be yourself in your work. As a student, I hindered my creativity out of a fear to put my own voice in my essays. I depended on the voice of others because it felt ‘proper.’ But when I wrote with my voice, essays became fun to write, and sounded infinitely better .

    The second you stop following the prescribed rules, you’ll uncover creativity you never knew you had. According to Winnicott, only in creativity do we find ourselves.

    Don’t lock yourself within a set of self-imposed rules.

    Act like a kid: when the game doesn’t work, change the rules until it does.

    Now go play… and tell me how it turns out for you.

    (Photo credit: Boy Throwing a Paper Airplane via Shutterstock)

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    15 Habits to Develop for Back to School How I Turned Magic into a Hobby That Makes Easy Money How to Get Work Done Quickly by Not Being Perfect What Children Can Teach Us About Creativity 6 Secrets of Bad Presentations (and How to Avoid Them)

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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