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The Idea Generator Brings Brainstorming to the iPhone and iPod Touch Platform

The Idea Generator Brings Brainstorming to the iPhone and iPod Touch Platform

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    Considering the variety of applications you can download for the iPhone and iPod Touch from Apple’s comprehensive AppStore, it was only a matter of time until someone introduced a brainstorming tool for these popular devices: The Idea Generator. Developed by creative consultancy The Director’s Bureau, this intriguing tool uses randomly-displayed words to help you generate ideas for your next creative project.

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    The user interface of the Idea Generator is a marvel of elegance and simplicity, and it’s fun to use. Three concentric circles fill the screen, emblazoned with random words. Situated horizontally across the middle of the screen is a display bar, which appears to have a magnifier embedded within it. This window displays the words selected by the Idea Generator. At the hub of the wheel is an icon with two arrows, which, when pressed, spins the counter-rotating wheels. You can also spin the wheels by shaking the iPhone, adding a fun element to your brainstorming session. When the wheels stop spinning, the display bar shows three words, which you can use as stepping stones to creative ideas.

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    For example, one recent session displayed the words “multi-lingual,” “rubber” and “hotel.” Sounds kinky, eh? Actually, you’re not supposed to take the words literally. Their main value is to be a stepping stone to productive ideas. For example, the words multi-lingual and hotel could lead to a new concept for a chain of hotels with the atmosphere of an international youth hostel. Or you might take the word rubber and spend some time thinking about its inherent qualities (cushioning, resilient, etc.), and how you could apply one of those to your current creative challenge.

    If none of these randomly-selected words connects with your muse, you can simply push the spin button or shake the iPhone again, and three more random words will appear in the selection window. If you find one or two words that you really like, you can use small lock buttons embedded in the display bar to lock those words in place, and spin the remaining wheels to generate additional keyword stimuli. I found this to be a little bit like playing a hand of poker, in which you hold on to one or two cards, while discarding the rest of your hand and asking the dealer for several new ones. You don’t know what you’re going to get, but there’s always the potential to improve your hand!

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    The Idea Generator is simple enough that you can begin brainstorming with it immediately. But you can vastly increase its utility by customizing its word database. Clicking a small button in the lower right hand corner of the program’s screen gives you access to a “word lists” screen, where you can delete words from the left, middle and right word lists and add your own ones to customize it to your needs, your industry or your profession. Another possibility is to find a list of words that are known to stimulate creative thought, and add them to your Idea Generator. One source for those is Michael Michalko’s excellent book, Thinkertoys. Another is Gerald Haman’s popular brainstorming tool, the KnowBrainer.

    In short, the Idea Generator is a marvelous little tool that can help you to generate valuable ideas and can take your thinking in fresh new directions. It’s available for download from the Apple AppStore, accessible from your iPhone or iPod Touch. At $.99, the Idea Generator one of the least expensive brainstorming tools you’ll find anywhere.

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    Last Updated on September 17, 2018

    How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

    How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

    Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

    Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

    All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

    Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

    How bad really is multitasking?

    It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

    Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

    This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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    We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

    So what to do about it?

    Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

    Now, forget about how to multitask!

    Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

    1. Get enough rest

    When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

    This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

    When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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    2. Plan your day

    When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

    When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

    Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

    3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

    I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

    I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

    Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

    4. When at your desk, do work

    We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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    Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

    5. Learn to say no

    Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

    Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

    By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

    6. Turn off notifications on your computer

    For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

    Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

    7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

    Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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    You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

    The bottom line

    Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

    Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

    Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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