Saturday, November 01, 2008

How To Be More Creative

In an effort to boost my frugal skills, I pulled out a book I read years ago and loved, "The Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn. In it, the author has published articles from her 6 years of Tightwad Gazette newsletter. There are some wonderful and some kinda far fetched ideas in it, but all of them are good for consideration if your goal is to cut back expenses. Amy has a unique way of looking at things.

One article in her book that I particularly love is titled, "How To Be More Creative." When trying to cut expenses, often there is a creative way to do things differently that costs little or no money. I love being creative. Many people tell me that they are not creative. I don't believe this. God, the author of creativity, created us in His image; therefore, we must have inherited a bit of that creativity. Everyone has a spark of creativity in at least one area of their life.

Here are 10 steps that Amy maps out on the path to creativity in her article:

#1: "Realize that you are creative and nurture this creativity in your daily life."

#2: "Give yourself mental space. " We tend to fill our lives with mental clutter. This is the background noise of the TV or radio, the unproductive chats on the phone, etc. Look for times in your day when you can turn off the noise and just think. This can be during some of the mundane tasks of housework (doing dishes, folding laundry). I also have made it a habit to often turn off the radio in my car. This is a perfect quiet time to think things over. Another thing that I do is carve out a quiet time in the morning before the rest of my family awakens. I use this time for bible study, prayer, and planning out my day. Often I will just sit with a notebook and brainstorm ideas for a particular situation. I love what Amy says about this, "When someone says, 'I'm just not creative like you,' I reply 'No, I just thought about it longer."

#3: "Never compare yourself to others." There will always be people more creative than you out there. There will also always be less creative people out there.

#4: "Put the problem into your mental computer." Your brain is always thinking and churning, even when you sleep. If you are trying to come up with a great idea, think about it and let it rest. And remember to give yourself a couple of months of "mental back burner time."

#5: "Brainstorm" Discuss your ideas with someone else or write ideas down. Discuss or write ALL your ideas, even the ones that sound stupid. Sometimes it is just a twist on one of these ideas that works.

#6: "Find a springboard, a starting place." If your goal is to save money, this may be what cheap or free resources you have available.

#7: "Do not share your creative ideas with anyone who continually tells you they are dumb." This is pretty self-explanatory. You don't foster creativity by demeaning it.

#8: "Practice." The more you practice the habit of being creative, the easier it will become to be creative.

#9: "Avoid negative stress." Stress and focusing on only the negatives squelches creativity.

#10: "Start small. When you bite off more than you can chew, you set yourself up for failure." Be realistic in your goals.

I highly recommend reading "The Tightwad Gazette." It is full of wonderful ideas and much food for thought. I originally read this shortly after having my first baby and was working full-time. I soon realized that I was not cut out to be a full-time working mom and this book helped give us the courage for me to quit my job. This was a big leap of faith as I was on mandatory over-time and making a higher income than my hubby AND I was carrying our insurance. I began implementing some of the ideas in this book and we survived.

Now, that we are at a different stage of our lives and realizing that we need to tighten our belts, I am rereading this. I have changed a lot in the last 15 years and our family situation has changed a lot, as well. This is causing me to read this with new eyes and new thoughts and I am really enjoying it.

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