Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths: Five Jiu-Jitsu Principles that can benefit an Entrepreneur

By Andrew Filev

For more than five years I’ve been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’d say it’s not just a self-defense system, but a whole art that is based on the concept that even a smaller, weaker person can defeat a stronger opponent if he uses the right technique. For me, Jiu-Jitsu is much more than physical training; it’s a philosophy. It teaches you things that can be applied not only on the mat but in your personal and professional life as well. Here are just a few of the lessons it can teach you in business:

1. The size is irrelevant if you master the technique

‘If size mattered, the elephant would be the king of the jungle,’ Rickson Gracie, black belt in JJ and heir of BJJ founders, justly noted. Likewise, in business, nimble start-ups manage to disrupt markets dominated by ‘elephants’ or even create a market of their own. All such start-ups have one thing in common– the ability to act creatively. You can’t win by simply replicating a big company’s game that’s already been polished. A small company needs to use its own advantages, like agility, being closer to customers, and, of course, being different in some aspect that is important to customers.

For instance, there’s an interesting case study about how Bulldog, a small UK company producing male grooming products, found a way to compete against giants like L’Oreal and Nivea. First, instead of using generic skincare product formulas Bulldog developed its own recipes using all natural ingredients. They also decided to use an unorthodox marketing strategy and teamed up with comedian David Mitchell to sponsor a series of comedy monologues. These videos collected more than 8 million views and grew Bulldog’s retail sales in UK by 65.4%.

When Wrike came to the project management space seven years ago, most of the solutions were built for industrial business models. Instead of entering the market as ‘just another company’, we decided to develop our own market: we specialize in helping creative workers collaborate online. Wrike brought something new ‘real-time collaboration’ and, thanks to delivering the solution via cloud, made it considerably cheaper. This made Wrike one of the fastest growing companies in the project management and collaboration space.

2. “A black belt is a white belt that never quits”

Renzo Gracie, a world famous Jiu-Jitsu coach, phrased the secret of jiu-jitsu champions pretty cleverly in the quote above. They train harder, day after day, year after year. They find ways to organize their life around this tough schedule, and think about improving their skill even when they’re not training.

It may look like Silicon Valley is built on stories of ‘overnight success.’ However, it is determination and persistence that make this success happen. Of course, luck helps, too. But it’s the luck of being persistent enough to find numerous opportunities, and being smart and disciplined enough to make those opportunities work.

3. Dojo is a place to learn

In jiu-jitsu a dojo is a training place where you can share knowledge and try new moves without risk and fear. Often it’s something you’re not supposed to do in competition, where you go with a well-developed game.

In business, the same can be achieved by ‘inducing learning.’ Instead of making a big ‘all in’ move right away, you can run a test project and study the results. If it works well, you can quickly scale it. Prototyping, A/B tests, crowd funded pre-orders in consumer space, you name it. The toolset of techniques grows quickly and becomes more and more sophisticated; all you need to do is to integrate them into your company’s daily processes.

4. Never stop moving

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu once you stop moving you get caught in a submission hold. In business, no matter how big you are, once you stop moving forward the competition will pass you. Andy Grove, famous ex-CEO of Intel, and Clayton Christensen, who came up with the concept of disruptive innovation, developed this point in their books Only the Paranoid Survive and The Innovator’s Dilemma.

There are many examples of successful companies which became complacent and then when disruptive innovation happened turned into dinosaurs, such as Blockbuster and Kodak. Apple, on the other hand, is a testimony of a ‘paranoid mentality.’ When developing the iPhone, the company expected its sales of iPod to decline; and in developing the iPad, its Mac computer line to be negatively affected. But Apple chooses to constantly one-up itself. In fact, Steve Jobs famously said: ‘If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.’ It is exactly this mentality that allows the company to beat the ‘innovators’ dilemma.’

5. If you want to be a blue belt, make Jiu-jitsu your hobby. If you want to be a black belt, make it your life

Both in Jiu-Jitsu training and in business, genuine love for what you do and what you want to accomplish is, at the end of the day, what keeps you going. There are, of course rough patches, but when someone says that they have no idea how they would function day-to-day without your company (as our customer recently did), you know you must be doing something right. As Steve Jobs once stated, ‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.’ So, savor good moments, keep your eye on the goals you want to achieve, and enjoy the ride.

Are there any lessons that you can take from your hobby into your professional life?

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Author’s Bio: Andrew Filev is the founder and CEO of Wrike, a leading provider of task management software. He is a seasoned software entrepreneur, project and product manager with 10+ years of experience and advisor to several fast-growing ventures. Apart from business, Andrew is interested in human and artificial intelligence – from cognitive psychology to neuroscience to machine learning. He also trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You can find Andrew on Twitter as @andrewsthoughts or @wrike (Wrike).

I Meant To Do That! How To Turn A Mistake Into Success

By Jon Norwood

I’ve started four businesses and successfully sold three. The common factor in all of them is that I made at least one serious error right out of the gate. When you’re faced with a fixed and immovable object, caused by either a mistake or due to matters outside of your control, if you cannot change it stop fighting it. But simply embracing it is not enough however. Adapt your plan and make this obstacle part of your intentional offering.

Military strategists, as well as every mother of little children, have learned how to roll with the punches. Adapt to the environment and its challenges. If you want to guarantee your failure, approach your business (and life in general) with a stiff neck and refuse to be flexible. If you don’t believe me, just picture all those poor suckers that collapse while standing at attention with their knees locked!

Real World Example

A businessman opened a “ropes” course for corporations. After he founded the company, spent the revenue building the course and marketing the opening of his new venture, he was informed that he could not sell alcohol. He didn’t think it would be a major problem, but as the months went on, he discovered just the opposite.

The corporations discovered that they had a hard time getting “buy in” from their employees and volunteers that were asked to spend an entire day that far out in the country, and not be able to have a happy hour after the event. In fact, the promise of a happy hour was a major selling point for his competition!

After 2 years of struggling, he was considering closing the doors. Then he had the idea that he could embrace the problem. In other words, he could look for organizations that would choose him over his competition BECAUSE he CHOSE to not serve alcohol.

Religious and conservative organizations found this marketing enticing. To his surprise, many organizations began to choose his course because they would no longer be vulnerable to law suits due to alcohol abuse and driving under the influence! His limitation became a powerful selling point.

Embrace your limitations and find a way to position them as strengths.

Bad location? Say it was on purpose and adjust your offering.
Spent a ton of money on a typewriter when everyone else is buying a computer? Learn to research for the next time. Say you love the quality and send out letters from that typewriter with marketing about your dedication to quality!

There is always an angle! You just have to stop freaking out to see it. It’s not a matter of being misleading in any way, it’s a choice of looking at the situation from a positive mindset and marketing from that perspective.

Author’s Bio: Jon Norwood writes about business and technology at http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tech-talk/. He is also the author of internet providers by zip code. You can find him on Twitter as @mobileinformers.

4 Fear Busters To Jumpstart Your Business

By Kevin Kelly

In my latest book, DO! The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution, I interviewed entrepreneurs from around the world. They lead some of the world’s most compelling brands and companies, ranging from one to 3,000 employees, with turnovers from $100,000 to $130 million. I call them the Xceptionalists. They hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Bologna, Italy; from Des Moines, Iowa to Galway, Ireland. They run app companies, consultancies, clinics and sprawling technology corporations.

Given that half of all new business fail in the first five years, how did they deal with fear and survive their early failures?

1. Stop fearing feedback

Xceptionalists treat failures as feedback and a prelude to future success. Ben Milne of Dwolla said, “… I have failed in making adaptations to the product… I have failed at selecting business partners. I nearly went out of business three times in my career. When you are failing the key point is to just admit it. … The longer you drag it out the less chance you have.”

According to Peldi from Balsamiq. “Mistakes don’t really matter that much as long as you fix them straight away and put your hand up. … It is very much the lean start-up way: throw it out there and listen.”

Why fear feedback? Why stigmatize failure in the workplace when it’s bringing you closer to achieving your organizational goals. If you want to find the next big success, failure comes with the territory.

2. Face and floor it

In the early 1970’s, during the height of the political turmoil that rocked Northern Ireland, Agnes McCourt, owner of Unislim had a very frightening encounter with an armed and masked gunman, Agnes’s husband wanted to cease all business links in Northern Ireland and relocate to Southern Ireland. Agnes agreed to the house move but continued to develop the her business. Why? “In business, one has to be fearless and do what one’s inner voice tells you is the right thing,” she told me.

Devon Brooks co-founder of the unique women’s personal care business Blo Blow Dry Bars, was sexually assaulted and went through the ensuing harrowing judicial process. She made a personal commitment that she would never let her past get in the way of taking action. Devon told me, “Sometimes you live life, and sometimes life happens to you. But you always get to choose what you do about it.”

3. Find the source of the fear

Like many Xceptionalists, when fear raises its head, Patrick McKeown of Asthmacare had a strategy that works for him. He asks three questions:

  • What is the best possible outcome?
  • What is the worst possible outcome?
  • What outcome falls between the above two?

McKeown says entrepreneurs who survive in the long term take calculated risks, and tend not to take monumental courses of action with their head stuck in the sand. So the fear has no gone away, they just understand it a little better.

4. Flow floors fear

For our Xceptionalists from Brazil, WeDemand.com, fear was never an issue. They have been so immersed in an industry they love, they haven’t had the time or the inclination to be afraid. “I would tell entrepreneurs not to be afraid. If you sit around and just wish about your idea, nothing will happen. All you can lose is money and there is no shame in trying,” said cofounder Bruno Natal.

So in essence, there is nothing to fear. The challenge for you the entrepreneur is to find your passion and make fear history.

See more extracts from Kevin Kelly’s new book “Do! The pursuit of Xceptional Execution”

Author’s Bio: Kevin is an internationally acclaimed leadership and motivational speaker and best selling author. For more information: http://www.kevinkellyunlimited.com.

15 Ways to Zig When You Want to Zag

When you woke up this morning, did you grab your robe, shuffle to the kitchen, and press the Brew button? (Mine was a Starbucks Verona K-cup.)

How to zig when you want to zag

Most people spend their entire lives in that same state of semi-aware robot sameness. They do the same thing every day, say the same things, write the same things, look the same way.

And then they expect something to change.

They’re stuck.

My suggestion is: zig when you want to zag.

  1. Have tea tomorrow morning instead of coffee.
  2. Wear an acid green shirt.
  3. Drive a different route to work (or hitch a ride with a colleague).
  4. If you always write about marketing, write a post about neuropsychology or ant farming.
  5. Practice a new response to “how are you?” Instead of “fine, how are you,” what if you said, “I’m FANtastic!”
  6. Floss tomorrow.
  7. If you’ve been afraid to submit a guest post to your favorite blog, just do it.
  8. When you normally would say “no thank you” to something, go for it and say “sure, thanks!”
  9. Go for a full day without typing minimizing words in any emails (like “just” or “sorry”).
  10. Have lunch at a place you’ve never been.
  11. Have you become afraid of talking on the phone? Call three clients out of the blue.
  12. Mail a handwritten thank you note to someone.
  13. If you have a habit of checking email first thing in the morning, wait until noon.
  14. Pick a new habit to incorporate into your routine (listen to this awesome podcast from Michael Hyatt for some help with that).
  15. Choose one task you need to get done, and ask someone for help with it.

Get unstuck. Out of the rut.

Things will change if you change them.

The Successful-Blog community is here to help. What can we help you get unstuck from?

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee


Photo Credit: purplemattfish via Compfight cc

Stop trying to be like everyone else – grow your business faster

By Brian Morris

A few years ago, two friends started a small business in my hometown. Like so many local entrepreneurs that came before and after, they failed. Within a year of opening their doors, their business was dead. They listened to business advice from the wrong people, people whose own businesses were struggling, people who kept telling them to be patient, and they were forced to shut their doors.

If you’ve ever researched starting your own business, you know that one of the most discouraging bits of information consistently recycled by small business gurus is that it will take two to three years for your business to be profitable. That’s a kick in the teeth to otherwise-motivated entrepreneurs who don’t have three years of income built up – or, most of the living universe.

And it’s hogwash. Look, this is the digital age. You can turn a profit today.

Now, I don’t want to oversimplify the process of building a profitable business, and I’m well aware that start-up costs and overhead for, say, a refrigerated trucking company are vast in comparison to, say, a graphic design firm. But the reason I think it takes so many entrepreneurs so long to turn a profit is that they’re trying to be like everyone else.

It all comes down to marketing. You see what the successful businesses are doing, and you try to do it, too. There are three ways people market in my hometown, which boasts a population of around 8,000 people: television, radio and newspaper.

To that I say: expensive, ineffective and wasted effort, respectively. It’s literally been years since I’ve received a direct-mail postcard from a local company, despite the fact that I get postcards every day from national brands. And door hangers? Please…

No one hosts publicity stunts. No one markets effectively on the web. No one posts massive vinyl banners at the busiest intersections, which witness traffic figures easily 10 times the population every single day.

And guess what? Most of our start-ups fail. They blame their failure on so many things: the economy, lack of support for local businesses, the “death” of our downtown, Amazon.com. Few ever blame the real culprits: themselves.

Instead of marketing where everyone else does, try something new. Distribute door hangers door-to-door. Print vinyl banners and place them in high-traffic areas. Brainstorm a fun and engaging publicity stunt, and get awesome PR for it. These are all cheap. These are all highly effective.

What happened to my two friends? Well, one decided to start another business. He opened an office and began to toil, plying his service using the same failed strategies. His mindset, I think, was that the business wasn’t profitable because two people were one too many to get by on their profits.

The other likewise started another business, but adopted a different, more bold marketing strategy. He walked the city with door hangers, began submitting press releases to the local paper, joined networking groups, volunteered in the community, and always has a nice big banner prominently displayed.

Five years later, the friend who opted to keep going down the path of slow and steady lives in an apartment on the wrong side of town. He works out of his rental unit, the downtown studio long gone. The other has bought a new home in a good neighborhood (and I think he’s got at least $30,000 wrapped up in a new addition) and is well-known, respected, and liked throughout the community. His business, it seems, is thriving.

To the best of my knowledge, both of my friends are capable of producing high-quality work, but only one is willing to do what his competitors will not. You hear NFL players talk about playing with a sense of urgency. My friend worked with a sense of urgency – a do-or-die, now-or-never approach – and grew his business rapidly.

Go guerrilla. Market aggressively and on the cheap. Be a grassroots business. Push for business growth without wasteful marketing efforts.

Be bold, and do what your competitors will not do. Don’t do what failed businesses have tried.

Stop trying to be like everyone else. Don’t fail by taking the well-worn path. Be new, different, better. Grow your business faster.

Author’s Bio: Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.

The Ron Popeil Method of Problem-Solving

My favorite Ron Popeil commercial was always the rotisserie chicken machine. “Set it and forget it!” Who doesn’t want to have delicious, juicy chicken roasting in their kitchen, being basted by a machine?

Showtime rotisserie machine

Stay with me a minute while I equate your brain to that self-basting rotisserie machine.

Your unconscious mind is capable of doing a lot of heavy lifting while you’re going about your daily tasks. According to a University of Alberta study, it’s constantly evaluating whether objects in your environment are helping you move toward your goals or away from them.

Your unconscious can be creative, even while you’re vacuuming or playing golf or filling out timesheets.

So if you’re trying to come up with a new idea, a blog topic, a cartoon, a product design, it pays to “set it and forget it.”

This mechanism is the basis for Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, Oprah’s dream boards, and enough self-help books to fill the Grand Canyon.

But wait, there’s more!

You can try this in your very own home for the low, low price of….nothing!

Step One – What’s Your Problem?

Think very vividly and in detail about the parameters of your problem. Say it out loud to yourself, write it down, describe it to someone else. Just define what you’re trying to solve (perhaps you’re just looking for a great blog topic).

Step Two – Go About Your Business

That’s it. Totally forget about your issue, and concentrate on another task that’s unrelated. Do the laundry, file your taxes, finish that re-branding project, anything that distracts you from the problem.

That’s when the magic happens. Delicious, juicy, rotisserie chicken, just for you.

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee


Will achieving your life’s dream make you happy?

When I was 10, I wanted to be an archaeologist. Something about the King Tutankhamen treasures touring the country inspired me, and I desperately wanted to find dinosaur bones. Then at some point, I found out that archaeology involved a lot of fruitless sweating, kneeling in the dirt, and being bitten by insects. I moved on to dream of becoming a children’s book writer, which involved none of those things.

king-tutankhamun

Are you working toward a specific life’s goal, either personally or professionally?

Have you stopped to analyze the reality of achieving your goals?

For example, if one of your career goals is to become a famous speaker, giving keynotes all over the world for big-time fees, have you considered the travel involved? Time away from your family, hotel rooms, TSA inspections? Yep, that’s glamorous.

If your corporate goal is to bring in 10 Fortune 500 clients, have you thought through the realities of servicing an enterprise customer? Massive bureaucracy, expectations, slow decision-making…and reliance on a few large customers can be risky as well.

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

The homework today is to review your goals, both written and unwritten. Take a half hour to visualize what your life would be like if you achieved them. Is it the life you want?

If not, you need new goals.

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee



Image via Flickr CC: Mediocre2010

The Connection of Strategy to Tactics

By James Ellis

In a previous post, I suggested that strategy was the achievement of our intended purpose in a given context. Strategies can’t be plans or just “smarter thinking” because that relies too much on a specific context. Context changes every second, so a plan that relies on it is doomed.

However, achieving an intention is a vague and perhaps even dubious sentence. It’s all well and good to say you’ll achieve an intention when you don’t have to say how. That’s where tactics come in.

The word “intention” is probably the most important because it allows you to align all your tactics to help you achieve that goal. Or, more interestingly, all your reports to determine the right tactics on their own.

We live in a world where you might have access to a digital specialist, a media specialist (a digital media specialist, maybe), a social specialist, a content specialist, an even specialist and a PR specialist. This world exists because each one of those ideas is a full-time gig requiring a lot of specialized knowledge. No one person can do it all. Not even you. So you need to lean on these experts to help you achieve your intention.

But you can’t just tell these specialists what to do. Remember, they know their jobs better than you know their jobs (that’s why you pay them). So you have to help them understand your intention (strategy) so they can build out tactics.

This feels scary. You are entrusting others to achieve execute strategy. But that’s the only way to achieve your success in the face of such a specialized world with so many interconnected moving pieces.

Why do this instead of just getting them all in a room so you can make a plan? When, aside from the sheer cost of that meeting, that plan will be almost impossible to implement. Remember, your own staff will constitute your context. Implementing a media plan will change the context and affect the plan. Even if you can lay all those moving pieces out, what are the odds that they all execute perfectly? What happens when your live event gets pre-empted or changed because of forces outside of your control? That might render your own plans worthless or even counter-productive.

Managing the strategy still gives you a higher-level view of the situation. You can see that things are shifting and relay information to the rest of the team.

You can’t rely on planning for every contingency because you will never anticipate them all. Instead, focus on your intent, relaying it to your staff, and let them make decisions. They are your experts. A plan locks players in place, without giving them the flexibility to deflect losses or take advantage of unforeseen opportunities. For example, when your social expert sees an opportunity to newsjack a story and build more buzz, You can’t have built a plan around that. And you’ll have to react quickly to take advantage of the opportunity, so bringing the full team together to change the plan around will be the same as throwing money away.

This is why building your team is crucial. Your job isn’t to do their job. Your job is to help them achieve your goal.

Author’s Bio: James Ellis is the Director of Digital Strategy at FLIRT Communications. His latest book, Google Analytics for Small Business is currently in beta. He’s giving away discounted copies if you are willing to help make it even better.

What is Strategy? Ask a Two-Year Old

By James Ellis

I wish I didn’t know so many people, in places of influence and power, who didn’t know what strategy was. Too often, it is a word used in place of words like “plan” or “tactic.” Some people just use it as a placeholder for the idea that we shouldn’t make a decision instinctively, but to stand back and think about it for second.

This isn’t what strategy is. Strategy could be summarized as “the achievement of our intended purpose in a given context.” MBA words, all of them, but it’s actually pretty simple.

Strategies can’t be a plan, because a plan depends on the context (place, players, situation, your level of motivation, the motivation of your staff, your resources, the position of your competition, etc). All of these things shift at a moment’s notice, so a plan that depends on any of them is doomed if anything changes. Your “strategy” to enter the email service market went up in smoke when Google announced Gmail. The context changes, and so must your plans. Thus, a plan is not a strategy.

Strategies can’t be tied too closely to tactics, because those need to be selected closer to the moment of execution. Like a plan, too many things change. Your “strategy” to launch your product in Boston was great… until last week. Thus, a tactic is not a strategy.

Your strategy is the achievement of an intent. You want to be a challenger in a specific market. You want to be the number one player in that market in five years. That’s a mission or goal. How you achieve that goal is your strategy.

You want to see strategy in action? Watch a two-year old try and get a cookie off the counter. Watch them look at the field of battle, sizing up the height of the counter. Then they look for mom; how far away is she? Can she hear me? Is she distracted? They have a plan. Halfway through executing that plan, mom comes back in. Plan paused. The context has shifted. The plan won’t work. (At this point, how many companies would keep working on the plan, knowing full well it was doomed?)

A new tactic is demanded to achieve the goal. Crying? Maybe. Asking sweetly? Possible. Wait until the field is clear? That could take too long. Throw a toy to the ground and make a mess, causing a distraction? Yes. Boom. Cookie.

That’s the execution of a strategy. It evaluated many tactics, using the one that worked in that context. In a larger organization, where the selection and execution of tactics is selected by lower divisions, things only work when there’s a central strategy to align with.

I highly recommend The Art of Action by Stephen Bungay, the first book that looks properly at strategy as it originated in military thinking, and how it has evolved into how we make smart business decisions. (Don’t let the word “military in that sentence spook you: it’s a great read, even if everything you know about war strategy comes from watching the War Room scene in Dr. Strangelove).

So what’s your strategy? And where’s your cookie?

Author’s Bio: James Ellis is the Director of Digital Strategy at FLIRT Communications. His latest book, Google Analytics for Small Business is currently in beta. He’s giving away discounted copies if you are willing to help make it even better.

Spring Cleaning for the Mind

By Tiffany Matthews

There will come a time when you find yourself unable to write, not just for hours at end, but days and weeks. The worst is when those weeks stretch into months. By then, the screen’s cursor constant blinking would become a taunting reminder that you have yet to type words, not even one word. If you’re suffering from a serious case of writer’s block, simple tips to beat blank page syndrome will no longer suffice. Badly burned out and drained of every last drop of creative juice? It’s time to call in the big guns.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

When a writer friend suddenly announced on Facebook that she was going to unplug and go away for awhile, I was concerned. I wondered what she could possibly be going through. I had my answer when she resurfaced online three long months later. Apparently, she had been dutifully following a 12-week program based on Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. Judging from her relaxed and happier mood, the long break has been helpful in restoring her creativity as well as productivity. The program also helped her get over her major case of writer’s block and gave her more insight on the artistic process.

Some people will not like everything about The Artist’s Way. The long period required to complete the program will not appeal to active writers–who are trying to survive daily life and–who can’t afford to break off from work just for the sake of creativity. There are a couple of things in this book, however, that they can can still do–morning pages and artist dates.

Morning Pages

Every day for the next 12 weeks, you have to pen three handwritten pages, all done first thing in the morning during a stream of consciousness, which means you can’t look back at the previous pages you have written. If you’re not a morning person, you might think twice about waking up early for this exercise. You’ll probably wonder how you can write when you’re still drowsy. Once you get started, however, you’ll be surprised to discover clarity and how easily you can fill up 3 pages. When you write, don’t think, just let the words flow. Ramble if you must. When you read the sheets, you’ll find out that your true thoughts–some repressed–and find a way to resolve some of the issues that have been in your mind for a long time. This practice of morning pages also helps transform writing into more of a daily habit and makes the words flow easier.

Artist Dates

“Artist Dates are assigned play.” Once a week, you must embark on an expedition alone in order to explore what is of interest to you. It doesn’t have to be overly artistic, but it should fire up your imagination. An artist date should be fun and whimsical, something that encourages play. Art is all about the play of ideas, so open yourself to fun things that you want to try. When we experience something new or something that we enjoy, it helps fuel our creativity and build up another reservoir of inspiration that we can draw from. Artist dates replenish our creative juices, adding new ideas and images that bring us closer to our inner artist and craft new masterpieces.

General Cleaning

Sometimes people dread spring, not because they are not looking forward to warmer weather but because it’s time for spring cleaning. Cleaning your house from top to bottom until you drop can be therapeutic for writers and artists, not to mention productive. Just remember to invest in a good vacuum cleaner. The no-handles type can help you get rid of every speck of dust, even in those hidden corners under beds and furniture that you can’t reach. Who knows, you just might get some great ideas while you’re cleaning. Having a sparkly clean house also feels very rewarding especially after all the hard work you’ve put in. The actual spring cleaning helps relax your mental state and makes you feel refreshed. The more relaxed you are, the more your ideas will flow so you can now get back to work.

Spring cleaning isn’t just for the house. Sometimes, we need to apply it to ourselves so we can recharge and welcome new changes that will help us grow as writers and artists.

Author’s Bio: Based in San Diego, California, Tiffany Matthews writes about travel, fashion and anything under sun at wordbaristas.com. You can find her on Twitter as
@TiffyCat87.