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Why You Should Become Curious Today

Why You Should Become Curious Today

Entrepreneurs are a curious breed. They are certainly not your average person (in my opinion anyway).

When I co-founded a start up boutique advertising agency, I discovered that I was definitely in the entrepreneurial category (in fact, I didn’t really have a choice!).

It taught me a lot about myself and my own habits and traits, one of which is a natural sense of curiosity. Now I believe being curious is a really great habit to take up. It might sound a bit odd, but being curious is essential – especially if you want to be an entrepreneur.

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A natural sense of curiosity lends itself to innovation and thinking differently, and these are crucial entrepreneurial skills.

What does being curious mean?

Think about it for a moment – when you’re curious, you’re certainly not bored. Curiosity is a natural state that stimulates new ideas and innovation. When you’re curious, you’re engaged, you’re listening, you’re AWAKE!

What I’ve also noticed is that curious people tend to consume information as a means of inspiration. They soak up information like a sponge and are consistently learning from every channel available to them. This habit is what fuels innovation and the ability to come up with creative ideas inspired by ongoing stimulation.

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Curiosity inspires new ways of doing things

Curiosity breeds a natural desire to challenge traditional ways of doing things, and this, in turn, stimulates innovation. Curious people are constantly looking for ways to improve everyday things and build upon existing successes.

They are positive in their approach – it’s not a case of showcasing other peoples failures, but a natural desire to keep on improving things.

Curiosity breeds agile minds and flexible thinking

Curious people tend to have very fast minds because they consume so much information. They have an insatiable thirst for knowledge that leads to agile thinking. When you are curious, you also tend to be more flexible with your thought processes. This flexibility is essential if you want to succeed in today’s fast-paced environment. If you look at the most successful companies over the last few years such as Google and Facebook, one thing they have in common is that they embrace change swiftly, and it’s this approach that sees them retain their leadership positions.

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Curiosity encourages problem solving

When we are curious, we naturally focus on solutions instead of problems. This leads to the development of intelligent problem solving skills. What’s great about this skill is that it can be used anywhere, from within the work environment through to solving issues in the home. Once you develop a habit to problem-solve, it follows you everywhere you go and makes it easier to enjoy life.

Curiosity turns scary challenges into fun adventures!

When a challenge pops up, do you react with fear and apprehension or do you approach it with an air of curiosity? When we’re curious, everything is an adventure! No challenge is too big and no problem is too difficult for us to solve because we approach life with a positive, solution-oriented mindset. Curiosity lends itself to asking questions, instead of getting caught up in negative thinking and “can’t” attitudes.

Here’s an example of a non-curious approach to a challenge verus a curious approach:

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A non curious approach might see us saying or thinking things like this:

  • “I can’t believe this has happened to me!”  (notice how this is lead by fear)
  • “This system is just useless!” (this is a complaint with no desire to fix the problem)
  • “There’s no point trying — I’ll never find the answer.” (negative thinking)

Conversely, when we are curious, we ask questions like this:

  • “Can we come up with a new way of doing this?”
  • “What if we were to look at it from this perspective?”
  • “Why isn’t this working? I bet there’s a better way of doing things.”

If you’re feeling bored with life and in need of a fresh approach, I would highly recommend adopting curiosity as a new habit. Before you know it you will be inspired and motivated to generate new ideas, projects, and ways of doing things differently!

Here are a few ways you can start to ignite your own curiosity:

  • Make a concerted effort to keep up to date with new innovations (research new forms of social media)
  • Make it a habit to regularly try new things (try a new recipe, route to work, or even a new exercise class)
  • Be like a sponge – soak up new information from a variety of different places (at work, home, from strangers on the street, from magazines, books, movies, your phone – anywhere!)
  • Listen to other people’s opinions and learn from them (actively ask people what they think)
  • Don’t be afraid to debate the status quo (constantly challenge things!)
  • Put aside some time to regularly brainstorm about new innovations (both on your own and with other creative, entrepreneurial minds)
  • Think of ways to improve upon things (you never know — your idea may just be better!)

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Published on July 17, 2018

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

What is compartmentalization

To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

Reframe the problem as a question

Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

Choose one thing to focus on

To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

Comparmentalization saves you stress

Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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