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Unleash your Inner Genius

Unleash your Inner Genius
Your Inner Genius

    Let’s say you are wrestling with a tough issue – maybe at work, at home, with your children or in your social life. You have been stuck for a while and you can’t seem to make a breakthrough. You want to come up with some really creative ideas. What can you do? Here are ten great practical ways to boost your inventiveness and to crack the problem:

    1. Ask why, why? Ask, ‘why has this issue arisen?’ Come up with six different reasons and for each of them ask, ‘why did this happen?’ Keep asking why for each cause. This helps you to better understand the different reasons why this is a problem and so in turn you will see different possible solutions.

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    2. Sleep on it. Ponder the issue and all its aspects for some time and then put it out of your mind. Get a good night’s sleep. The subconscious mind goes to work and often you come up with great ideas the next day.

    3. Talk it over with someone who has nothing to do with the situation. They will often ask basic questions or make seemingly silly suggestions that prompt good ideas. Two heads are better than one but people who are too close to the issue will often come up with the same ideas as you, so try an outsider.

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    4. Ask how some celebrity would tackle the issue – what would Steve Jobs do? Or Bob Geldof , or Richard Branson, or Salvador Dali or Margaret Thatcher or Madonna or Sherlock Holmes? Take each individual’s approach to its extremes and it will likely give you some radical solutions.

    5. Pick up any object at random and say to yourself, ‘this item contains the key to solving the problem.’ Then force some ideas. Try this with several different objects and you will have a selection of radical and inventive ideas.

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    6. Use similes. Try to think of a different problem in another walk of life that is like your problem. Say you want your staff at work to try new ways of working. You might imagine that this is like getting your children to eat vegetables. List various methods you might use with your children to encourage or persuade them to try vegetables. Then go through the list and then see if any of the ideas can be converted into things you can try at work.

    7. Imagine an ideal solution in a world where there are no constraints -e.g. you can use any resource you want. Now work back from that ideal and challenge each of the constraints that is holding you back from achieving it. Many of the obstacles can be overcome when you take this approach.

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    8. Open a dictionary and take any noun at random. Write down six attributes of that noun – so for tree you might write – root, branch, family, apple, trunk and tall. Then force some links between the word or its attributes and the problem in order to come up with fresh ideas. You will be surprised at how well this works – for individuals or in a group.

    9. Ponder the issue and then go for a walk around an art gallery or museum. The range of external stimuli will help you conceive plenty of new ideas.

    10. Draw a picture of the situation showing the people and the issues in simple cartoon style. Put it up on the wall and then imagine how the story could develop. Think of it as a cartoon strip. Many people’s brains work better in images than in words or numbers so this can lead to fantastic ideas.

    These methods work for individuals and for groups. Try them and see what suits you best. Above all keep reminding yourself – there are some great solutions for my problem – I haven’t found the right one yet but I will!

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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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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