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A publication from Medium on personal development.


In Forge. More on Medium.

A strategy for when you’re feeling depleted

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Lately, I have been almost completely out of ideas. To most people, this might not be such a big deal, but it’s my job as a writer and editor to synthesize what I notice about the world into narratives that are fresh and interesting.

I know I’m not alone here. Friends and colleagues tell me they feel like they’ve forgotten how to talk to other people, how to make connections. It’s not just that we’re out of practice—I think our mental pantries are depleted.

What’s a mental pantry? It’s the part of your brain you rummage through when you’re trying…

👟 Tip: Talk into a voice transcription app while you walk.

If you’ve been staring at a blank page on your screen for longer than you care to admit, one of the best things you can do is put on your sneakers and flee. That is, go take a walk. Turn on a voice transcription app (here are some options) and, if an idea strikes, start talking. On Medium, Emma Pattee explains that she wrote most of her novel this way, carrying her newborn in a baby wrap or pushing him in stroller. …

🤔 Today’s tip: Schedule a “hunch hour.”

Brainstorm sessions can be useful, but they can also be intimidating. Fred Dust recently wrote on Medium about an alternative: the hunch hour. “A hunch is a whisper of an idea — something that might come to you on a long walk or in the shower. Usually, it’s something so half-baked that you’d normally never utter it aloud, and therefore, it will never become what it could.”

The key is that the feedback that participants receive should be just as half-baked. “You’re not telling the person they’re wrong but rather surfacing a tension…

Researchers have found that our thoughts and choices can be transformed by physical interaction with objects

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At some point, I subconsciously decided that “open computer” equals “working.” So each morning, that’s what I do: flip open my laptop and get to work. Or rather, I try to work. The problem is, I often find myself thinking in circles, returning to my inbox, or feeling totally stuck.

The reality is that the computer is a sad tool for human ideation, one that pales in comparison to the infinite workspace of the real, three-dimensional world. To come up with more ideas, better ideas, and engage with thoughts more deeply, we need to work with our hands. This instinct…

Young woman sitting at a desk and participating in a video conference.
Young woman sitting at a desk and participating in a video conference.
Photo: AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for a workshop on writing effective op-eds with a group of academics. Maybe we would all take turns standing at a podium, playing intellectual defense as people searched for holes in our arguments. But what ended up taking place was both gentler and more energizing — and it’s given me a powerful strategy for propelling ideas forward.

“We’re going to do something I call the ‘Hunch Hour,’” the workshop facilitator, Courtney Martin, told the group. The other participants and I looked at each other, confused. …

How to always come with something meaningful to say

Photo: Michael Yarish/AMC

Most workers intuitively get the concept of professional idea management (or PIM, as no one refers to it). We know not to unleash all of our brilliance in one supreme moment during a meeting.

“Instead of parallel-pathing it, let’s perpendicular-path it! And add additional customer support. And Jayden should manage all of it… and be given a title change and modest increase in salary!”

And we know not to keep everything to ourselves.

“Jayden, I’ll let you take this one.”

And we know timing is important: We try to wait for the right moment to make an assertion.

“Sorry to…

Photo: Heather Gilderoy

In 2013, the author Jen Sincero scored a #1 New York Times bestseller with her irreverent advice manual, You Are a Badass. Since then, the phrase has quite literally become Sincero’s trademark. So, when Forge recently chatted with Sincero about her latest book, Badass Habits, there was one question we absolutely had to ask: What’s with the ‘badass’?

What we got was a lesson in following your creative intuition.

As Sincero put it:

It’s funny. I never, ever used the word ‘badass.’ I’d never be like, ‘Oh, you’re such a badass.’ That was so not in my vernacular at all…

You rarely see how the sausage got made

Digital generated image of abstract multi colored donut/pie chart on pastel green background.
Digital generated image of abstract multi colored donut/pie chart on pastel green background.
Photo: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Co-authored by Robin M. Hogarth

Think of a creative concept that helped to shape the life and culture of the 21st century.

Harry Potter is one example. So is Google. The personal computer is another one.

If you try to list various factors behind the success of whatever idea you thought of, they will likely spring to mind with ease. The Harry Potter books, for example, give us an underdog hero who grows and develops together with the reader. Audiences of all ages can find something for themselves in this saga: friendship, adventure, struggle, love, hate, good, evil.

Google’s search…

Breaking through a creative block doesn’t have to be a whole big thing

Photo: Haitong Yu/Getty Images

It’s hard to come up with fresh new ideas when you’ve been staring at the same four walls for five months. Take it from me, someone who’s been staring at the same four walls for five months. Whether you’re working on a creative project or just need to brainstorm what to say at your next work Zoom, you don’t need to go on a vision quest in order to get inspired. (Though if you do need some time off for a vision quest, we’ll totally cover for you.)

Start a “Spark File.” Michelle Woo, a senior editor here at Forge…

Do not let your inquisitive toddler win

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

It’s bedtime, and you’re trying to get Little Socrates to brush his teeth. He would rather question the nature of reality, which is incompatible with the fastidious scrubbing of every single one of his little pearly whites.

Some questions are too big for us adults to fit into our everyday lives: What is important? What is really true, and what is false? How do we know we can trust our senses? Why do we exist? We stack them neatly in the cupboards of our minds, away from our daily concerns of work and family and health and news and, oh…


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