My coworker told me a wonderful story about how friends of hers reduce the "toy glut" resulting from too-many gifts to your kid at Christmas:
The kids would get to open all their presents Christmas morning, and for the rest of the day could play as much as they wanted with all of them.
But the day after, the kids would have to divide up their loot in two piles, one that would stay out and get actively used, and one that would go into the "July Box". Each kid had a July Box, and would get to decide which toys wouldn't be seen for 6 months.
Yup. Half the toys went into the July Box, and the box went up into the attic. Then on July 4, at the family celebration, the July Box would come down and the kids would get all these "new" toys. Of course by then they had forgotten about what was in there, so the experience was still as new and exciting as on Christmas morning.
I think this is a wonderful idea. Gives a whole new meaning to "Boxing Day".
Richard Kuo blogs about his quest for greater personal efficiency with an ode to listening to audiobooks in the car:
I totally subscribe to this idea too, although I must admit I've been lax in listening to self-edifying books.
Instead I've listenened to, variously, satirical crime humor, cheesy action adventure, and somewhat-historical but really a good buddy movie swords and cannons novels.
Now that I'm finishing up Hiassen's Basket Case, maybe I'll try to get something that's educational this time. Or maybe not.
The latest Computerworld has a great article on ways to improve your critical thinking skills.
Five Steps to More Critical Thinking by Gary Shea
I especially liked the sidebar, titled More Thinklets, which gave quick techniques for kickstarting your mental engine. Some gems:
Consider the problem, project or idea. In five minutes, writing as quickly as you can, answer questions like, "What do I want to do?" and "What will this be like when it is done?" No pauses! This technique brings information from the subconscious to the surface.
The author also includes the usual SWOT analysis and a Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi-esque "High Performance View":
Have you ever been "in the groove," where everything is humming along and the productivity is high? What did it take? Think of how to create an environment that supports it.
The author also includes a faceted analysis, which is really just TRIZ (article on TRIZ from this blog's archives):
Get down to basics: size, weight, color, duration, strength. This is useful for product improvements and can also lead to other kinds of insights.
All in all, it's good to keep such quickies in your mental toolchest for those gnarly problems that keep coming up.