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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 March 23, 2021

            Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

            Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

            One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

            The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

            You need more than time management. You need energy management

            1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

            How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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            I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

            I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

            2. Determine your “peak hours”

            Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

            Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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            My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

            In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

            Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

            3. Block those high-energy hours

            Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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            Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

            If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

            That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

            There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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            Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

            Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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