The Daily Teacher Podcast – Episode 3 – Unplugged

In this podcast, I talk about unplugging in a constantly connected world, and how doing nothing may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done!

Listen to the podcast in mp3:

Listen to the podcast in ogg:

Stay tuned for a new podcast every week!

Follow me (and then UNPLUG):

Twitter: @thedailyteacher
Blog: www.thedailyteacher.com

 

Some important stuff:

Intro Music: “Take a Chance” from Royalty Free by Kevin MacLeod. Released: 2013.

Outro Music: “DarxieLand” from Royalty Free by Kevin MacLeod. Released: 2013.

Check out Kevin’s other music at http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/collections.php

“Overwhelmed with ideas? Brainstorm using post-its!”

“Overwhelmed with ideas? Brainstorm using post-its!”

The other day I found myself struggling slightly with my thesis. I thought I had an idea of how it would play out, but my research and my thoughts just weren’t corresponding. I’d already scrapped 4 drafts (two weeks time) because things didn’t float. I’d spent so much time on the computer, cutting and pasting just the titles for each major section of the paper, to no avail. I LOVE using the computer. It’s easy to cut and paste, easy to save multiple drafts. For whatever reason, this time it wasn’t working…

So I pulled out a stack of post-its and wrote each major topic I wanted to discuss, along with some sub-topics on each stickie. Then, like a box of puzzle pieces, I started to put them on the ground, arranging and rearranging as I needed. It took three hours, but my large stack of post-its was organized perfectly into the basic outline for my thesis.

Postit White Board

One problem I had initially, was that I couldn’t see EVERYTHING in front of me. I needed to see the big picture and how everything fit together. I needed the image on the puzzle box before I knew what I was really creating. On the computer screen, or on ONE piece of paper, this is almost impossible. There isn’t enough room. I can’t see everything in ONE page. Doing it this way, with the floor as my creative canvas, allowed me to have a much larger scope of data visibility, and helped put things together.

Another problem I had was that I had my topics all in my head. I had a gist of what I wanted, and even though I’d written it down many times, it didn’t flow quite as well as I hoped it would. Writing each topic out on ONE post-it and taking things ONE STEP AT A TIME, really helped put each topic into perspective of the bigger picture. I was able to look at each piece, and try out different possibilities all at once, until I found the one that looked and felt right.

By the end of the experience, I had a floor of post-its, but could tell you exactly how everything weaved into one another, and what role each played in the overall scheme of things. Just when you think you have the best method of brainstorming mastered (aka: typing everything into a word document), an alternative presents itself that worked 100 times better. Keep an open mind, try out new ways of doing and seeing, and you won’t miss the big picture, OR how the little pieces fit into it.

PS: Post-its are quite fun to play with anyway!

Brainstorm Ideas

“Negate writer’s block by seeking out inspiration, or inquiry.”

“Negate writer’s block by seeking out inspiration, or inquiry.”

Writer’s block happens to all of us. Doesn’t matter whether we’re writing for fun, for work, an essay, or a letter to someone…Writer’s block is unbiased and undiscriminatory. And when it targets you, it can be hard to run away from which can completely block the creative process.

I’ve found that the best way to overcome writer’s block is to ignite your inspiration. Writer’s block seems to have difficulty affecting someone who is inspired to express something because the flow of ideas simply pours forth. This lesson is a collection of many different tactics I’ve used that can help get the flow of creativity going again when writer’s block takes hold. Here are some things that may work:

1. Stop trying to write. Go for a walk, meditate, do something different and then return.
2. Listen to music that inspires you.
3. Have a discussion with a friend, bounce off ideas.
4. Read a favorite passage from a book, watch a favorite part of a movie.

If none of these tactics work, I usually visit my “inspiration hub” websites. These are sites that have always triggered some thought, which often helps the blankness of writer’s block go away. I often end up writing some thoughts about what I’ve seen or read on one of these sites below, and that act alone seems to trigger the burst of creativity I need. Seek inspiration. Then, inquire: how do these blogs make you feel? What do they make you think about? Sometimes creativity just needs a little push to get going…

Thought Questions
Makes Me Think
Post Secret
Inspired Thoughts
The Chosen Words
Daily Dose of Imagery
Found Magazine
Surviving the World
1000 Awesome Things

How do YOU overcome writer’s block? Comment with your thoughts and suggestions!

“Send a thank you card.”

“Send a thank you card.”

We have much in our lives to be thankful for. Between family, lifestyle, health, happiness, status, certainty, wealth etc, there is something that we should be thankful for. There are many instances where people are deserving of a little thank you. Maybe someone holds a door open for you, helps you with a grocery bag, or simply puts a smile on your face.

But on occasion, people cross our paths that warrant a little more than a simple “thank you”. They can be mentors, friends, family, professionals, or perfect strangers that you met. It can be following an interview, a lunch, an exchange of ideas, an invitation. Maybe they gave you some wonderful advice. Maybe they gave you a much needed kick to the rear. No matter who they are, if you want to send your thanks, do so by sending them a little card. It costs very little, takes very little time, but is a gesture that can mean a lot to that individual.

When you write your letter, be sure to take a few moments to recall what interaction you had with them, and what it is you are thankful for. Be sure to be sincere with your words. Like most acts of compassion or kindness, there is an inevitable benefit to you as well. In this day and age, most people feel more comfortable texting, or emailing their thanks. Sending a card stands out since it happens so infrequently. They’re much more likely to remember your name if you’ve taken the moment to write it out by hand.

And anyway, a thank you card looks wonderful on a desk, or up on a wall 😉

Thank You Card

“Instead of ending the day with a screen, end it with a page.”

“Instead of ending the day with a screen, end it with a page.”

I usually end my nights watching a Ted talk on my laptop. It’s practically become a habit now. Last night, I decided instead to revive an old habit and read a book for 20 minutes before bed. And when I woke up this morning I remembered why I used to read a lot more before bed before the internet was so readily available: because it REALLY helped me relax and knocked me out cold. It made for a much more relaxing pre-bed ritual, and that’s not surprising.

The minutes leading up to bed can really shape how you sleep. Do/see something exciting and odds are you’ll be so excited you can’t even get to bed. Do something relaxing, and odds are you’ll sleep easier. But more than doing something relaxing is HOW you do it. Although watching a TED talk was a great way to learn something before bed, I found myself wide awake after. The likely cause? Artificial light from the television. Reading a book with a bedside lamp is slightly different in that you aren’t looking directly at a source of light.

Open Book

But all that aside, there’s just something very relaxing about a book: the crisp sound of page turning, that old book, or new book smell, every texture and sound as experienced by the reader, the weight of the book, being able to quickly determine where in the book you are just by holding the book and reading it and so on.

There’s a lot going on with a book that doesn’t quite happen with a screen. Next time you want to read an online article on an iPad, watch something on your television, or surf via your smartphone, give a book a chance and see if it helps you fall asleep quicker. New technology can be a great thing. But sometimes, classics never die…

(If you’re reading this right now before bed, GO READ A BOOK!)

Additional Food For Thought

Turning off Technology – Reuters 

Reading on an iPad Before Bed – LA Times Blog

“Give yourself small bursts of focus, instead of long periods of distraction.”

“Give yourself small bursts of focus, instead of long periods of distraction.”

There could be a lot of different causes for the decline of attention spans in society, particularly with the computer using generation. But whatever the cause, its important to acknowledge that for some of us, it is difficult to stay completely focused on one singular task without being distracted. Even when we shut off our phones, or turn off the internet (if such a thing is possible), our minds still seem to wander, expecting that distraction every single second.

Recently, I’ve been testing out a new way to stay productive, and it involves smaller bursts of attention. Rather than stay focused for 2 hours, which can be daunting, I try to stay focused for 45 minutes, and give myself a 15 minute break each hour. In doing so, I’m able to stay focused on the task I am doing, and end up with a much better result, than if I tried to sit myself down for 2 hours at a time (which results in distractions every 5 minutes).

My 45/15 rule may not work for all. I know a few friends who apply a rule of 25 minutes of focus, 5 minutes of play, rinse and repeat. The point is to find out what system works for you and then use it to increase your productivity. Smaller bursts become much more manageable, and its easier to believe we can perform in those circumstances, versus the daunting. That isn’t to say that what appears daunting can’t be done, but rather than NOT doing anything because you feel so overwhelmed, breaking it down into small chunks of time may help.

Aside from trying to avoid distractions, this methodology can help you BEGIN working period. Sometimes the hardest thing to do, is to start our tasks, and that can be difficult if it is particularly intimidating. By breaking down the tasks required into smaller pieces, the intimidating can become manageable.

So do a little bit of experimenting: find out what works best for you. There are far too many distractions in the world, but perhaps by tackling these distractions by allowing ourselves smaller chunks of productive time rather than one massive chunk that simply doesn’t permit much work to get done, we can actually be productive! By breaking things down into smaller chunks, we can process them better.

After all, every big thing is made up of smaller parts. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

“Always backup your data.”

“Always backup your data.”

HowtoGeek - Backup Your Data

Today’s lesson is one that I’m sure many people reading the blog can relate to. It’s obvious, but almost always overlooked, and the premise is very simple. Technology is not invulnerable and can suffer through harm. Because we live in a culture that depends so extensively on technology, and computers in particular, any harm they suffers harms us in turn. There was probably an age where people did not have to fret over the problem of lost data, but that age seems to have come and gone. Now we have to worry about the data on our computers, from infection, corruption, or deletion.

We all know what it’s like to try and access something only to find that its been deleted. How many of us have pulled out our hair in terror and rage at the realization that once again our computer has crashed, taking with it weeks, months, or even years of data. It’s just stressful, and we are part to place for our dependence on these technologies, and for not taking the initiative to ensure that if we lose our data, we can always replace it.

So today’s lesson isn’t so much spiritual, or philosophical, as it is practical. And it’s very easy to do. Take some time off as soon as you can and backup your data. Whether its on your computer, on your smartphone, or somewhere else, make copies, duplicate everything, and make sure you take care to ensure THAT copy is protected as well.

Technology provides us with so many benefits that we often take those benefits foregranted. That is until it is taken away from us. Ensure you don’t lose the data that matters to you. Make a backup! NOW! So you don’t end up like this guy…

Teknowlodgy - Data Loss

Additional Thoughts

Why Backup Your Data

You’re Backing Up Your Data the Wrong Way – Lifehacker

The Best Articles for Backing up Your Data – How To Geek