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Roundup: Boosting Creativity, Content is Still King, and Knitting (Yes, Knitting)

Things That Caught My Eye Recently


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Boost Your Creativity: Well, this article gives me permission to knit AND to daydream--win/win!


The Power of a Nap: And now naps on top of knitting? This quote is particularly insightful: "It seems that the more that I learn about creativity, the more I discover that attempts to increase creativity are almost entirely dependent on the idea of taking breaks, doing something different, going outside or sleeping well. Almost always, the most effective way to get an idea is to step away from the desk and stop trying desperately to have an idea."


Avoid Self-Sabotaging Your Content Marketing: "Instead, take the time to create compelling content — even if it’s just weekly. It’s always better to focus on quantity over quality." Some really good tips here about what to avoid in your efforts to craft good content.


Storytelling in Medicine: "As healers, we have a commitment to improve the human condition. That should go beyond throughput, ordering tests and writing prescriptions. It should be about connecting with humankind, understanding their journeys and developing both cultural awareness and humility. We should lead with our heart. After all, that should be the connect to purpose for all of us." An interesting perspective on the role of storytelling in medicine.


"Eight Hugs A Day": This TED Talk about the connection between oxytocin and trust and morality is absolutely fascinating. (Note that there is some criticism under the video, but I still found the premise interesting and worth thinking through.)


Content Marketing and Good Conversation: This piece offers a great breakdown of how different content connects with different stages of the sales cycle. I thought this quote especially insightful: "[M]arketing teams get bored with their content much faster than their audience does, so continually repackaging and redistributing content is crucial. The goal of content marketing is to engage your audience — and the best conversations always do."


When Does Creativity Peak?: I found this article rather intriguing, but it leaves me with questions... For example, how do life events affect creativity? And one Facebook friend pointed out that skill increases with practice and age, which makes me wonder if increasing skill just means that the execution of creativity improves with age.


Keeping Up with the Content Joneses: Some good advice in this piece. Takeaway quote: "'Meet your audience where they are and give them what they didn’t realize they needed.'"



Speaking of Knitting...


I have always loved my handicrafts. I have, at various times in my life, pursued sewing, crocheting, cross-stitching, embroidery, and even latch hook. But though I have knitted since I was very young, it's only been in the last few years that I've truly embraced it as my "go to" craft.

The benefits of knitting are well-documented. It lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, increases cognitive function, and tends to result in warm, pretty things that people love to receive. I find knitting less socially isolating than reading; when I have to sit somewhere and wait for someone, if I'm knitting, I can still talk to people. Hard to do when reading!


Perhaps the biggest benefit I get from knitting is the anxiety relief and creativity boost. If I'm stuck on a writing project, knitting usually greases the creativity wheels, and I'll be back on track in no time. If I'm feeling anxious and restless, knitting gives my hands something to do, and my heart rate will drop and I'll feel better in no time.


I've knitted baby hats for the local crisis pregnancy center and baby blankets for family babies and mitts, hats, scarves, and other random items for friends and family. These days, I mostly knit hats and mitts because they're small, easily transportable, quick projects. But I do not rule out knitting blankets in the near future, especially if I know of impending births (or if the temps keep dropping around here!).


As a freelancer, I feel like I'm just a bit outside the modern office most of the time. From the outside looking in, one of the trends I see is a move toward embracing the whole person as an employee. In the past, we had work life and home life, and rarely (if ever) did the two collide.


But such a view misses the important perspective of a person as a whole being--one who might need to just knit a few rows to let her brain sift a few problems or go for a short run to clear the head or pet some dogs or cats to reduce a little anxiety.


So if you see me knitting when I should be writing, rest assured that there's a purpose behind it, and that the end result will probably be some pretty good copy...


... and maybe a lovely hat as well.



Updates


* An article of mine appeared over on the Mind Tools blog. You can read all about how to switch off from work (and on, when necessary) here.

* ... And I had a piece go up at the Jama Software blog about how good design critique processes foster innovation and collaboration.


See you next week with part four of my "7 Mistakes" series!



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