New Year Brainstorm

2002

1. Make a 'not-to-do' list


Many of us start the day with a to-do list, but recently I ran across a suggestion to also have a not-to-do list. In other words, as well as identifying those things we need to do, it can be useful to be aware of those things we normally do, but that do not serve us well. The do-nots might include: do not spend more than 30 minutes answering e-mail (or do not check e-mail more than twice a day), do not let non-emergency things that come up distract you from the most important things you set out to do today, and do not give in to the tyranny of the telephone.

2. Everything is an opportunity to be creative
In How magazine, Mark Oldach writes, "No project is too small, insignificant or boring for creative thinking. Forms, postcards, and newsletters all provide opportunities for innovation. Every time I look at a project, I want to maximise its impact and interest. I want to solicit a reaction - an emotional reaction - from the audience or user." Oldach is writing from a design perspective, but how could you apply this to some aspect of what you do? It might be useful to look for one small thing today you can make more appealing or interesting by applying your creativity.

3. Play trend poker
Andy Hines, who works as an "ideation leader" for Dow Chemical has invented a game he calls Trend Poker, which you can play individually or in teams. On index cards you write down the trends that affect your field as well as general social trends. A general example might be, "Communication via e-mail rather than written letters." An example specific to the field of writing might be, "Increased interest in mind-body-spirit" topics." Then you mix them up, deal them one at a time, and brainstorm ideas for new ideas for how to do whatever you do.

For example, in response to the e-mail trend, a writer might come up with the idea of a novel written entirely in the form of e-mails, or an interactive on-line novel that requires the reader to answer a question in order to be sent the next chapter. Playing trend poker is an enjoyable way to make sure that you're keeping up with the latest developments in your field.

4. Bright idea: keep the instructions handy
If you received a new gizmo of some kind for Christmas, sometime in the coming months you are likely to need to refer to the instructions or manual.

Here is a bright idea from Verco, the folks who make the Maya range of office seating: each chair comes with a pocket under the seat where the instruction can be kept permanently. You can adapt the idea by taping a plastic envelope underneath or near the gadgets you use the most (fax machines, copy machines, printers, etc.) to make sure the instructions do not go astray.

5. Stretch for relaxation
If, like me, you find yourself hunched over a keyboard much of the time, a tip from Mens Health magazine may come in handy. Their advice: every few hours, sit up straight, clasp your hands behind your back and lift them straight up and hold for ten seconds. This will open your chest and relax your shoulders and back. Give it a try now! If you want to make it a habit, put it on your to-do list inbetween other items.

6. And fnally . . .
Sometimes there may be such a thing as too much creativity! Here's an item from the Press Association: Welder Mike Madden, 48, is an amateur inventor. He designed a "bird-feeding hat" -- a hat with a tray holding bird seed and nuts -- and wore it himself on its inaugural test run near his home in West Yorkshire, England. "I was out walking through the woods with my friend Craig," he said. "Kaboom, I was on the floor. I didn't see much of what happened but Craig told me he saw the squirrel flying through the air and land right on my head." It attacked the food tray with such force that it destroyed the headgear, and Madden is being treated for whiplash. "I've always liked squirrels, but once you've had one land on your head traveling about 30 mph you can easily go off them."

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About The Author

Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen Wolff

Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. His goal is to help individuals liberate their own creativity through specific techniques that can be used at work as well as at home. His recent books include "Focus: the power of targeted thinking," a W. H. Smith best-seller, and "Your Writing Coach".

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