Archive for Top Tips For…

Top Tips For… Increasing Creativity: How To Improve Creativity

Note: This post is one of a series of posts covering all aspects of Creativity. You can find other posts in this here.

Improving CreativityAs with any element of psychology, there is a heavy debate as to whether Creativity is a product of genes or external factors. Some people believe that some are born with the ability to see things that others can’t. That the likes of Nancy Yi Fan (author of best selling Sword Bird series at the tender age of eleven) was born with the need and the skill to write. Others believe that people are raised to see differently. That you get out of yourself, what you put in. And these desires to be the best are fuelled by those around us and the things that we see.

Keeping creativity aliveI’d like to believe that’s it’s a product of both. Because if you can believe that increasing creativity is possible, then you can believe that you can learn to channel this skill in your field; through the self-training of your mind set. And isn’t bettering yourself, what success is all about?

Either way, all creative persons must work on their creative talents to the same extent, to put them out there to the world. If you’re good at drawing, you know you’re good at drawing and you’ve always been good at drawing. That’s great, good for you.

But you won’t become the next Walt Disney just sitting on the sofa enjoying someone else’s creations. The opportunities, won’t find you. And there’s always going to be someone else learning to draw just as well as you, just next door.

As a creative person myself, I know there are days when inspiration thinks it’s fun to hide away when we most need it. And on those days, I used to be quite unapproachable, I’ll admit, because the world seemed that much more of a grey and concreted place when there was nothing to see.

What you have to get into your head is that… there is always something to see. The second I learnt this skill and the importance of the breaks we take between creative bursts, was the second those dull days became history.

My Top Ten Tips on How to Improve Creativity

1) Don’t limit your thinking – If you’re hard at work on something and life throws another opportunity your way… don’t rule it out. Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of people and places and part of training a mind to be flexible, is being flexible in your physical tasks.

So weave in any opportunities that you can. Chances are that “the website”, “the book”, “the project” is something that you can come back to. Opportunities, on the other hand, usually, come about only once and it’s more important that you cover all possibilities and explore every approach before you make the leap; than taking the leap itself.

2) Don’t spend your life thinking the big idea will come to you – It won’t. When you’ve got no more places in your head to explore, don’t lay at your desk waiting for inspiration to knock on the door when she’s back home, go out and explore the world outside your head. I’m sure she’ll catch up and meet you later. She’s reliable like that.

3) See your life as a creation – If there aren’t any classes out to teach you what you want to learn; make opportunities, find opportunities and take opportunities. Only you can make yourself a success, nobody will fall down from the sky and hand you your big break. 

Creative Apple

The apple fell on Newton’s head, sure, but the idea of gravity was always there. It just took a stimuli to trigger it. It’s the same in the field of creativity; all the best ideas will stem from what you know and what you believe in. So if you surround yourself with stimuli and you will find what you’re looking for.

4) Talk to other people – To inspire the future, you have to learn and build on the past. This could be in terms of past successors in your field, but also in terms of other, ordinary people in your field. Talk to those like-minded, and even those that aren’t; I’m a great believer that taking time out to socialise and learn about other people is one of the best ways to stay inspired and keep your mind alive and open.

5) Find somewhere that is yours to create – It’s as important to be able to take critism of your work constructively as it is to believe in your work. As long as you keep your core close, listen to the people (they’re the ones after all who you’re providing for). But whilst you’re in the initial creative process (and I’m talking, the raw, raw stages) keep the door bolted, barred and stapled shut.

Creative mindYour ideas are your children and in their youth they need your support and your protection. Having that little area in your mind, just for you to make your own decisions, your own choices; the core to the idea, is not a bonus but a necessity of all creative people.

Keeping your ideas there, until their strong enough to face the world, is vital. But it’s also important, physically, that you can learn to work anywhere. So by that ‘somewhere’ I’m not suggesting restriction of any kind. Restriction is the creative person’s poison.

6) “Know that life is a support for art not the other way around”Steven King

When the days are rough, you need a family (and a day job) to keep you going, to support you. When the days are rough, you also need the ability to take a rest. In fact, it’s my advice to stop, just as it’s getting good.

The second a creation becomes a routine or a job, is the second that it’s dead. And if you get too absorbed into your creation; you’ll be nothing more. And without a purpose for the work, there is no purpose. I’m sorry to say, you’re wasting your time. Having a backbone makes it easier to build up the flesh. You may have taken a little time out of your day to keep it strong, but it’s worth every second I assure you.

7) Work, plan, be logical – Going on from the last point, however, it is important that your

Creativity is funnelled down to an idea rather than many ideas that never forward on into action. Creativity is in itself an opposition to organised. The one rolls the eyes at the other. But try. Because behind any creation needs a fuel. Or else the ideas will stay in the notebook; a post-it and nothing more. Quite often this is where collaboration comes in.

8) Don’t make excuses, make time – Time is not an excuse. If you want to create, you have to be dedicated to what you do. For more on how early mornings can help you, see my post on mornings.

9) Be willing to drop things, and accept failure – If something isn’t working, if you’re bored by what you do, drop it now. Creativity isn’t always going to be fun. But if the work feels like work, if you have no ideas; then your heart isn’t in it and it’s not “the one” for right now. No idea is a waste of time, with every idea (even a failed one) is an opportunity to learn. And if you keep it close, there’s always a chance to go back to it when you’re more prepared in later time.

10) Constantly keep your mind moving – How is it that some people are more successful than others? Why are Walt Disney’s movies still watched today? Because they evolve with their audiences minds. When creating, don’t get engulfed by the creations the time provides; see the time as an opportunity; a tool. Because you have something now that people in the fifties hadn’t dreamt of. You have the ability to self-publish, to make a website. The ability to put forward your ideas and to teach and entertain in more ways than ever before.

These are just ten ways that you can broaden your mind in increasing creativity. But remember that wherever your world is, whoever is in that world and whatever that world revolves around there is always something new to see and reflect. Hopefully these tips will help fuel the mind-set that makes you see and think different.

Wrote by Aimee Hall

6 Top Tips For… Being a Good Listener

Written by Aimee Hall

Being a good listener is very important when your striving for success because the world around us is what provides the opportunities, the stepping stones for us to achieve. Whether your just talking to a friend or being interviewed by a future boss, effective communication nearly always ends up with effective results. Take a look at these top tips to see how you can develop a great, quality set of listening skills.

1. Make eye contact. Eye contact is a communication skill that can be used to both captivate an audience and to confirm understanding. It’s easy to show that your connecting with the speaker and not bored by what their saying, if you look directly at them. It also shows confidence and respect. So unless your talking to a Superhero, don’t study the roof when communicating.

2. Nod to confirm your understanding. Make sure that the person speaking knows that they have your full attention. Remember that 93% of communication is non-verbal. By dedicating yourself to the speaker chances are that your quality of conversation will be higher, so it’s important that you remain of the person you are talking with as your own body language. What I’m trying to say is, nod but don’t become a bobble head.

3. Ask the right questions. To get a specific answer start questions with ‘who’ ‘what’ where’ or ‘give me three reasons why…’ If your going into a conversation with a purpose, you may want to consider these questions before hand. Questions are a great way to show that you’re an independent thinker, and one who is willing to learn and develop as a person.

4. Don’t interrupt people. If you take the time to listen to someone, chances are that they will take the time to listen to you too. So, although it’s great to relate to someone, if you over identify (or equally, over contradict) them then they may shut down to you.

5. Don’t be afraid to take notes. If someone has something of value to say, write it down! It’ll not only benefit you by listing your ideas when they’re still fresh in your mind, but it will also make the speaker feel quite valuable to you and more likely to share information to you again.

6) Always know what your listening for. If you go into a conversation needing to know something, then make sure your aware of what that something is. We may listen to learn, to understand, to enjoy or obtain information. Whatever your purpose, keep it in mind.

Most successful people are successful because they listened and learned to the knowledge, mistakes and experiences of other people. When following these tips in day to day life consider the importance of other people in being the best that you can be. Good luck!

8 Top Tips For… Selling Yourself in Interviews

Written by Aimee Hall


Interview Tips

When life provides you with an opportunity it’s important that we go for it. It might be that your asking a publisher to publish your novel, an employer to take you on or a college to give you a place on their enrolment. Whatever you are being interviewed for, you are ultimately asking the interviewer for something. To take a risk on you. The questions they will be asking are to make sure that their risk, their gamble, their chance is the right one. Follow these top tips to ensure that you can sell yourself as the best person for the opportunity…

1. Express your ideas clearly and confidently. Mumbling or using poor grammar in an interview won’t make your interviewer feel sold on what you have to say or offer. Even if you’re feeling quite nervous, try to keep your words loud, crisp, sunny and to the point. It’s also a good idea to plan what your going to say. Don’t rehearse a script word for word, but remember key points that you’ll want to mention so that you don’t go off topic.

2. Be both keen and enthusiastic but avoid being aggressive. Employers, publishers, etc know that the more keen person of the pack is going to do the better job, so ensure that you are positive, approachable and enthusiastic. But avoid being overly friendly or disrespectful too. It’s important that you recognise that you are asking something from the person you are talking too.

3. Be open and honest about yourself. Especially when it comes to explaining your current position or why you feel it’s time to change. Ensure that you never lie or exaggerate things you have done. The truth is that, if you get hired and fall flat in this way, then any weaknesses you have will be more transparent.

4. Be positive in your body language and words. Using positive proactive words and phrases that address the context will make them feel good about investing in what you have to offer. So it’s important that you show that your eager. Sit up straight, smile, keep your posture open and keep eye contact at all times with the person speaking.

5. Beware of using humour in interviews. You are not Jimmy Carr. Unless your applying for a role on Russell Howard’s good news remember that humour can go two ways. Brilliantly or awful. So it’s not worth the risk. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that though. But if the person you are trying to sell yourself to makes a joke, then just grit your teeth and laugh.

6. Show that your listening. Showing that your listening is one of the most important aspects of communicating in an interview. The more respect you show the person talking, the more respect and attention they will factor into what you have to say.

Further Reading: 6 Top Tips For… Being a Good Listener

7. Be willing to try and learn. It’s important that you make it clear that you are willing to start at the bottom of the ladder and work your way up, that the experience means more to you than just a pay check. So it’s great to ask questions. To sound curious and excited by the change.

8. Dress for success. If you want to prove that you can put the effort and the time into your project or work then show it. Look the part. Let the way you are judged when you walk into the room reflect the person you are and what you hope to achieve.

Remember that if you make the effort to sell yourself well, then the employer will make the effort to give you that shot you need to take the next step. Good luck!

Top Tips For… Giving & Receiving Feedback

Written by Aimee Hall


Giving and receiving feedback is one of the most important tools used in any kind of management. It’s also one of the most under-used. Whether your writing a novel, building a website or simply, trying to get a promotion, working with feedback is a great opportunity to bring quality to the work produced and to help you set accurate goals. Whether your giving it out or receiving it yourself, it’s a great opportunity for the target to discover weak spots in their performance and build up confidence in themselves. Feedback can motivate, give guidance to and increase productivity in people when given properly. But just as constructive feedback can help you to learn and improve yourself, un-constructive or poorly given feedback can damage the target. It’s a difficult skill to learn. But it’s a skill well worth the time developing.

When Giving


1. Describe the situation, not the person. A behaviour can be changed, but a personality cannot. To prevent distress or defence, always address the ways in which someone can improve an element that is possible to change. Being sensitive in the impact of your message, is as important as the message itself.

2. Focus on the positive. Always ensure that you are appreciative of the person if the feedback is positive and concerned if it is not. This makes the feedback more sincere and constructive. Chances are the person will listen more and accept it more positively if you deliver it more positively yourself.

3. Provide alternatives. Rather than just listing the problems, form an action plan. Show the person how they can benefit and learn from what you’ve said, ways in which they can improve their performance and behaviour.

4. Be direct. Limit your feedback to key points. It’s to hard to examine multiple issues at once and it can be overwhelming to the person. So always ensure that your feedback has a purpose. By being clear about what you are giving feedback on, you can easily link it to the desired performance outcomes.

When Receiving


1. Listen to it and accept it positively for consideration.

Hearing feedback is a great way to learn about yourself. By considering and acting on it you can gain from other’s experiences and thoughts also, so always try to listen carefully for ways in which you can improve your performance and behaviour. This will aid you in becoming a more valuable person.

2. Assume that it is constructive until proven otherwise.

Take on board any views for consideration, and seek to understand. It’s important that you don’t become over-emotional or defensive towards the speaker.

3. Pause and think before you respond.

Never take feedback personally. Remember that the person giving it, is giving it for a reason so always ensure that you are receiving the feedback at a time when you are calm and un-rushed.

4. Take feedback at face value.

Always ensure that you are receiving feedback from people that you trust and respect. If a statement doesn’t make sense to you, say so and ask for clarification and examples. After all, feedback is a perspective so it’s important to take it at face value.

So let’s put it into practise! Next time your working on something, ask for feedback from someone you can trust. Equally, when managing, ensure that whoever your managing knows exactly what they can do to be the best that they can be. Good luck!

8 Top Tips For… Determination

 Written by Aimee Hall

“Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom”Jim Rohn

Determination is the most powerful essence of human nature. It’s the key ingredient for a mindset that turns plans into ticked boxes. An idea into an achievement. You into your ideal self and life. To be determined is to leave nothing to fate and overcome any barriers that try to get in the way of you becoming and doing the best that you can. Here are five things you can do to bring more determination into you and your life…

1. Keep focused. Identify your optimum conditions for working from experience. At what time of day do you feel most productive and proactive? Do you work best independently? Inside? Outside? Listening to music? Control the area around you to suit. If this means unplugging the wifi, putting up pictures around you or simply putting a bolt on your door do it. To be in a place that channels our focus will ultimately become a place that motivates and inspires you so it’s important to consider where and when you work on the things you do.

2. Play to your strengths. If you bore easily on large projects, divide it into smaller ones. Always remember, when taking on any task, that you are a unique individual. Always aim for the things that you want. For the prizes that you find shiny. After all success means different things to everyone and we only have a limited supply of money, energy and time to invest in things.

3. Remind yourself regularly of the task at hand and its rewards. When you sit down to work, keep breaks strict and create realistic to-do lists. Ensure that you begin the day with a goal and keep a bucket-list nearby to remind you of your purpose throughout the day. Motivation and determination go hand in hand, so never start a project that you see no reward or joy in. When we are positive towards the task in hand, we generally work a lot more efficiently.

4. Manage your time well and keep organised. Stress, negativity and lack of self-confidence can not only affect our health but also, how S.P.I.R.I.T.E.D we are. It’s important to keep our mind refreshed but also clear. The easiest way to do this is by keeping our external life clear too, keeping our belongings organised and avoiding negative or stressful situations that we are unable to take control of e.g learning to say no and making the most of your time.

5. Be ‘selfish’. Always think independently and stick to what you believe in; sometimes you have to be a little bit selfish to get what you want but that’s okay, if your living by your values. Never let anyone say your doing too much because chances are, they are doing too little or they haven’t discovered the fact that a human can reach as far as he wants too; if he wants to.

6. Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn from time to time. If you’ve done something well, seek out and treasure the rewards. You want all the opportunities you can get, so make sure that your name is at the top of the pile when the next opportunity arises by defining yourself as the capable and determined person you are. It’s all very well being humble… but what’s not great when your striving for success is to be overlooked so be prepared to make decisions and talk about your successes.

7. Make clear and defined goals. The steps to achieve and the goal itself must always be clear and make sense to us. If we know exactly what and why we are striving for something it makes it easier for us to be motivated and to take the next step and decision. Anyone with a clear goal, will have a clear and focused train of thought so ensure that you know exactly what you want and how to get there.

8. Learn to see obstacles as stepping stones to get where you need to be. I guarantee that every successful person faced dilemma at some point. But the reason they overcame that dilemma, the reason they changed their life was because they took the steps to change themselves and ignored any doubts they or anybody else had. Being determined is about being positive and constructive about yourself and the future. It’s being focused on anything that you want to do, and not being pushed away from that vision.

The word determination in the dictionary

Being determined can help you climb the career ladder, learn from feedback and get the job done. It’s essentially the difference between a fulfilled person and an unfulfilled person. So in order to be the best that you can be always keep what you have hopefully learnt here in mind and strive for the best.

5 Top Tips For… Inspiration

 Written by Aimee Hall




To be inspired is to have ideas unlike anyone else’s. To consider ideas and solutions in lights that only you can see. Whether you’re an artist, an entrepreneur or a parent, being able to seek beauty and opportunity in the littlest of things will help you to become more positive, imaginative and excited to face the day. Follow my top tips for inspiration to learn how…

1. Record your thoughts. Just like Jim Rohn, it’s a good idea to keep a notebook with you at all times to capture sudden inspirations and thoughts. See something you like? Hear someone moaning about something you think you can solve? Write it down! You can fill it with anything, drawings, photographs… anything that makes you feel motivated and inspired to improve yourself and your life right now, today.

2. Ask yourself where in the world you feel most drawn to. Has there ever been a place that you have always wanted to go, or have been too and never forgotten? When generating ideas imagine that place as vividly as you can. What does it look like? How do you feel when your there? Remember and escape to this place whenever you feel like your idea tap has run dry.

3. Always try to address situations with an open mind. Considering all possibilities in any situation and stepping into other people’s shoes is a great way to become inspired. Inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone, but it won’t find you. You have to go out and look for it. You have to have the drive to want to be inspired too.

4. Make a list of your role models. The people that inspire you are very important in any life. Consider how much you know about them and why they inspired you. I can guarantee that every time you learn something new about their lives or relate yourself to them it feels good doesn’t it? A fuel for your motivation. What qualities did they need to get where they did? How were they S.P.I.R.I.T.E.D to get where they are today? Keep your list handy for times when you’re lacking inspiration.

5. Know when your feeling uninspired. If your unmotivated towards the task in hand or unexcited to face the day take yourself away from the situation. In short term this might mean something as simple as going out for a walk, reading or even just going to a nearby café. In the long term it could mean reconsidering your goals, your job and where you live, redirecting your life. Remember that for your life to change… so must you!

So go out and experience the world. Ensure that everything you see, you see as an opportunity for inspiration and let yourself be curious. Being inspired will always help you to get a unique frame of mind, and hopefully these top tips helped!

Further Reading: Inspiration & Drive

5 Top Tips For… Positivity

Written by Aimee Hall


Being positive is about seeing everything and anything as an opportunity for achievement, gain and success. There will always be times when we are put into a situation that makes being positive difficult but it’s about learning to overcome any barriers because we believe that it’s possible to do so. And why? Because maintaining positive thinking will make it much more likely that you will learn what needs to be learnt for you to succeed. Here are 5 tips on having a positive mindset; pick the ones that work for you!

1. Fake it! Thinking positively makes us feel things are possible, and, because optimism is infectious, if we communicate with a ‘You can” attitude then the person your are speaking to is much more likely to believe it. Using pro-active speech and body language when working with others, such as ‘I will try my best too’ rather than ‘It’s too difficult’, and making eye contact can help us to get the results we want from ourselves and from others. So if your feeling nervous as you hand over your work for feedback, don’t think about it! Smile and sit up straight. Talk about how excited you are for it and think about how much you’ll benefit from the experience.

2. When starting a project, first imagine a successful end result. If your confident in what you do, you will become confident in yourself, so take the time to picture your ideal result; how you’ll feel when you achieve it. Consider also why and how you can be successful from it. It helps to always work on something where you had an initial desire to do so. Being determined and being positive go hand in hand. A focus is great, but a positive focus? That’s unbeatable.

3. Go for it! Enjoy the sweet taste of success and learn from the bitter taste of failure. But never say no to a new opportunity if you think there is a possibility that you can enjoy or learn from it. When you think of the future, anticipate it, don’t dread it. When you think of the past, think of how much better you are from it.

4. Control your surroundings. Look at inspirational books and people. This is just 1 of the many great ways to inspire yourself and help you to focus on something optimistic. Another great way to do this is to hang out with happy people or surround yourself with cheerful, positive images of success. By only letting feelings and people of strength, success and belief in your life, you can learn to neglect any feelings of negativity. To teach yourself to believe that your weaknesses are not only a work in progress, but a future strength.

5. Be grateful. Things won’t always go to plan. But always ensure that, in times when this happens,  you take time out of your day to consider all that you are thankful for, all that you have achieved. Remember that you are brilliant and there is no-one out there like you. Use what you have to the best of your abilities and be the best that you can be.

Believing you can do something is the first step towards achieving. If you know you can reach that far, if you can see that you want to reach that far, you will be more determined to do so. So always ensure that you remember that you are in control of your emotions, how you feel towards your action plan, and that it’s not the other way around.

Related: Frame of Mind