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Charlotte Amalie
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HomeNewsArchivesFebruary 2009 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

February 2009 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

Feb. 20, 2009 – As we huddle near the fire for the last weeks of winter (he said optimistically), it's a good time for reading, thinking, and looking ahead to projects we'll be launching in the spring. Here are some items that may inspire you (and also news of two London workshops):
1: Why you should be caught napping
I've been a big fan of napping for a long time, and now some new research underlines how good naps are. One German study showed that even a few minutes' nap can trigger active memory processes, and a Harvard study has shown that even anticipating a nap can lower blood pressure.
There are three types of naps that are especially useful:
* the 20-minute catnap – this increases alertness, improves mood and helps motor skills
* the 45-minute nap – this will include some REM sleep (and dreams) and will also help with creative thinking
* the 90-minute nap – this is for times when you have been sleep-deprived at night for some reason. Of course, you shouldn't take this one too close to your bedtime.
Reporting in the Guardian, writer Jennifer Ackerman reports that if you are an early-riser type ("lark") the best time for your nap is around 1.30 p.m. If you're an "owl," the best time for your nap is 2:30 pm or 3 p.m.
Action: If you feel tired during the day, try at least a mini-nap and notice how it ups your energy.
2: Have you tried affirmations and they didn't work?
Maybe you've tried affirmations – statements like, "I get things done efficiently and effectively every day," or "I choose to eat only healthy food." Many people find they don't really work. I've developed a two-version system that is more effective. Step one: State the affirmation using "you" or your name instead of "I." So the statement would be "You get things done…" or "Jurgen gets things done…" And while you do this, you visualize yourself getting things done, as though you were watching a movie of those actions on a screen. Then you use the "I" form, and this time you imagine yourself doing those things, seen through your own eyes. In other words, first in the dissociated state, then the associated state.
Action: Pick one thing you'd like to do differently and every day for three weeks; do the affirmations in the two steps above. I'd really appreciate it if you let me know how it works for you, via e-mail to J4London@aol.com.
Two London Workshops: On Saturday, March 28, I will be offering two half-day workshops in central London. One is "Writing Where the Money Is." If you'd like to find out how to make money with your non-fiction writing, this is the workshop for you. You'll learn about how to sell non-fiction books with only a proposal, and how to make money writing articles, press releases and online. It's a practical, action-packed session. The other one is "Reclaim Your Time!" and it will give you practical right-brain methods for overcoming procrastination, handling deadlines and finding time to do the things that matter most to you (instead of just what you should do). Each workshop is only £49 +VAT. That includes a full set of handout materials and access to me via e-mail for any follow-up questions for 90 days after the workshop. There's a discount for signing up for both and also an early-bird discount. For more information and a sign-up form, please e-mail BstormUK@aol.com with the subject line, "workshop information."
3: Going the extra mile
Careerbuilder.com approached Sally Hogshead about possibly doing a speaking tour for them. Here's how she responded, as she described it in a recent interview: "I could simply have responded in an e-mail, as most other applicants did. But to sell them on my personal brand (Radical ideas and passionate action, keenly executed.) I had to clearly articulate why I could do this better than anyone else. …I created the vision for an entire program, which I called Radical Career Building. I showed how my brand could perfectly combine with their brand. I outlined a marketing plan, potential partners and even a logo design. Within a week, I got the phone call that I'd be going on tour in a few weeks. I'd sold them with my extra thought and effort."
It's a great example of going the extra mile – something that will get more and more important in today's economy.
Action: What's one project in which you could go the extra mile? What would that look like? Will you commit to doing it?
4: What you can learn from a software developer
Essayist and programmer Paul Graham wrote an essay called "six principles for making new things," in which he revealed his process. He says he likes to:
(a) find simple solutions to
(b) overlooked problems
(c) that actually need to be solved, and
(d) deliver them as informally as possible,
(e) starting with a very crude version 1, then
(f) iterating rapidly [in other words, using feedback to adjust and tweak, then releasing it again, getting more feedback, and repeating the cycle until the product or service as good as you hoped it would be]
Action: What are you doing that you could do better by applying this model? It could be a work project, or even some aspect of personal development. Most of us could benefit by paying special attention to steps (e) and (f) – not waiting until we have the perfect solution – start with a crappy one and then "mistake our way" to a good one!
5: A simple tip to improve your to-do list
Here's a tip I picked up on the very useful Lifehacker Web site: when you write out your to-do list, be very specific, especially with tasks you are tempted to avoid or that you've been carrying over from day to day. For instance, if you've been avoiding a task you're calling "Make dental appointment," change that to, "10 a.m. – Call dentist for appointment next Weds." – (and the phone number).
Action: Is there a task that's been lurking on our list too long? Change it to something very specific.
6: In place of the usual quote, a suggestion:
Usually, I end the bulletin with a quote, but this time I wanted to do something different. Last month, I helped organize a memorial to a dear friend, Chris Wicking, who died of a heart attack a couple of months ago. If you're a fan of horror films, you might recognize his name – he wrote some of the top horror films of the Hammer Horror era (although not just for Hammer). Over a hundred people turned out, and it was wonderful to see how many lives he'd touched. My only regret was that we hadn't organized a celebration of his life before he died. He was only 65 and had been in good health, but we never know when our time is up. So this time I want to close with a suggestion: it doesn't have to be party, but is there something you might want to do now to let someone who has touched your life know how much you appreciate them? A card, a bottle of wine with a note attached, or – hey, you're creative, you'll know what to do.
Until next time,
PS: If you haven't checked my blog since the last e-bulletin, you've missed posts on making yourself memorable, the essence of creativity, what you may regret not doing, how to be innovative even if you're shy, new hope for the multi-talented, designing the future, and much more. Go have a look now; it's at www.timetowrite.blogs.com. And feel free to leave a comment on any posts that spark a reaction or thought.
If you want to a free course (eight mini-lessons, one per week) on overcoming procrastination, just sign up at www.tameyourinnercritic.com. You'll also find a wealt
h 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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