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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.

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      Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

      Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

      There’s a dark side to the conveniences of the Digital Age. With smartphones that function like handheld computers, it has become increasingly difficult to leave our work behind. Sometimes it seems like we’re expected to be accessible 24/7.

      How often are you ever focused on just one thing? Most of us try to meet these demands by multi-tasking.

      Many of us have bought into the myth that we can achieve more through multi-tasking. In this article, I’ll show you how you can accomplish more work in less time. Spoiler alert: multi-tasking is not the answer.

      Why is multitasking a myth?

      The term “multi-tasking” was originally used to describe how microprocessors in computers work. Machines multitask, but people cannot.

      Despite our inability to simultaneously perform two tasks at once, many people believe they are excellent multi-taskers.

      You can probably imagine plenty of times when you do several things at once. Maybe you talk on the phone while you’re cooking or respond to emails during your commute.

      Consider the amount of attention that each of these tasks requires. Chances are, at least one of the two tasks in question is simple enough to be carried out on autopilot.

      We’re okay at simultaneously performing simple tasks, but what if you were trying to perform two complex tasks? Can you really work on your presentation and watch a movie at the same time? It can be fun to try to watch TV while you work, but you may be unintentionally making your work more difficult and time-consuming.

      Your brain on multi-tasking

      Your brain wasn’t designed to multi-tasking. To compensate, it will switch from task to task. Your focus turns to whatever task seems more urgent. The other task falls into the background until you realize you’ve been neglecting it.

      When you’re bouncing back and forth like this, an area of the brain known as Broadmann’s Area 10 activates. Located in your fronto-polar prefrontal cortex at the very front of the brain, this area controls your ability to shift focus. People who think they are excellent multitaskers are really just putting Broadmann’s Area 10 to work.

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      But I can juggle multiple tasks!

      You are capable of taking in information with your eyes while doing other things efficiently. Scientifically speaking, making use of your vision is the only thing you can truly do while doing something else.

      For everything else, you’re serial tasking. This constant refocusing can be exhausting, and it prevents us from giving our work the deep attention it deserves.

      Think about how much longer it takes to do something when you have to keep reminding yourself to focus.

      Why multitasking is failing you

      Multitasking does more bad than good to your productivity, here’re 4 reasons why you should stop multitasking:

      Multitasking wastes your time.

      You lose time when you interrupt yourself. People lose an average of 2.1 hours per day getting themselves back on track when they switch between tasks.

      In fact, some studies suggest that doing multiple things at once decreases your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s a significant loss in efficiency. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to be 40% less productive while you’re on the operating table, would you?

      It makes you dumber.

      A distracted brain performs a full 10 IQ points lower than a focused brain. You’ll also be more forgetful, slower at completing tasks, and more likely to make mistakes.

      You’ll have to work harder to fix your mistakes. If you miss an important detail, you could risk injury or fail to complete the task properly.

      This is an emotional response.

      There’s so much data suggesting that multitasking is ineffective but people insist that they can multitask.

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      Feeling productive fulfills an emotional need. We want to feel like we’re accomplishing something. Why accomplish just one item on the to-do list when you can check off two or three?

      It’ll wear you out.

      When you’re jumping from task to task, it can feel invigorating for a little while. Over time, this needs to fill every second with more and more work leads to burn out.

      We’re simply not built to multitask, so when we try, the effect can be exhausting. This destroys your productivity and your motivation.

      How to stop multitasking and work productively

      Flitting back and forth between tasks feels second-nature after a while. This is in part because Broadmann’s Area 10 becomes better at serial tasking through time.

      In addition to changing how the brain works, this serial tasking behavior can quickly turn into a habit.

      Just like any bad habit, you’ll need to recognize that you need to make a change first. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to adjust to a lifestyle of productive mono-tasking:

      1. Consciously change gears

      Instead of trying to work on two distinct tasks at once, consider setting up a system to remind you when to change focus. This technique worked for Jerry Linenger, an American astronaut onboard the space station, Mir.

      As an astronaut, he had many things to take care of every day. He set alarms for himself on a few watches. When a particular watch sounded, he knew it was time to switch tasks. This enabled him to be 100% in tune with what he was doing at any given moment.

      This strategy is effective because the alarm served as his reminder for what was to come next. Linenger’s intuition about setting reminders falls in line with research conducted by Paul Burgess of University College, London on multitasking.

      2. Manage multiple tasks without multitasking

      Raj Dash of Performancing.com has an effective strategy for balancing multiple projects without multitasking. He suggests taking 15 minutes to acquaint yourself with a new project before moving on to other work. Revisit the project later and do about thirty minutes on research and brainstorming.

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      Allow a few days to pass before knocking out the project in question. While you were actively work on other projects, your brain continues to problem solve-in the background.

      This method works because it gives us the opportunity to work on several projects without allowing them to compete for your attention.

      3. Set aside distractions

      Your smartphone, your inbox and the open tabs on your computer are all open invitations for distraction. Give yourself time each day when you silence your notifications, close your inbox and remove unnecessary tabs from your desktop.

      If you want to focus, you can’t give anything else an opportunity to invade your mental space.

      Emails can be particularly invasive because they often have an unnecessary sense of urgency associated with them. Some work cultures stress the importance of prompt responses to these messages, but we can’t treat every situation like an emergency.

      Designate certain times in your day for checking and responding to emails to avoid compulsive checking.

      4. Take care of yourself

      We often blame electronics for pulling us from our work, but sometimes our physical body forces us into a state of serial tasking. If you’re hungry while you’re trying to work, your attention will flip between your hunger and your work until you take care of your physical needs.

      Try to take all your bio-breaks before you sit down for an uninterrupted stint of work.

      In addition, you’ll also want to be sure you’re attending to your health in a broader sense. Getting enough exercise, practicing mindfulness and incorporating regular breaks into your day will keep you from being tempted by distractions.

      5. Take a break

      People are more likely to head to YouTube or check their social media when they need a break. Instead of trying to work and watch a mindless video at the same time, give yourself times when you’re allowed to enjoy your distracting activity of choice.

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      Limit how much time you’ll spend on this break so that your guilt-free distraction time doesn’t turn into hours of wasted time.

      6. Make technology your ally

      Scientists are beginning to discover the detrimental effects of chronic serial tasking on our brains. Some companies are developing programs to curb this desire to multitask.

      Apps like Forest turn staying focused into a game. Extensions like RescueTime help you track your online habits so that you can be more aware of how you spend your time.

      The key to productivity: Focus

      Multitasking is not the key to productivity. It’s far better to schedule time to focus on each task than it is to try to do everything at once.

      Make use of the methods outlined above and prepare to be more effective and less exhausted in the process.

      If you want to learn more about how to focus, don’t miss my other article:

      How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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