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Kickstart Your Creativity By Writing 750 Words a Day

Kickstart Your Creativity By Writing 750 Words a Day

    If you are a creative person, you may understand the idea of writer’s block in some form or fashion. You don’t have to necessarily be a writer to experience this, in fact software engineers, artists, or anyone that has to create things for a living is susceptible to the horrible affliction of writer’s block.

    There are a ton of ideas out their on how  to get over this creativity stumbling block, but they all come back to a standard tome.

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    Work.

    Creativity is work no matter which way you slice it. It isn’t always fun and in paraphrasing Merlin Mann, “you don’t need a beret to be creative.” Creativity is a dirty job. It is something that requires passion, long hours, and banging your head against the wall. It requires you to make a ton of mistakes along the path of creating something awesome. Creativity isn’t about being perfect; it’s a about working hard and making things, having ideas, scrapping projects, and getting to a point where something you have made is awesome.

    I am about to be a full time Programmer Analyst for an insurance company and have found that in working part time I have a lot to learn. I create crappy code and refactor it until it is something that is decent and then refactor it again until it is readable and somewhat efficient. It takes time and energy to make code that is worth a damn. To get to the spot of creating something that is worthwhile, I had to make a bunch of stuff that kind of sucked.

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    750 Words

    This is where the idea of 750 words a day comes in. I have partaken in writing 750 words a day for the past 90 days and I have to say that it is truly liberating. What this practice does is allow me to make mistakes and write a bunch of crap every day to get ideas out of my head and on to paper without being too critical of myself for 15 minutes.

    Writing 750 words a day is all about letting your “stream of consciousness” take the wheel allowing yourself to not think too much about what you are writing. It wakes up the creative “juices” and helps you get ready to work on real project that requires your full attention.

    The practice

    Writing 750 words a day is not at all my idea. I heard about it a while back in the form of “Morning Pages” which is the idea to write about 3 pages, long hand, every single morning. It is part of Julia Cameron’s, “The Artist’s Way” which can be combined with “The Artist’s Date” which is a weekly “date” with yourself to explore something creative that interests you.

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    I highly suggest writing your 750 words every morning, but you can write them anytime. There really isn’t a wrong way to do this; just as long as you write 750 words a day no matter what. Also, don’t try to critique anything you write or edit it while you go. In fact, don’t even re-read the crap that you wrote. Just let it come out, whatever it is, and then be done with it until the next day. This helps you to get in the habit of creating something without being critical.

      The tools

      I can’t say that there is any one tool or set of tools that make you a better “750 word writer”. You can use a junky notebook, a text file, a Word document, or even the 750words.com service. No matter what you use to write with the most important part is to write.

      Being the techy that I am as well as being obsessed with stats, I chose the 750words.com service. It’s free to use and keeps track of what you write. It also has monthly challenges that you can sign up for to keep you on the right track. Over the past 90 days I have written a total of 68,567 words. Most of which are total junk I am sure, but what is nice about 750words.com is that it parses your writing and gives you charts and graphs of what emotions your content carries, the “maturity” of your writing, your concerns, and your mindset. It’s a handy way to see what you are writing about and a good way to keep you motivated.

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      Get to work

      Now that you have a decent tool to overcome writer’s block and to spawn creativity it’s time to use it. We can think of a thousand reasons why 750 words a day won’t work for us or will be too hard or is stupid, but the fact still remains that we have to do something to induce creativity. Writing like this everyday is an awesome way to start and no matter what field you are in this practice can benefit you.

      More by this author

      CM Smith

      A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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      Last Updated on February 18, 2019

      How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

      How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

      These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

      58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

      Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

      “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

      So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

      Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

      1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

      The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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      Encourage Your Employees

      When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

      Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

      Offer Rewards

      Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

      The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

      Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

      Give Autonomy

      Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

      Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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      Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

      2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

      I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

      Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

      For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

      We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

      Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

      A To Do Scheduling System

      Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

      The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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      I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

      With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

      Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

      3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

      The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

      “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

      An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

      What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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      Ask If They like What They’re Doing

      If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

      There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

      “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

      The Bottom Line

      Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

      Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

      For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

      Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

      More Resources About Team Management

      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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