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4 Pocket-Sized Tools to Help You Generate Killer Ideas Any Time, Anywhere

4 Pocket-Sized Tools to Help You Generate Killer Ideas Any Time, Anywhere

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    The ability to generate creative, profitable, problem-solving ideas is growing in importance, especially with the global economy stuck in the doldrums. But how can you be creative on demand? Here are four pocket-sized card decks that you can take anywhere – to your next team meeting or to a quiet park where you can brainstorm free from distractions – to help you generate your next breakthrough idea:

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      KnowBrainer: If you are looking for a creativity tool that is powerful, portable, and low tech, then you ought to check out the KnowBrainer. This tool does an excellent job of leveraging the mind’s capabilities of association to a major advantage. Developer Gerald Haman has spent years amassing and assessing key words and questions that are the most effective at generating ideas, and he has incorporated them (along with evocative images and quotes) into this colorful, fun-to-use flip card deck. It contains sections that are designed to help you to:
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      • Clearly define your challenge and investigate your needs,
      • Create ideas,
      • Evaluate them using a number of criteria, and
      • Put them into action

      The KnowBrainer is built around Haman’s four-phase Accelerated Innovation process. It incorporates keywords, questions and concepts from the world’s leading new product design firms, Six Sigma quality tools, new books on marketing and the latest research on innovation process tools, is now in its third version. When you first see it, you may be tempted to dismiss the KnowBrainer as a simple card deck, but don’t let its low-tech “interface” fool you. This is one powerful and easy to use idea-generation tool!

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        Free the Genie: Free the Genie is a new deck of 55 creative thinking cards that you can think of as your “personal genie” — a powerful brainstorming assistant that is available to you anytime, anywhere to help you unstick your thinking. This ideation tool is the brainchild of Mitch Ditkoff, founder of the Idea Champions innovation consulting firm. Free the Genie is designed to provide a spark or catalyst to help its users to find their great ideas. Each card contains a principle of breakthrough thinking (examples include “take some risks,” “suspend logic,” and “leverage your strengths”) and some questions or challenges related to each principle.
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          Innovative Whack Pack: The Innovative Whack Pack takes the principles from Roger von Oech’s book Expect the Unexpected or You Won’t Find It, which explores some of the provocative epigrams of Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher who the author calls the world’s first creativity teacher. He uses these enigmatic sayings as springboards to fuel your imagination and help you to break out of old, limiting ways of thinking. This card deck contains 60 cards. Each one contains a thought-provoking insight about innovation from Heraclitus on one side, along with a whimsical illustration designed to help “whack” your thinking out of its well-worn grooves. The other side of the card contains a creativity strategy inspired by the insight or principle. At the end of these provoking vignettes, von Oech poses several questions to stimulate your creative thinking. This tool and its predecessor, the Creative Whack Pack, are among the best-selling creativity tools ever invented.

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            Inner Vision Deck: The Inner Vision Deck is a card deck of 69 keywords and phrases that can be used for creative problem solving. Designed by Rory O’Connor, a creativity and creative problem-solving trainer, this new brainstorming tool arose out of his need to teach his clients a “gentle” (non-intimidating) approach to developing ideas and solutions.
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            Why invest in brainstorming tools like these? They serve as catalysts, jump-starting your brain’s creative juices. Some brainstorming tools ask you questions, while others rely on a variety of proven associative or lateral thinking techniques. The bottom line is that these diminutive tools get results, and because of their compact size, you can use them just about anywhere. What’s more, their learning curve is quite low; in other words, you can begin generating profitable ideas with them almost immediately.

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            Last Updated on July 13, 2020

            How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

            How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

            Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

            If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

            1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

            The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

            Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

            For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

            The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

            2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

            Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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            As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

            Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

            3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

            Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

              This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

              We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

              Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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              When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

              Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

              4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

              Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

              For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

              Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

              5. Make Decisions

              For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

              If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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              If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

              Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

              I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

              This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

              The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

              6. Take Some Form of Action

              Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

              The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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              It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

              Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

              The Bottom Line

              Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

              When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

              More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

              Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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