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reverse graffiti (2)I already wrote in a previous blog post about being more creative by doing things the other way around. Instead of doing things in the regular, logical, straightforward fashion, you get a fresh perspective and generate new ideas by doing the opposite of what would normally be expected.

I recently came across three great examples of this, and I wanted to share them with you. The three examples are the following:

  • Reverse Brainstorming
  • Reverse Graffiti
  • The Inversion Technique

You’ll find an explanation of these three examples, below.

Reverse Brainstorming

Reverse Brainstorming is a technique in which you state your problem in reverse. For example, you change a positive statement into a negative one, you try to define what something is not, and so on.

Basically, it’s a combination of the well-known brainstorming technique with the technique of changing your perspective so that you can look at the problem or situation from a completely different angle.

Cyriel Kortleven has a great illustration of this on his blog. The example he uses is networking. Instead of asking yourself how you can triple your networking in a month so that you can make more contacts, which could potentially lead to more sales, you could ask yourself something like the following: How can I make sure that no one ever contacts me?

One way no one would contact you is if they don’t have any way to reach you because they don’t have your contact information. And if you never carry business cards with you, people wouldn’t have your contact information. So, how can you can make sure that no one ever contacts you? By never carrying your business cards with you.

Cyriel then recommends that you reverse things once again. Therefore, “Never carry business cards with you” would become, “Always carry lots of business cards with you”. Then, you just magnify that:

  • I’m going to give a business card to everyone I come across.
  • I’m going to have a t-shirt made with all of my contact information on it and wear it to my next networking event.
  • Every time that I meet someone at a networking event I’m going to have my picture taken with that person and send it to them via email after the event with a note saying it was great meeting them (of course, in the picture you’re wearing the t-shirt will all of your contact information on it).

Reverse Graffiti

Although graffiti–done well–can be an art form, it’s often an act of vandalism. A clean wall or surface is defaced with ugly scribbles, profanity written in spray paint, illegal advertisements, and so on.

Reverse graffiti is the opposite of this. A dirty wall covered in soot and grime is beautified by cleaning it in such a way that shapes–often trees, flowers, birds, and so on– are created on the wall.

The image below–as well as the image at the top of this blog post–is an example of reverse graffiti:

reverse graffiti

Reverse graffiti is often a call on government to clean up dirty, neglected public spaces.

The Inversion Technique

The inversion technique is similar to reverse brainstorming. Here’s an example of the technique from Josh Kaufman’s book, “The First 20 Hours”:

By studying the opposite of what you want, you can identify important elements that aren’t immediately obvious. Take white-water kayaking. What would I need to know if I wanted to be able to kayak in a large, fast-moving, rock-strewn river?

Here’s the inversion: What would it look like if everything went wrong?

  • I’d flip upside down underwater, and not be able to get back up.
  • I’d flood my kayak, causing it to sink or swamp, resulting in a total loss of the kayak.
  • I’d hit my head on a rock.
  • I’d lose my paddle, eliminating my maneuverability.
  • I’d eject from my kayak, get stuck in a hydraulic (a point in the river where the river flows back on itself, creating a loop like a washing machine) and not be able to get out.

If I managed to do all of these things at once in the middle of a raging river, I’d probably die – the worst-case scenario. This depressing line of thought is useful because it points to a few white-water kayaking skills that are probably very important:

  • Learning to roll the kayak right side up if it flips, without ejecting.
  • Learning how to prevent swamping the kayak if ejecting is necessary.
  • Learning how to avoid losing my paddle in rough water.
  • Learning and using safety precautions when rafting around large rocks.
  • Scouting the river before the run to avoid dangerous river features entirely.

This mental simulation also gives me a shopping list: I’d need to invest in a flotation vest, helmet, and other safety gear.

Now … I have a concrete list of subskills to practice and actions to take to ensure that I actually have fun, keep my gear, and survive the trip.

Conclusion

Start at the end; think of what you don’t want; flip it on it’s head . . .these are all examples of reverse thinking. Now think of a problem that you’re having or an obstacle that you’re facing, and apply reverse thinking. You might be surprised by the ideas you come up with.

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creativity quotesWhether or not you know it, there’s a little artist inside of you longing to create something new. If you’ve ignored your inner artist for so long that he or she has fallen into a deep slumber, these 25 creativity quotes will serve to reawaken them.

1. “Creativity is an endlessly renewable resource, and we can tap into it at any time.” –Tina Seelig

2. “With enhanced creativity, instead of problems you see potential, instead of obstacles you see opportunities, and instead of challenges you see a chance to create breakthrough solutions.” — Tina Seelig

3. “Finding the medium that excites your imagination, that you love to play with and work in, is an important step to freeing your creative energies.” –Sir Ken Robinson, “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything”

4. “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” — Andy Warhol

5. “Letting your mind play is the best way to solve problems.” — Bill Watterson

6. “Creativity takes courage.” — Henri Matisse

7. “Creativity isn’t about wild talent as much as it’s about productivity. To find new ideas that work, you need to try a lot that don’t. It’s a pure numbers game.” — Robert Sutton

8. “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” –Steve Jobs

9. “Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” — Dee Hock

10. “You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.” — Frederick Terral

11. “Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about… say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.” — Rumi

12.”Why do we admire the true achievers and innovators of this world such as Steve Jobs? Because they appeal to our own creative souls, to our own desire to make a difference for humanity and to leave the Universe a better place when we depart than it was when we got here.” — from Life’s Secret Handbook

13. “Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.’” — Hugh MacLeod, “Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity”

14. “As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

15. “A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most kick-ass form. It’s a potent force that, when wielded with respect, will level any obstacle in its path. This is especially true when it comes to creative pursuits.” ― Chris Baty, “No Plot? No Problem!”

16. “Inspirations never go in for long engagements; they demand immediate marriage to action.”
― Brendan Francis Brown

17. “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” — Sylvia Plath

18. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

19. “Nothing comes from nothing. You must continuously feed the inner beast that sparks and inspires.” — George Lois, co-founder of Lois, Holland, Callaway

20. “Art reaches its greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make.” — Bruce Lee

21. “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” — Robert Henri

22. “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” — Steven Pressfield

23. “You take existing songs, you chop them up, you transform the pieces, you combine them back together again. These aren’t just the components of remixing, I think these are the basic elements of all creativity.” —- Kirby Ferguson

24. “From 30,000 feet, creating looks like art. From ground level, it’s a to-do list” – Ben Arment

25. “Spend your time and energy creating, not criticizing.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

How about another 75 creativity quotes, for a total of 100? Here you go.

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summer shoes“Summer time and the living is easy, fish are jumpin, and the cotton is high” . . . and so goes the song written by George and Ira Gershwin way back in the 1930′s. The long, lazy days of summer are here.

Beach weather, watermelons, fruit-flavored sorbets, sand-between-your-toes, fireworks, barbecues, flip flops and bathing suits come to mind for most people when they think of summer. And today, something else also comes to mind: summer bucket lists.

idea-book-summerUse my eBook,  “Idea Book – 500 Ideas For Your Bucket List” to create your ultimate summer bucket list. “Idea Book – 500 Ideas For Your Summer Bucket List” has ideas to cover every aspect of your summer. Inside you’ll find the following:

  • 500 Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List
  • Divided Into 8 Main Categories
  • Further Divided Into 38 Subcategories
  • 159 Page PDF
  • 500 Images – One For Every Idea
  • Practical Descriptions For Each Idea
  • Over 25,000 Words
  • 375 Links to Videos and Helpful Websites

Below you’ll find 20  ideas taken from “Idea Book – 500 Ideas For Your Summer Bucket List”:

1. Run Through the Sprinklers

sprinklers

Put on your bathing suit and run through the sprinklers. Just turn on the sprinkler and proceed to run through over and over again until the cold water from the hose finally manages to cool you down from the summer heat. An added benefit is feeling the wet grass beneath your bare feet.

One idea, if you don’t have a sprinkler, is to attach an empty 2-liter bottle of coke to a hose with duct tape. Then, proceed to poke holes in three sides of the bottle with a small screwdriver.

You can even turn your backyard into a Splash Pad.

2. Build a Sand Castle

sand castle

Get yourself some cheap castle making pieces, pick a spot where the sand is moist but not too wet, and get to work on your master piece. When it’s done, take a photo from a worm’s eye view. Here’s an 8-part tutorial on monkeysee.com to help you out (it’s by a professional sand castle builder):

3. Go Geochaching

Go geocaching — an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS receiver and other navigational techniques to look for containers called “geocaches”.

Geochaching is a sport that combines technology and adventure. Once you find the container you log in your visit and you have the option of trading one of the “goodies” in the container with one of your own. Just visit geocaching.com to participate.

4. Make Tie-Dye Shirts

tie dye

Make tie-dye shirts. Do the following:

  • Get a plain 100% cotton shirt. Buy a dye kit which contains everything that you’ll need (except for the t-shirt).
  • Soak the t-shirt in a solution of warm water and soda ash for about 10 minutes.
  • After soaking, wring the shirt out thoroughly.
  • Create a spiral by creating a center point, with your finger or a stick, and spiraling the shirt around the center point.
  • Use large rubber bands to tie the shirt.
  • Have the different dye colors in different bowls and dip each section of the shirt in a different color.
  • Let the dye set.

Go out wearing your new groovy tie-dye shirt.

5. Make Root Beer Floats

root beer float

Root beer floats are a delicious summer treat. Just scoop some vanilla ice cream into a tall glass and pour your root beer over the vanilla ice cream, filling the glass as much as you can. Serve with a straw and a spoon.

6. Catch Fireflies

Fireflies are easy to spot: just go outside and look for the flashing lights. Be sure to bring a net, a clear jar–with holes punched in the lid–, and a flashlight. In addition, you should place a moistened paper towel in the jar to keep the air in the jar humid. You can keep the fireflies for a day or two before releasing back into the night.

7. Make Hawaiian Punch

http://abundance-blog.marelisa-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Tiki-mugs.jpg
Hawaiian punch is a great tropical drink which will quench your thirst during the hot summer months. Here’s a great recipe for Hawaiian Punch that includes orange juice, guava juice, pineapple juice, grenadines, and Ginger Ale (you can add rum, I won’t tell). Serve it in tiki mugs (because everything is more delicious in a tiki mug).

8. Ride a Ferris Wheel

ferris wheel

Go to a county fair at least once during the summer and ride the Ferris Wheel. When you get to the highest point of the Ferris wheel, take a selfie and send it to all your friends.

9. Host a 4th of July Barbecue

barbecue
Think hamburgers, hot dogs, and ribs. For side dishes you can have pasta salad, a green salad, and corn on the cob. Make sure that you have plenty of beverages for your guests to drink. Traditional beverages include iced tea, lemonade, and a cooler full of your favorite carbonated beverages, as well as beer for the adults.

Don’t forget to include some type of chocolate dessert.

10. Pick an Official “Summer 2014″ Song

Pick an official “Summer Song”; play it until you’re sick of it (or until your neighbors threaten to call the police). One song that lends itself to be listened to over and over again is “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Croft.

11. Make Lemonade

lemonade

Here’s an interesting, healthy recipe lemonade recipe (which I got from here):

4 apples
1/4 lemon

First. Run the apples and lemon through your electric vegetable juicer.
Second. Add nothing, no water, no sugar!
Third. Sit back and enjoy your lemonade.

You can also try watermelon lemonade, which is a Gooseberry Patch recipe:

4 c. watermelon, chopped
1 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. lemon juice
6 c. cold water

Place watermelon in a blender; process until smooth and set aside. In a large pitcher, combine sugar and lemon juice; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in water. Add watermelon; mix well. Serve very cold; stir well before serving. Makes 8-10 servings.

12. Plant Pint-sized Cherry Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets

tomato hanging basket

Plant pint-sized cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets. Baskets overflowing with cherry tomatoes are attractive, and they’re easy to harvest.

13. Collect Seashells at the Beach

SONY DSC

Go to the beach and collect seashells. You can put them in a mason jar and display them on a side table in your home, or you can use the seashells to make crafts. You can make seashell shadowboxes, seashell wreaths, or shell candles. The possibilities are endless.

14. Go On a Road Trip

Go on a road trip, preferably in a convertible. Plan a trip ahead of time, or simply hit the open road and see where it takes you. If you don’t own a convertible you can always rent one for the weekend.

15. Make Homemade Ice Cream

homemade ice cream

Make homemade ice cream—there are many recipes out there for making your own ice cream at home. Some recipes require an ice cream maker, but not all of them do. Making delicious ice cream is so easy, you’ll never want to shop for ice cream at the store again.

16. Play Marco Polo

Marco Polo (2)

Jump in the pool and play the perennial favorite, Marco Polo. We all know how this goes: everyone gets into the pool and one person is designated as “It”. “It” has to close his or her eyes and, with eyes closed at all times, try to tag the other players. When “It” calls out “Marco”, all of the other players have to call out, ”Polo”.

17. Play Baseball

play baseball

Gather your family or get a group of friends together and set up a baseball game. Baseball is challenging enough to keep things interesting, while being easy enough that anyone can play.

18. Play On a Slip-N-Slide

slip n slide (2)

Get a slip-n-slide– a long sheet of thin plastic flanked by tubes on both sides to which you can attach a garden hose to make it wet and slippery. You just run, jump on the slip n slide, and slide on the slippery surface.You can also create a homemade slip-n-slide.

An alternative to water is to use shaving cream.

19. Paint With Sidewalk Chalk

sidewalk chalk

Get a big box of sidewalk chalk and draw on the sidewalk. Better yet, make an art gallery on the sidewalk – you can choose an underwater theme, abstract art, or a floral theme. Another idea is to create a portrait gallery with each member of your family represented.

20. Make S’Mores

S'Mores (3)

Build a fire and make S’Mores, a summer classic. Although you can make them in the microwave, nothing beats the flavor of S’Mores cooked over a fire.

You can even have a S’Mores kit ready in your pantry. Just get a clear plastic box with a lid and fill it with everything that you need to make S’Mores—graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars.

Get 500 Summer Bucket List Ideas

idea-book-summer“Idea Book – 500 Ideas For Your Bucket List” has ideas to cover every aspect of your summer.

Inside you’ll find the following:

  • 500 Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List
  • Divided Into 8 Main Categories
  • Further Divided Into 38 Subcategories
  • 159 Page PDF
  • 500 Images – One For Every Idea
  • Practical Descriptions For Each Idea
  • Over 25,000 Words
  • 375 Links to Videos and Helpful Websites

The main eight categories into which the eBook is divided are the following:

  • Getting Ready for Summer
  • Summer Holidays and Celebrations
  • Summer Water Fun
  • Summer Food and Drinks
  • Summer Leisure
  • Summer Outdoors
  • Summer Self-Improvement
  • More Summer Fun

Here are two sample pages:

Idea Book - 500 Ideas For Your Summer Bucket List sample (2)

Get “Idea Book -500 Ideas For Your Summer Bucket List” for just $9.95. It’s a digital product, so you’ll receive it immediately upon purchase.

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I want you to be confident in your purchase, so I’m offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.

 

P.S. “How To Live Your Best Life – The Essential Guide for Creating and Achieving Your Life List”, will show you how to create your bucket list as a blueprint for your ideal life, and turn it into reality.

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Drumline WarmupSam Berns was an American who suffered from progeria, a rare genetic disorder in which symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age. He was born in 1996 and died in January of this year, at the age of 17.

In a Ted Talk he gave in October of 2013, Sam shared his philosophy for happiness. He indicated that there were many obstacles in his life, most of them created by progeria. However, he made the choice not to focus on the things he couldn’t do because of his disease. This is how he put it:

“Be OK with what you ultimately can’t do, because there’s so much you can do.”

Instead of thinking of the fact that he couldn’t run a long distance race, or ride an intense roller coaster, Sam chose to focus on the activities that he could do, and that he was passionate about. This included things such as the following:

  • Playing music
  • Reading comic books
  • Watching sports

At the same time, he would take a look at the list of things that he really wished that he could do, but couldn’t, and he would look for ways to make adjustments, so that he could participate in those activities. Here’s how Sam put it:

“Put things in the can do category by making adjustments.”

As an example, Sam wanted to play the snare drum in his high school’s marching band. But there was a problem: in order to play the snare drum as you march, you have to wear a harness. The harness and the drum weigh about 40 pounds, and Sam weighed a mere 50 pounds. Therefore, he couldn’t carry the snare drum, which meant that he couldn’t march with the band.

Because marching with the band was an important goal for Sam, he started looking for ways to make adjustments so that he could march with them during game half-times. Sam and his family worked with an engineer to design a snare drum harness that would be lighter and easier for Sam to carry.

They were able to come up with a snare drum apparatus—which included the drum and the drum carrier—which weighed only about six pounds. With this adjustment, Sam was able to achieve his dream of marching with the band.

The simple happiness exercise that can be derived from Sam’s philosophy is the following:

  • First, focus on the things you can do, instead of thinking of the things that you can’t do. Every time you find yourself thinking of something that you wish you could do, but can’t, make a list of at least five things that you’re passionate about and can do. Then, get up and go do one of those things.
  • Second, take a look at the list of things you can’t do–and wish you could–, and choose one of them. Then, start looking for creative ways to make adjustments, find an alternative way of doing things, or modify the goal slightly so that you can do it.

Conclusion

When Sam was asked what was the most important thing that he wanted people to know about him, his answer was the following: “I want people to know that I’m happy”. Sam had a simple happiness philosophy: focus on the good, and find creative ways to move things from the “I can’t” to the “I can” category. Live your best life by following this same philosophy.

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Is there a certain set of skills that everyone should have? I think so. Below you’ll discover 40 skills that every adult should master.

1. Learn How to Persuade Others. It’s important to know how to get others to say “yes” to your requests, whether it’s a request for someone to buy your products, a request to your boss for flextime, a request to your neighbor to stop parking so close to the curve, and so on.

By learning the principles that guide human behavior, and applying these principles ethically, you can significantly increase the chances that you’ll get what you want. As the video below explains, the six principles of influence–or persuasion– are the following:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment (and Consistency)
  • Social Proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

2. Learn Conscious Listening. Conscious listening is making a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but trying to understand the complete message being sent. Julian Treasure—who studies sound and teaches businesses how to best use it—recommends that you apply the acronym RASA, which is the Sanskrit word for juice or essence, in order to help you improve your listening.

RASA stands for the following:

  • Receive — which means to pay attention to the person speaking;
  • Appreciate–making little noises like “hmm,” “oh,” “okay”;
  • Summarize—summarize what you think you heard the other person say; and
  • Ask–ask questions afterward to make sure that you understood the other person’s message.

ear

3. Learn How to Communicate Assertively. Communicating assertively means that you make sure you’re calm; you know what you want; you speak directly to the person concerned and not behind their back; and you communicate your needs and–when appropriate–your feelings, in an honest, clear, and direct manner.

Here are two more points about communicating assertively:

  • Do not beat around the bush.
  • Don’t be confrontational.

One method of communication you can look into is Verbal Judo. Verbal Judo teaches tactical language, which is made up of words shaped to achieve the goal in front of you. That is, you say what you need to say in order to get the job done.

communication

4. Learn How to Make a Good First Impression. It takes someone about three seconds to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, and how you’re dressed. Whether in your career or in your social life, it’s important to learn how to make a good first impression.

5. Learn How to Network Effectively. Although lots of people hate networking, networking is important to your success. You need a strong network of professional contacts — people you can call on, and who know they can call on you, for advice, information, referrals, and introductions. Become part of the elite 29% that’s connected to everyone else by an average of six mutual friends (six degrees of separation).

networking

6. Learn How to Get Along With Others. It’s amazing how many people reach adulthood without having a clue on how to get along with others. A good place to start is with the advice given by Dale Carnegie in his classic book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. According to Carnegie, here are six ways to get others to like you:

  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Smile.
  • Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  • Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

friends

7. Learn How to Remember Names. How do you feel when someone you’ve only met once or twice greets you by your name? It makes you feel good. And it makes you feel warmly toward the other person. However, most people have difficulty remembering names. Remembering people’s names will go a long way toward helping you to get along well with others.

Benjamin Levy, author of Remember Every Name Every Time, recommends that you use the FACE method in order to remember names. “FACE” stands for the following:

  • Focus – focus carefully on the person’s face.
  • Ask- inquire which version he prefers (“Is it Mike or Michael?”).
  • Comment– say something about the name and cross-reference it in your head (“The name of the father in the Brady Bunch was Mike.”)
  • Employ — put the name to use–”It’s nice to meet you, Mike”–to drive it home.

name tag

8. Learn to Use Body Language to Your Advantage. Studies have shown that the right body language can help you appear more confident, connect with others, get your message across more effectively, and even improve your performance.

In the video below, Amy Joy Cuddy–an American social psychologist known for her research on nonverbal behavior– indicates that you can improve your life by improving your body language.

9. Learn to Read Other People. Being able to read other people accurately can help you in many different situations. Here are some examples:

  • Is the salesperson telling you the whole truth about the product he’s selling?
  • Is your boss being truthful when she explains why you didn’t get the promotion?
  • Is your teenager hiding something important from you?

Joe Navarro is an ex-FBI agent and supervisor who specializes in the area of nonverbal communication or body language. He has authored numerous books on this topic, including, What Every Body is Saying and Louder than Words. In this YouTube video, Navarro shares some of the basic displays of discomfort that let you know that someone is being deceitful.

facial expressions

10. Learn Effective Decision Making Skills. Decision-making is an essential life skill. After all, the decisions we make shape our lives. Fortunately, there are many decision-making models available to help guide you in making the right decisions.  These models include the following:

11. Learn Basic Time Management. Without learning basic time management skills you’ll never be able to achieve what you want. Basic time management skills include the following:

  • Learning to prioritize.
  • Getting organized.
  • Creating a schedule.
  • Overcoming procrastination.
  • Doing one thing at a time (concentration and focus).

time management

12. Learn Goal Setting. Your goals direct your behavior so that you can achieve what you want from life. If you don’t have goals, your life will lack direction. The acronym “SMART” has stuck around for a long time, because it works. Make your goals:

  • S – Specific
  • M -Measurable
  • A – Actionable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Time Bound

target

13. Learn How to Pick Produce. Fruits and vegetables are the mainstay of a healthy diet. For each fruit and vegetable that you eat on a regular basis you need to be able to tell when it’s fresh and ready to be eaten. The video below is a good introduction:

14. Learn How to Make Eggs at Least Two Ways. Every adult needs to be able to keep themselves fed, and–other than serving a bowl of cereal and pouring milk on it– there are few things that are easier to make than eggs.

Have you ever said, “I don’t even know how to boil and egg?” If so, here’s how:

15. Learn How to Roast a Chicken. Roasted chicken is a classic, and everyone should know how to do it. It’s healthy, delicious, complicated enough to impress dinner guests, and yet easy enough that even a kid should be able to make it.

roasted chicken

16. Learn How to Make a Hamburger. Hamburgers are another of those go-to meals that everyone should be able to make. The basis of a hamburger is the ground beef from which you make the “patties.” Although in preparing the patties you can add all sorts of things, salt and pepper will do.

hamburgers

17. Learn How to Roast Vegetables. Roasted vegetables is an easy, versatile side dish. The process of roasting makes vegetables crispy on the outside, and soft and warm on the inside. Best of all, roasting vegetables is simple. Here’s the process:

  • Wash the vegetables;
  • Chop them up;
  • Mix in a little olive oil, garlic and salt; and
  • Pop it in the oven.

roasted vegetables

18. Learn How to Clean Up After Yourself. Many people make the transition from being a teenager to a grownup without acquiring the skill set necessary to take the cleanliness of their own space seriously. Regular cleaning will not only create a sanitary place for you to live in, but it will also make you more efficient, calmer, and happier.

Basic cleaning skills include doing laundry, cleaning a house properly, keeping the house organized and uncluttered, and having a weekly and monthly cleaning routine.

2010-02-09 -- my mini mobile office - 1

19. Learn How to Sew On a Button. There’s nothing funny about a missing button when you have a job interview in fifteen minutes. Fortunately, the problem can be solved with no more than a needle and a thread. You’ll find instructions on how to sew on a button in the video below:

20. Learn How to Handle a Job Interview. Even if you’re one of those people who dreams of owning their own business, it’s very likely that at some point you’ll have to go out and get yourself a job. And in order to get a job, you need to know how to handle yourself in a job interview.  Here are some of the basics on how to do well during a job interview:

  • Arrive on time.
  • Research the potential employer beforehand.
  • Dress appropriately for the interview.
  • Be courteous to everyone.
  • Tailor your answers to what the potential employer needs.
  • Know how to answer the most common job interview questions.
  • Send a thank you note afterwards.

job interview

21. Learn How to Complain Effectively. Complaining for the sake of complaining is a waste of time and energy. However, if you complain to the right person, in the right way, complaining is a great way to get what you want. Knowing how to complain effectively is an important skill to have.

One technique you can use in order to complain effectively is using what Guy Winch, author of The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships and Enhance Self-Esteem–calls “The Complaint Sandwich”. The  technique is explained in the video below:

22. Learn How to Apologize. Whether intentionally or not, people hurt each other all the time. Here are some examples of how you may have hurt or offended someone in the past:

  • You forgot a loved one’s birthday,
  • You said something critical and uncalled for.
  • You were rude to someone.

When you hurt someone else, you’re going to have to apologize.In addition, you’re going to have to apologize the right way. Dr. Aaron Lazare–author of the book, “On Apologies”–has spent years studying acts of contrition.

He has found that, to be effective, most apologies need to contain the following elements:

  • Full acknowledgment of the offense.
  • An explanation.
  • Genuine expression of remorse.
  • Reparations for damage.

apology

23. Learn How to Jump-Start a Car. You never know when you’re going to need to jump start a dead car battery. It’s very simple, yet people either don’t know which cable goes where, or they tend to forget. It’s a good idea to buy a set of jumper cables and keep them in your car’s trunk.

The video below will teach you–or remind you–how  to jump start a car.

24. Learn How to Change a Tire. Changing a tire is another one of those car-related skills everyone should master. Tires go flat at the most inconvenient times. But, if you know how to change a tire, you can quickly solve the problem and be on your way. Most cars come with a basic a tire changing kit, which typically includes:

  • A jack
  • A lug wrench with a socket on one end and a pry bar on the other
  • A spare tire

The video below will show you how to change a tire.

25. Learn How to Parallel Park. There are many people out there who are so bad at parallel parking, that it’s painful to watch them attempt the feat.  If you’re going to be driving in the city, you need to know how to parallel park. The video below will show you how.

26. Learn How to Act if a Cop Pulls You Over. In all likelihood, sooner or later you’ll get pulled over by the police for speeding, running a red light, making an illegal U-Turn, and so on. When that happens, it’s important that you remain calm and respectful, and that you allow the cop to do his or her job.

The video below explains in detail what to do if you get pulled over by a cop.

27. Learn Touch Typing. Today, learning to type properly is almost as important as knowing how to write and read well. Although learning to touch type will require an initial time investment, it will save you enormous amounts of time in the long run. There are many techniques for learning to touch type; one of these is Typing Instructor Platinum.

touch typing

28. Learn How to Create a Budget. Some people just never learned how to spend money responsibly. That’s where a budget comes in. Creating a budget is about planning, prioritizing, and having the discipline to stick to your budget.

budget

29. Learn How to Protect Your Computer. Everyone who owns a computer needs to know how to protect it. The first step is installing a good antivirus program that will automatically update and scan for infections. You need to learn how to check your antivirus and see that it’s working properly. On a Windows computer, it’s also important that you use a separate program for finding and removing spyware.

protect your computer

30. Learn to Use Google Effectively. If you know how to use Google properly, you can find the answer to just about any question you might have. However,most people don’t know how to use Google to its full potential. Fortunately, many articles have been written on the topic. Read these articles and start doing Google searches like a pro:

 

Google

31. Learn How to Relax. Studies have shown that almost 90% of illnesses can be traced back to stress. People who don’t know how to release stress are prone to all of the following:

  • They have trouble sleeping;
  • They have weight problems;
  • They have trouble concentrating;
  • They are easily irritated.

Stress management techniques can include any of the following: reframing the situation, learning to live in the now, laughter yoga, repeating a mantra, creating rituals, having realistic expectations, and so on.

32. Learn How to Use a First Aid Kit. Almost everyone will need to use a first aid kit at some time. Make sure that when the time comes when you’ll need to use it, you know what to do. You should keep a first aid kit in your house, and another one in your car. Here’s a video that will show you how to use a first aid kit:

33. Learn the Heimlich Maneuver. If someone get’s a foreign object stuck in their throat or windpipe, they’ll begin to choke. The National Safety Council lists choking as America’s No. 4 cause of accidental death. In case someone is choking in front of you, apply the Heimlich Maneuver. The video below will show you how.

34. Learn to Dance. Every adult should be able to dance reasonably well. You don’t have to look like someone in a music video, but you should be able to blend in on the dance floor and not look too awkward.

35. Learn To Make Beautiful Sounds. By the time you reach adulthood you should know how to make beautiful sounds, whether it’s knowing how to sing, or how to play a musical instrument. The easiest thing to do regarding this skill is to learn how to improve your singing.

microphone

36. Learn to Create Something Beautiful With Your Hands. There are many beautiful things you can learn to do with your hands, including the following: drawing, creating mandalas, sculpting, knitting, doing woodwork, making pottery, or making jewelry.

drawing

37. Learn to Play One Card Game. Playing cards is one of those social skills everyone needs to have. If you don’t know which game to pick, go with bridge.  After all,  it’s what Warren Buffett plays.

38. Learn A Sport. Pick a sport, any sport, and learn how to practice it reasonably well. An adult needs to know how to keep themselves in reasonably good shape, and one of the best ways to achieve this is by practicing a sport.

tennis (2)

39. Learn How to Use a Hammer and a Drill. Everyone should know how to use a hammer and a drill. These videos will show you the basics:

drill

40. Learn How to Look Good in A Photograph. In the digital age it comes in handy to know how to look good in a photograph. It’s not necessarily the most attractive people who look best in photographs, but the ones who know what light to stand in, what angles to work, and how to relax in front of the lens.

Conclusion

In order to live your best life, you’ll need to have the 40 skills described above. Feel free to add any other skills adults should master in the comments below.

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lazyMany of us—myself included—were taught that in order to be productive and get things done you need to keep your nose to the grindstone.

That is, you have to work long hours, keep play to a minimum, and constantly push yourself to do more.

However, in many ways you can be more productive by doing the opposite of what you’ve been taught. In this post you’ll discover 12 counter-intuitive ways to be more productive.

1. Quit. If there’s a project that you’ve been working on for a while, and it’s not getting off the ground, ask yourself whether the best strategy is to quit and move on to something else. While it’s true that you’ll never achieve anything worthwhile if you don’t persevere, you need to reassess whether a time-consuming project which seems to be going nowhere deserves even more of your time and effort.

Marketing guru Seth Godin recommends that you learn to tell the difference between a dip and a cul-de-sac. Anything worth doing will take a while to master. That time during which you’re paying your dues in order to achieve a large reward is “the dip”. When you’re in “the dip” you should persevere.

However, when you’re not enjoying the process, and instead of advancing you seem to be going around in circles, you’re in a cul-de-sac. A cul-de-sac is a dead-end; once you realize you’re in one, you should quit. Then, you can move on to other, more productive endeavors.

2. Be Lazy. Lazy people do the following:

  • They ask themselves whether a task really needs to get done.
  • They delegate instead of trying to do everything themselves.
  • They look for the shortest route to get things done.
  • They look for ways to maximize the return on their effort.

Being lazy means that you’ll apply more thought to a project instead of simply leaping into action. It means getting more of the right things done, with the least amount of effort.

3. Work Surrounded by Small Doses of Distractions. Although most people think that silence and having zero distractions will make them more productive, research shows that you’re most productive when you’re surrounded by small doses of distractions. That is, seek to replicate the ambiance you would find at a coffeehouse.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had participants brainstorm ideas for new products while they were exposed to varying levels of background noise. They compared the results at three different levels:

  • 50 decibels
  • 70 decibels
  • 85 decibels

Their results found that the best performance occurred at 70 decibels, a level of ambient noise typical of a bustling coffee shop or a television playing in a living room. Fifty decibels was too quiet, and 85 decibels was too noisy. If you can’t get out of the office and go to a coffee house, use Coffitivity for free coffee house sounds.

4. Take Regular Breaks. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to shift between expending and recovering energy. Think of the following scenario:

  • You’re sitting at your desk feeling refreshed and at your peak point of productivity. You’re being effective and efficient, and you’re getting lots done.
  • However, after a while you hit a point at which your productivity begins to decline. You start to feel sluggish and your mind wanders. That is, you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns.
  • If you continue working after this point, you’ll continue to get things done. However, you’ll be working so inefficiently that it will take you an hour to do the same amount of work that you can get done in half an hour when your energy levels are high.
  • Therefore, it’s a much better strategy to stop working when you hit the point of diminishing returns and take a break in order to recharge your batteries.
  • After your break you’ll be back at your peak performance rate of productivity and you’ll be working optimally once again.

5. Schedule the Fun First. “The Now Habit” by Dr. Neil Fiore is a procrastination classic. In his book, Fiore explains that one of the reasons why we procrastinate is out of fear that once we start working there will be no time left over for play.

Although it seems paradoxical, in order to lessen the urge to procrastinate we need guilt-free play. When you know that work will not deprive you of enjoying the good things in life, it will be easier for you to get to work on large projects. Fiore explains that you can leverage the power of play to help you conquer procrastination, and be more productive, by planning recreation into your weekly schedule.

In addition, Fiore argues that when you’re planning your week, instead of starting off by filling it with the work you want to do, you start by scheduling fixed commitments—such as sleep and commuting time–, and then you schedule play. Furthermore, he explains that you should schedule at least one hour of play and relaxation a day, and at least one entire day of play and relaxation a week.

6. Do it Tomorrow. As work comes in throughout the day, many people just keep adding tasks to that day’s to-do list. People who do this find that their daily to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer. Mark Foster, author of “Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management”, argues that this is the wrong approach to follow if you want to be more productive.

Instead, Foster explains that your to-do list for the day should be a closed list. That is, once you’ve created your to-do list for the day, you don’t add anything new to it. If something new comes in during the day, unless it must be done immediately or there will be a significant downside, leave it for another day. In other words, be more productive by doing it tomorrow.

7. Workout. You may think that taking time off from work in order to hit the gym makes you less productive since you’ll be spending less time working. However, this view is entirely wrong. In fact, Richard Branson—a man who has started over 400 companies–, has said in numerous interviews that working out is his number one productivity secret.

In one interview, Branson told Tim Ferris—author of “The 4-Hour Workweek”—that working out gives him at least four additional hours of productive time every day.

8. Keep a Diary or Journal. A journal is a great place to collect your thoughts and declutter your mind. A decluttered mind can focus on a task much more easily than a mind that is filled with clutter –anger about the past, anxiety about the future, and so on. Journaling is an effective way to clear out your head and feel more centered, and making time to journal will make you more productive.

In addition, keeping a journal can increase your productivity by helping you to identify what works and what doesn’t. Ram Shriram–the angel investor and founding Google board member—argues that the best way to improve personal performance is to track it in a daily diary. The journal, or diary, becomes a manual which will help you to learn from the past so that you can do better in the future.

9. Take a Nap. What would happen if your supervisor caught you napping? They would probably let you know, in no uncertain terms, that you’re not being paid to sleep. However, research now shows that taking a nap makes you more productive.

However, there are some guidelines that should be followed for effective napping. Here they are:

  • Find a quiet and dark place.
  • Keep it short; a nap should not last longer than twenty minutes. If you sleep longer than that you’ll probably get sleep inertia and have trouble waking up.
  • Nap at a regular time; having a regular napping time will help your body to fall asleep faster and wake up easier.

10. Leave It Unfinished. When people work on an important task, they have a tendency to continue working on it until they find a logical point at which to stop. However, Adam Grant, an organizational psychology professor at the Wharton School, recommends that you leave complex tasks unfinished.

Grant explains that if you start working on a complex task and then just stop and move on to something else, the back of your mind will continue to work on the task. Then, when you get back to it later on, you’re much more likely to be able to come up with a solution.

11. Use Every Minute. You may think that you need to have a large chunk of time available in order to work on an important task. However, you’ll be more productive if you use the small odds and ends of time that you find here and there throughout the day in order to get things done.

If you find yourself with a few extra minutes—for instance, you’re early to an appointment, you’re waiting for a meeting to start but your boss is running late, and so on—, you may be tempted to tell yourself that there’s not much you can get done in those few extra minutes, and slack off.

However, unless you’re taking a break in order to recharge your batteries, you should make every minute count. There’s a difference between taking a break, and being unproductive. When you have a few extra minutes that you weren’t counting on, challenge yourself to see how many words of your novel you can write during that time, or do as much as you can to move an important task along.

12. Do Nothing. One of the enemies of productivity is our tendency to simulate productivity by working on small, mindless tasks. As I already explained in a previous post, one way to avoid this productivity trap is by doing the following:

  • Choose a priority task which you’re going to work on.
  • Tell yourself that the alternative to working on that task is to do nothing: you either work on the important task, or you just sit there.

This approach is very likely to ensure that you’ll get to work on the important task.

In addition, in one study, two groups of people were asked to complete a set of cognitive tasks. One group was given the option of opting out of working on the tasks, while the other group was not. All of the participants were offered payment for completing the tasks, making the option of opting out unappealing.

The group that was given the option of opting out worked longer on the tasks, and performed better, than the group that was not given the option of opting out.

Researchers concluded that by choosing to work on a task over doing nothing, you’re giving the task value. Also, you’re reinforcing that it must be a good task for you to take on — so you put more work into it. Therefore, be more productive by considering doing nothing.

Conclusion

Being more productive will help you to live a better life. Apply the twelve counter-intuitive ways to be more productive explained above, and increase your productivity right away.

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save timeOne of the most common excuses that people give for not working toward the achievement of their life goals is that they don’t have the time. However, lack of time is just that: an excuse.

In this post you’ll discover 30 time-saving hacks, strategies, and techniques that will allow you to make the time to work on your life goals. The time-saving hacks, strategies, and techniques are divided into the following three sections:

  • Ten Ways to Save Time in the Morning
  • Ten Ways to Save Time at Work
  • Ten Ways to Save Time at Home

Let’s get started with how to save time in the morning.

Ten Ways to Save Time in the Morning

1. Start Getting Ready the Night Before. The night before, write your to-do list. In addition, pack your bag with your wallet, laptop, cell phone, and anything else you’ll need, and set it by the door. Make sure that your keys and anything else that you need to take with you the next day are also by the door. Lastly, pick out the outfit you’ll be wearing.

2. Go to sleep on time. Have a set time at which you go to sleep each night and stick to it. If you go to sleep late you’ll be tired when your alarm rings and you’ll be tempted to hit the snooze button, maybe more than once. Each time you hit the snooze button, you’re wasting time.

3. Transition into a wakeful state quickly. Being in a groggy state when you wake up is not conducive to getting ready quickly and efficiently. Two things you can do to wake up quickly is to open the curtains in order to get sunlight first thing in the morning, and to drink a glass of water shortly after you wake up in order to jump-start your metabolism.

4. Put together a morning playlist and use it as a timer. Timing yourself as you get ready in the morning is a great way to make sure that you’re ready on time. And what better way to time yourself than by making a playlist of songs that you like and using the songs as a timer? You can try the following:

  • Make breakfast and serve yourself some coffee during the first song.
  • Eat your breakfast during the second and third songs.
  • Brush your teeth and brush your hair during the fourth song.
  • Shower during the fifth song.
  • Get dressed during the sixth song.
  • Apply make-up during the seventh song.

5. Streamline your morning maintenance routine. You don’t need to spend lots of time getting ready in the morning in order to feel and look great. There are lots of ways to streamline your morning routine. For example, instead of applying lip liner and several layers of lipstick, just dab on some lip-gloss. In addition, use a spray lotion instead of a cream one—it goes on faster.

6. Rethink your morning routine. Identify where you’re wasting time in the morning. Do you stand in line for 15 minutes at Starbucks? Then that’s fifteen minutes that you could save by getting a coffee maker with a timer and setting it to start brewing your coffee a few minutes before your alarm goes off in the morning.

7. Have a fast nutritious breakfast available. Skipping breakfast in order to save time is a bad idea. However, you can save time by preparing a quick breakfast. As an example, a breakfast of Greek yogurt, granola, and fruit is quick and easy to prepare, it tastes great, and it’s good for you. Another strategy is to cook oatmeal in a slow cooker overnight so that it’s ready by the time you get up.

8. Make lunch the night before. When you’re cooking your dinner, double the recipe. Then, put one batch in a plastic container, put it in the fridge, and your lunch for the next day is ready.

9. Resist the temptation to go online. Resist the temptation to check your email or go on social media in the mornings. Responding to one email can easily turn into two or three, and then you’ve spent twenty minutes online instead of getting ready to head out the door.

10. Set a strict time to leave the house. Put Parkinson’s Law to good use by having a strict time to leave the house. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Applied to your mornings, it means that the time that it takes you to get ready each morning will expand unless you set a firm limit on it.

Ten Ways to Save Time at Work

11. Re-think your commute time. Time spent commuting can be a huge time-waster. Here are some ideas that will help you to rethink your commute time:

  • Shorten your commute time by moving closer to work.
  • Shorten your commute time by avoiding high traffic times.
  • Use public transportation so that you can get some work done during your commute.

12. Do the most important thing first. Establish priorities and make sure that you know what the most important task for each day is. Then, work on that task before you do anything else. That way, you’ll ensure that the most important things get done each day instead of wasting your time on the unessential.

13. Try to beat the clock. Set a clear deadline for everything that you need to get done, and do the best that you can to meet those deadlines. Leaving the time that you’re going to devote to accomplishing any given task open-ended is almost guaranteed to make the task drag on and on.

14. Have a set clock-out time. Just as in the mornings there’s a set time by which you need to leave your house in order to get to work on time, you need to establish a set time at which you’re going to stop working and go home. You’ll be more productive if you know that your time at work each day is limited.

15. Work in intense 20-minute bursts. Decide what you’re going to work on, set a timer for twenty minutes, and focus all of your attention on that task until the twenty minutes are up. During those twenty minutes don’t work on anything else and don’t allow yourself to be interrupted.

16. Take breaks. Taking breaks is a counter intuitive way to save time. Although you may think that by taking breaks you’re wasting time, you’re actually saving time since you’ll be recharging your batteries, reducing stress, and preventing exhaustion.

17. Focus on what you’re good at. Stop trying to do everything. Instead, identify what you’re strengths are and leave the rest to other people. Start delegating and outsourcing.

18. Batch your activities. By engaging in “batch processing,” or lining up repetitious tasks at certain times, you can save lots of time. For example, if you need to call people, do it in one batch instead of spreading the calls throughout the day.

19. Create an efficient system for dealing with email. Email can be a huge time suck, and you’ll be saving lots of time by creating a system for dealing with email quickly and efficiently. Here are three ideas:

  • Check email only twice a day.
  • Limit email sessions to 25 minutes.
  • Decide right away what to do with each email instead of simply letting emails linger in your inbox indefinitely.

20. Improve your typing skills. Most people spend a large chunk of their day writing reports and other documents. By improving your typing skills, and by learning keyboard shortcuts, you could potentially save enormous amounts of time. While re-learning touch-typing requires a time investment, it’s an investment that will reap large rewards in time saved.

Ten Ways to Save Time at Home

21. Consolidate your errands. Make a list of all the errands that you need to get done each week and then save one day a week to run errands. This strategy is much more efficient than leaving your house every day to run one or two errands at a time. In addition, try to run your errands on off-hours so that you can beat the crowds.

22. Contain the clutter. When your home is cluttered you’ll waste valuable time cleaning and giving maintenance to unnecessary items. In addition, clutter leads to disorganization which is another time killer. By cutting down to the essentials you’ll be saving time.

23. Clean every day. You can save time on your cleaning by doing a little cleaning every day. Do small things such as the following: wipe down the sink and bathroom counter as soon as you’re done using it; tidy up each room as you’re about to leave it; and sweep for a few minutes each day.

24. Clean less by preventing dirt from getting in. Most of the dirt in your house gets carried in on the soles of your shoes. Prevent that dirt from getting into your house in the first place by placing a mat at the entrance of your home. You can even start taking your shoes off as soon as you walk into your home.

25. Establish one or two TV-free nights a week. Let’s face it, cutting out TV watching entirely is something that most people are not willing to do. However, cutting out TV watching for one or two days a week is doable, and it’s a great way to free up time which you can use for more important things. In addition, use TiVo to record your favorite TV shows and fast forward through the commercials.

26. Use technology to save time. Using the right technology can help you save loads of time. As an illustration, there’s a device called the Ikan Wireless Scanner . It sits on your kitchen counter-top and when you notice that you’re almost out of a food item—such as cereal or milk– you scan the barcode on that item. The item then appears on your online grocery list. When you’re ready to buy groceries you press “send” and everything on your list is delivered to your doorstep.

27. Design an efficient kitchen. Save time in the kitchen by keeping items stored in a way which makes the most sense. Here are some examples:

  • Identify the utensils which you use most often and keep them in a jar next to the stove.
  • Pots and pans should also be near the stove.
  • Keep everything that you need to make coffee—coffee maker, coffee beans, coffee mugs, and so on—in the same area.
  • Keep strainers near the sink, keep knives and cutting boards near each other, and so on.

28. Learn cooking hacks. You can cut down on your kitchen time by learning some good cooking hacks. For example, you can save lots of time by learning the proper way to chop an onion. In addition, add baking soda or vinegar to water when boiling eggs for easier shell removal.

29. Streamline your cleaning. Fill a bucket with everything that you need for cleaning–cleaning sprays, a sponge, a toothbrush, a squeegee, a scrub brush, cloth towels, and so on. As you’re cleaning, carry the bucket from room to room. By not having to go back and forth looking for cleaning supplies you’ll be saving time.

30. Have a place for everything. Think of the well-known adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place”. By assigning a place for everything in your home, and making sure that everything is put back in its proper place after each use, you’ll be able to avoid losing time searching for items.

Conclusion

Start applying the 30 time-saving ideas explained above right away. Then, take the time that you save and use it to live your best life by getting to work on your life goals.

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negativity biasNegativity bias is the name given by psychologists to the human tendency to be much more likely to be influenced by and to recall negative experiences, instead of neutral or positive experiences. It was first documented by psychologists Roy F. Baumister, Ellen Bratslavsky, Kathleen Vohs, and Catrin Finkenauer in an article titled Bad is Stronger than Good”.

There are many ways in which the negativity bias manifests itself. Here are some examples:

  • We remember insults more than we remember praise.
  • Negative experiences tend to be more memorable than positive ones.
  • The brain has a tendency to be vigilant and wary.
  • For positive experiences to resonate, they have to occur much more frequently than negative ones.
  • The brain reacts more strongly to negative stimuli than to positive stimuli. Studies show that there’s a greater surge in electrical activity in the brain when we see a picture of something negative—like a dead cat—than we see a picture of something positive—like a great meal.
  • If something good and something bad happen to you on the same day, you’ll react more strongly to the bad than to the good (even if both events are otherwise comparable).
  • When your mind wanders it’s more likely to recall something that made you angry or upset, instead of recalling something that made you happy and filled you with pride.

Human beings developed a negativity bias—that is, they evolved to notice and respond more forcibly to the negative—since that helped our ancestors to stay alive. Thousands and thousands of years ago it was more important to escape negative situations than it was to approach opportunity. Think of the following:

  • Your caveman ancestor notices a berry bush up ahead.
  • The bush rustles slightly. Was it just the wind? Or was it a hungry tiger crouching behind the bush?
  • Your ancestor wouldn’t even have stopped to analyze the situation. As soon as he noticed the slight rustle he would have fled for his life.

After all, being killed by a tiger is final, while missing out on the opportunity to eat berries isn’t. By assuming the worst from the rustling in the bush and running away, your ancestor made sure to survive so that he could pass on his genes. He could eat berries another day.

In our modern world, having a negativity bias is no longer necessary for our survival. However, our brains are still wired to constantly be on the lookout for tigers; that is, they’re wired for negativity.

Left unchecked, the negativity bias can become a serious impediment to our happiness and quality of life. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with the negativity bias. Below you’ll discover ten strategies for dealing with the negativity bias, so that you can immediately start improving your quality of life.

One. Simply recognizing that a problem exists is a good step toward solving it. Knowing that you have a negativity bias will help you to recognize when you’re dwelling on the negative aspects of a situation due to this bias. If that’s the case, just tell yourself:

“There’s no tiger hiding behind the bush. I don’t need to think about this in order to stay safe.”

Two. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom”. He argues that our brains are like Velcro for negative experiences, and like Teflon for positive ones.

Hanson explains that negative events and experiences get quickly stored in memory. In contrast, positive events and experiences need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from your short-term to your long-term memory.

Therefore, when something positive happens to you, you should make it a point to take a moment to savor the experience. Replay it in your mind a few times so that the memory of the positive experience gets archived in your long-term memory. In addition, Hansen recommends that you absorb the positive experience like gentle rain falling on your skin.

Three. Keep a ratio of 5 to 1 in your dealings with others. Because of the negativity bias, other people will be more affected by the negative things you say or do to them than the positive ones. If you scold your child, criticize an employee, or argue with your spouse, you need to say or do five positive things to maintain a healthy relationship with them.

Four. Scatter simple pleasures throughout your day. Although most people tend to hold out for the big events—such as a vacation, a birthday bash, or a large purchase—large infrequent events will not be able to balance out your brain’s tilt toward negativity.

A better strategy is to schedule lots of simple pleasures throughout your day. For example, have a cup of flavored coffee out in the balcony each morning; take fifteen minutes a day to read a trashy novel you find entertaining; buy fresh flowers for your desk; and spend some time in a green area each day.

These small doses of positivity throughout the day will help your brain counteract its natural negativity.

Five. Gretchen Rubin—owner of “The Happiness Project”–recommends that you create an “area of refuge” in your brain. That is, have a list of positive things ready—such as good memories, inspiring quotes, or lines from poems—that you can think of whenever you find your mind wandering to a negative memory.

This is something that I do. I’ve memorized several poems that I love, and whenever I catch myself thinking about something negative from the past, I start to recite one of the poems in my head. This immediately takes my focus off the negative, and results in an instantaneous mood boost.

Six. Whenever something negative happens to you—for example, someone says something mean to you—visualize a drop of black ink falling into a large container of clear water. Although at first the ink is very black, it quickly mixes with the rest of the water until it’s gone, and all you can see is the clear water again.

Seven. Keep a gratitude journal. Taking a few minutes each night to think about and write down all of the good things that happened to you throughout the day will help keep your brain attuned to all of the good things in your life. By focusing on the good you’ll gradually be rewiring your brain for happiness.

Eight. Keep a “kudos file”. Every time that you get an email from someone thanking you for something that you did, or from your boss praising you for a job well done, print it out and place it in your kudos file. Keep anything that testifies how talented and wonderful you are in your file.

Then, when negative thoughts are keeping you down, take out your trusty kudos file so that you can be reminded of all the good that you do.

Nine. Rick Hanson—who has already been mentioned in this post—recommends that you link the negative and the positive. You do this by holding both a positive and a negative emotion in your awareness, while keeping the positive emotion more prominent.

For example, feel joy as you participate in an activity which is fun for you, while feeling some apprehension in the background over a presentation you have to give at work. Holding both a positive and a negative emotion at once will help remind you that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Ten. Tony Schwartz, chief executive officer of The Energy Project, recommends overcoming the negativity bias by practicing realistic optimism. This means telling yourself the most hopeful and empowering story possible about any given circumstance without denying or minimizing the facts.

Conclusion

The negativity bias is the penchant that we all have for detecting and dwelling on the negative. It’s a remnant from our caveman days when danger lurked behind every corner. Live your best life by overcoming the negativity bias and rewiring your brain to focus more on the good instead of the bad.

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3d Cover -My Financial Bucket List WorkbookAlthough it’s true that money can’t buy happiness, you need money–and you need to have your financial life in order–to be able to achieve your bucket list. Use “My Financial Bucket List Workbook” to create a financial bucket list that will allow you to achieve every item on your bucket list.

This workbook–which is a digital product–is divided into the following main areas:

  • Initial Evaluation
  • The Mental Money Game
  • Financial Literacy
  • Spending – Expenses
  • Income
  • Savings
  • Debt
  • Purchasing Big Ticket Items
  • Investing
  • Taking Care of Your Family
  • Tax Management
  • Insurance
  • Retirement Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Philanthropy
  • Short-term, Mid-term, and Long-term Goals

“My Financial Bucket List Workbook” has ideas and prompts to help you create a list of goals–or bucket list items–that will address every aspect of your personal finances:

  • Creating a Financial Philosophy
  • Eliminating the Mental Barriers to Wealth
  • Getting Control Over Your Finances
  • Increasing Your Income
  • Applying Conscious Spending
  • Increasing Your Net Worth
  • Using Credit Cards Wisely
  • Eliminating Debt
  • Reducing Your Tax Burden
  • Protecting Your Assets
  • Becoming a Savvy Investor
  • Taking Care of Your Loved Ones
  • Preparing for Retirement
  • Leaving Your Affairs in Order When You Pass Away
  • Giving Back to Your Community
  • Financing Your Bucket List

“My Financial Bucket List Workbook” is a 105-Page PDF with over 11,500 words. It contains 42 worksheets, 50 images, and over 500 bucket list ideas to get your ideas flowing so that you can create a fantastic Financial Bucket List.

Here’s a sample page:

My Financial Bucket List Workbook Sample

“My Financial Bucket List Workbook” is a digital product, which means you’ll receive a download link immediately upon purchase (nothing will be shipped to you). It costs only $9.95. Buy it now!

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things to do to be happierHappiness is less elusive than a lot of people seem to think. Researchers and positive psychologists have discovered that there are concrete steps you can take in order to be happier. Below you’ll find 17 things you can do to be happier now.

1. Get more sleep. A study done at the University of Michigan found that getting just a little more sleep had a greater effect on your daily happiness than a large increase in income. Be happier in 2012 by resolving to discover the amount of sleep which your body needs, and then taking the necessary steps to make sure that you get it.

2. Break large goals down into small, manageable steps. Harvard positive psychologist Shawn Achor, author of “The Happiness Advantage”, explains that research shows that when we feel that we’re in control of a situation, we’re happier. When a task is very large, we lose the feeling of control and we feel overwhelmed. This triggers fear and we feel stressed and uncomfortable.

You can regain control by breaking the task down into small, manageable steps. Achor recommends that you set large goals, and then you select a small area of that goal to conquer; he calls this small area of focus your “Zorro Circle”.

3. Keep a happiness journal. Something else that Achor recommends is that you keep a happiness journal.  Do Follow these steps:

  • Every day, journal for five minutes about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours.
  • Make it as detailed as you can.

Because your brain is not very adept at telling the difference between something that you’re visualizing and something that you’re experiencing, when you relive a positive experience by journaling about it, you get a positive double whammy from that experience.

In addition, when your mind thinks that lots of good things are happening to you, it has a tendency to start scanning your environment for the positive, instead of looking for the negative. Since we see what we look for, this means that you’ll begin to notice more of the good things that are going on around you. And when your attention is placed on the things that are going well in your life, you feel happier.

4. Overcome perfectionism.  A lot of people are caught in what Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., calls “The Myth of Perfection”. These people are obsessed with beauty, youth, wealth, success, and having it all. Ben-Shahar adds that constantly striving for perfection practically guarantees that you’ll be unhappy. After all, perfection is an impossible standard to meet. He explains that in order to be happy you need to do the following:

  • Start setting realistic goals;
  • See mistakes as an opportunity for improvement;
  • Accept that failure is a part of life; and
  • Focus on the journey more than on the outcome.

5. Let go of the “If . . . Then” Model.  Srikumar S. Rao, Ph.D., author of “Happiness at Work” explains that a lot of people have an “if – then” model when it comes to happiness. That is, they make their happiness conditional on something else happening. Here are some examples:

  • If I lose weight, then I’ll be happy.
  • If I start making more money, then I’ll be happy.
  • If I get married, then I’ll be happy.

Dr. Rao explains that there‘s nothing that you have to get in order to be happy. Happiness is something that’s innately within you; it’s not something that needs to be acquired or achieved. He adds that it’s a good idea to set goals, because they give direction to your life. However, you shouldn’t make your happiness contingent on achieving those goals. Allow yourself to be happy now, as you strive to achieve your goals.

6. Train your mind for happiness. The Dalai Lama believes that the very purpose of life is to seek happiness. He explains that the way to be happy is to deliberately select and focus on positive mental states which lead to happiness—such as love, compassion, patience, and generosity– and to challenge  negative mental states which lead to suffering—such as resentment, hatred, greed, and envy.

In addition, he indicates that cultivating positive mental states requires a systematic training of the mind. Inner discipline will allow you to be constantly aware of your thoughts, and to consciously make the decision of replacing negative mental states with positive ones; this, in turn, results in feelings of happiness and joy.

The Dalai Lama teaches that you can train your mind to return to a place of inner peace, regardless of what may be going on around you in the external world.

7. Do work that allows you to achieve a state of flow. You achieve the state of flow when all of your attention is engrossed in the activity that you’re carrying out, so that you have no attention left over to think about yourself.

That is, your ego—or your mental chatter—quiets down, and you’re no longer thinking about how you were slighted by someone the day before, or worrying about how your work will be received in the future. All of your attention is in the present moment, and you’ve become one with the activity that you’re performing. When you achieve this, your work becomes a spiritual practice.

8. Practice random acts of kindness. Studies show that helping and being kind to others has a strong positive impact on a person’s happiness.  When you’re kind to others, your brain releases dopamine, which is the feel-good hormone.

In addition, helping others makes us feel capable and strengthens our feeling of connection with others, both of which are happiness boosters. Take the challenge posed by Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the leaders in the field of positive psychology and the author of “The How of Happiness”, to perform five acts of kindness one day a week.

9. Increase Your Daily Pleasures. One of the tools that’s used by proponents of “Positive Psychology” to measure happiness is the Day-Reconstruction Method. To apply this method, detail everything that you do on a particular day, and rate how you felt at the time.

By analyzing your life in this way you can make changes to tip joy in your favor. David Schkade, from the University of California San Diego, explains that if you transfer even an hour of your day from activities that you dislike, to activities that you enjoy, this will significantly improve your overall level of happiness.

10. Remember the mind-body connection. In addition to getting adequate sleep, you need to exercise on a regular basis and eat a healthy diet. These positive habits will lead to both physical and mental health.

11. Simplify. Dr. Ben-Shahar—who has already been mentioned in this post—explains that one of the biggest causes of unhappiness is time poverty. We take on too much, and we’re constantly running around trying to get everything done. This inhibits our ability to derive happiness from any of the activities that we participate in. Therefore, one of the best ways to increase your happiness is to simplify.

Identify the things that are most important to you, focus on those, and prune out the rest. When you simplify you can begin to experience time affluence. Having time affluence will make you happier.

12. Laugh more. Over the past several years countless studies have been conducted that show the positive effects that laughing has on one’s physical and mental health. Laughter decreases stress hormones in the body–such as cortisol and adrenaline–, and it releases hormones and chemicals that have positive effects on our system. Joyful laughter is the fastest way to create a positive state of mind.

13. Act in a way that will lead to happiness.  Henepola Gunaratana–a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk–explains in his book “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness” that if we look carefully at our lives, we will realize that the choices we make lead to either happiness or unhappiness. Everything we think, say, or do is a cause, which will inevitably lead to some effect. Once we understand this, the following will happen:

  •  We will naturally want to think, say, and do things which will lead to positive results.
  • At the same time, we will avoid having thoughts, saying things, and doing things that will lead to negative results.

That is, happiness requires the following:

  •  That we remain mindful of what we are thinking, saying, and doing.
  • That we continuously ask ourselves if the choice which we’re about to make is likely to lead to positive or negative results.
  • That we make those choices which will lead to a happier life.

14. Practice gratitude. Robert Emmons, author of “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”, has conducted studies that show that when people regularly engage in the systematic cultivation of gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable benefits: psychological, physical, and interpersonal.

Giving thanks shifts your focus from what is lacking in your life, to the abundance that is already present. In addition, it makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress. An easy way to start practicing more gratitude in your life is to make a list each day of five things that you’re grateful for.

15. Forgive. Positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky explains in “The How of Happiness” that 50 percent of individual differences in happiness are governed by genes, 10 percent by life circumstances, and the remaining 40 percent by what we do and how we think.

That is, 40 percent of our happiness is determined by our intentional activities and strategies. She adds that one of the happiness enhancing strategies which you should adopt is to forgive; let go of anger and resentment toward those whom you feel have wronged you.

16. Create a dream list. In “How We Choose to Be Happy”, Rick Foster and Greg Hicks present the nine choices that extremely happy people make. One of these choices is centrality, which means that they make central to their lives that which makes them happy.  Foster and Hicks recommend that you create a dream list, and that you make it the driving force in your life. To be happier, become devoted to doing what makes you happy.

17. Take responsibility for your life. According to Foster and Hicks, another of the choices that happy people make is to be accountable—or to take responsibility—for their lives. They explain that happy people don’t play the victim, and they don’t waste their time and energy blaming others. When something goes wrong, people who are happy look for ways in which they can improve the situation, and then they take the best action that they can, given the set of circumstances.

Start doing the 17 things above and live your best life by being happier now.

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Related Posts:

  1. Five Ways to Buy Happiness
  2. A Happiness Lesson From Frasier Crane
  3. 23 Ways to Increase Your Happiness
  4. How to Be Happy (Poster)

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