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HomeNewsArchivesOctober 2008 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

October 2008 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

Nov. 2, 2008 – As you read this, I shall be in sunny California, making up for the British summer that never was. I'll be collecting some ideas to share with you when I get back, but for now here are a few I prepared earlier…
1: The danger of new systems
Gina Trapani, one of the editors of the useful blog lifehacker.com, was interviewed a while back, and her comment on systems hit home for me – maybe it will for you, too:
"Pick a system and stick with it. The irony of productivity media is that it gives you an excuse to put off actually doing the stuff on your to-do list by trying out a new way to keep track of your to-do list.
"The value of technology and gadgets is how much they can provide me with uninterrupted time, but I don't think that's the popular viewpoint. I think most people see the value in gadgets and tech as things that keep them constantly connected and bathed in up-to-the-second information wherever they go, whatever they're doing – which is only a good thing up to a point."
Action: Before you take on learning a new system or a new gadget that will take time to learn, consider whether it really will be any better – or just shinier and newer.
2: Experiment – and stop fighting yourself
Keri Smith is an artist who also writes books such as "The Guerrilla Art Kit." In an interview with Cecil Vortex, she brought up some interesting ideas about experimenting:
"If you watch children creating, they often treat everything as an exercise where everything that happens is just part of the exploration process (not a means to an end). It is adults that place value on the final product; children see it more as a journey -'What if I add blue to the page?'"
And one more good point from her:
"I have a short attention span, so if I do projects that are manageable in size (read: smaller), then I have a much better chance of finishing them. I think it's about working with your personality instead of fighting it."
Action: How long has it been since you've experimented with some part of your life just for the fun of it? What might be a good thing to do in that direction? And in what parts of your life are you fighting your personality? How could you go with it instead?
3: And here are some experiments to get you started…
If you like the idea of experimenting, as mentioned in item 2 above, but can't think of what to do, here are six from a list of 100 that Keri Smith suggests. Her complete list is at: http://www.kerismith.com/funstuff/100ideas.htm
1: Write a haiku.
2: Write a letter to someone you admire.
3: Put postcards or art pieces/paintings on the inside of your kitchen cupboard door so you see them every day (but not become deaf to them)
4: List your ten most important things (not including animals or people)
5: List then things you would like to do every day.
6: Create a graph documenting or measuring something in your life
Action: Do one of the above, just for the fun of it. Or make up your own (and send me your ideas at j4london@aol.com – thanks!)
Sometimes playing turns into painful procrastination. Have you signed up yet for my free eight-lesson mini-course in overcoming it? Just sign up at www.tameyourinnercritic.com. You'll get one lesson per week – and I never share or sell my mailing list.
4: The difficulty of asking
Thirty years ago, Dr. Stanley Milgram conducted a study in which some of his graduate students boarded a crowded New York city subway train and asked someone else to give up their seat, without offering a specific reason. It worked 68 percent of the time. In 2004, a pair of New York Times reporters decided to try it again and got even better results: 13 out of the 15 people they asked gave up their seats.
In both cases what was equally interesting was how difficult the askers found this task. Disappointed that most of his students refused to do it, Milgram decided to try it himself. In a 1974 interview in "Psychology Today," he admitted that he froze: "The words seemed lodged in my trachea and simply would not come out." When he finally managed it and the other person gave up the seat, Milgram felt compelled to act like he was not feeling well in order to justify the request. His students found it just as hard; one said she nearly fainted from the stress of asking.
Action: Most of us find it quite difficult to ask for what we want. What's one thing you want that you will ask for today? (Mine is: if you've read and enjoyed either "FOCUS: The Power of targeted Thinking" or "Your Writing Coach," would you be kind enough to go to your Amazon site and write a nice, brief review and rating? You don't even have to give up your seat…)
5: Tom Hopkins' prescription for success (however you define it)
I warn you, this is a tough one, but it's good. It's Tom Hopkins' formula for reaching your goal, whatever it may be. He advises us to repeat these four steps:
* Tell yourself, "I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment."
* Decide what the most productive thing is at that moment.
* Do it.
* When you've pushed that thing as far forward as you can now, go back to step one and start over.
He acknowledges that often the most productive thing will also be the one you feel least like doing and there will be times when you'll fall short. When that happens, re-dedicate yourself and start again. I confess I haven't mastered this one…but I'm working on it! (And of course sometimes the most productive thing to do is to take a break in the sunshine :-)).
Action: If you want to try this approach, I suggest you add one step: when you have decided the most productive thing, write it down on a sticky note and keep it in front of your face; otherwise, it's easy to forget the moment you get distracted. Try doing this for just an hour a day to start – when you see the results, you'll want to expand the experiment.
6: And a quote to consider:
"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." – Albert Einstein
Until next time,
PS: If you haven't looked at my blog recently, you've missed some fascinating stuff. Go have a look now; it's at www.timetowrite.blogs.com.
PPS: If you're into writing, have a look at my book, "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey. The Web site is www.yourwritingcoach.com. Some of the stuff on the site requires you to type in code words from the book but there's also a lot of free material. There's more on the www.timetowrite.com site.
If you want to a free course (8 mini-lessons, one per week) on overcoming procrastination, just sign up at www.tameyourinnercritic.com. You'll also find a wealth of right-brain breakthrough ways to achieve your goals in my newest book, "Focus: the power of targeted thinking." The Web site for it is www.focusquick.com

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