3 Ways to Beat the Monday Morning Blues

Image Credit:  Sudarshan Srinivasan, Chakraascope

Image Credit: Sudarshan Srinivasan, Chakraascope

blue Monday (noun) – a Monday regarded as a depressing workday in contrast to the pleasant relaxation of the weekend (dictionary.com)

Do you ever experience the Monday morning blues? While the prevailing definition seems to be about the contrast of the first workday of the week (Monday) versus the relaxation experienced over the weekend, the Monday morning blues can also be about other things as well, such as facing a long ‘to-do’ list for the week and feeling overwhelmed or simply feeling tired. Here are 3 ways you can beat the Monday morning blues and ensure that you have a good jump-start on your work week:

1 – Get a good night’s rest on the weekends too

It’s easy to get off-kilter over the weekend just because you can. Stay up late watching movies and then sleeping in late or taking naps in the afternoon over the weekend is a sure-fire way to get out of sync for the workweek. Sticking to the same schedule, regardless of the day of the week, will help you feel more rested and energized throughout the week. Plus, the bonus is, if you get up early on the weekends too, you’ll have more weekend time to get things done or enjoy your time!

2 – Spend ‘quiet time’ every morning

Before you jump right into work and your long ‘to-do’ list, why not spend a few minutes of quiet time first? Grab a cup of coffee and sit out on your front porch, or wherever your best ‘quiet time’ place is. Before you read the newspaper, before you go to the gym, before you do anything really. Just a few minutes of quiet time to center yourself and collect your thoughts before you start the day. Call it ‘quiet time’ discipline, and use it however you like – to meditate, journal, or simply listen to the birds greet the morning. In our fast-paced lives, where 80% of the world’s data was created in the last two years, and people are acquiring cellphones at a pace 5 times faster than the growth of the human race, when do we take the time to stop and smell the roses? It’s important.

3 – Prioritize your ‘to-do’ list

One thing about Monday mornings is that you are facing a whole week’s worth of a ‘to-do’ list, or things that you really feel like you need to accomplish. Even if you haven’t written it down, you generally have an idea of what you think you need to accomplish this week, and it can be overwhelming.  Also, since your list might be really long, your Monday Morning Blues may also be taking into account that you won’t really have any breaks that week as you try to slug your way through that long list.  So take a few minutes to prioritize that list and lay out the most important goals you need to accomplish for the week.  That way, you will not only feel energized by the direction you’ve layed out for the week, but you will also feel great as you check off each item on the list.  Plus, as a bonus, since you are clear about accomplishing your major goals for the week, you will feel much better about taking small breaks throughout the week also, which will help to re-energize your thinking and creativity as well.

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- By Julie Yamamoto

IBM and Space Flight: What’s Next for Billions of Earth-Like Planets in the Galaxy?

Missions of the future?  (Photo Credit:  IBM 100)

Missions of the future?  (Photo Credit: IBM 100)

A new analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft by Erik Petigura has revealed that there could be billions of habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy.  According to Mr. Petigura’s paper, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one out of every five sunlike stars in the galaxy has a planet roughly the size of Earth flying in orbits around those suns – at distances that make temperatures on the planet neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist.

The Space Shuttle Columbia’s launch on April 12, 1981, with five IBM computers, marked humanity’s first reusable spacecraft and the beginning the US Space Shuttle Program.  (Photo Credit:  IBM 100)

The Space Shuttle Columbia’s launch on April 12, 1981, with five IBM computers, marked humanity’s first reusable spacecraft and the beginning the US Space Shuttle Program. (Photo Credit: IBM 100)

So what’s next in space exploration?  Some scientists speculate that a permanent residence on the Moon would be the next logical step. Others predict a human mission to Mars will be feasible by the mid-21st century. Whatever the task at hand, technology companies like IBM and others will be there to lend their technological know-how and scientific expertise to help explore the boundaries of what’s possible.

For many millions of people around the world, the most dramatic moment in the history of space flight was the first lunar landing 35 years ago. Of course, the journey to the Moon began long before Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle onto the Sea of Tranquility, and it was built on a series of accumulating achievements over many years. IBM was involved both at the beginning of that journey and throughout. And in the three decades following the July 1969 Apollo 11 mission, IBM continued to play an important role in mankind’s exploration of the high frontier and in the increasing use of space for science, communications and business.

Did you know that IBM’s involvement with the US space program began even before NASA existed?  In fact, IBM developed computers for NASA’s predecessor, the US National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. IBM was involved in the Apollo program from the beginning. And in the three decades following the July 1969 Apollo 11 mission, IBM continued to play an important role in humankind’s exploration of the high frontier—helping advance science, communications and business.  Learn more

(Video description):  A global collaboration of 19 countries, the SKA will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever built. The SKA will revolutionize humankind’s understanding of the cosmos by answering questions about the origin and evolution of the universe, as well as other mysteries of time and space. It will consist of thousands of receptors stretched across an area the size of a continent—the total collecting area of these receptors combined will be approximately one square kilometer. IBM is working to map and model the complex ecosystem of capabilities that will be required to build the SKA.

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- Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager, The Greater IBM Connection

IBM Computer Creativity: 3 Things You Never Knew – Movies, Cooking, Books

Image Credit:  Lord of the Rings movie trilogy

Image Credit: Lord of the Rings movie trilogy

This is Part 2 of the IBM Creativity Series – Part 1 covered 3 Things You Never Knew About IBM Creativity – Games, Art, and Music. This post will cover 3 things you never knew about IBM computer creativity.

In addition to IBM driving innovation and creativity for 102 years, as IBM CEO Ginni Rometty recently shared, IBM computers have also long been used to help spur the creative process.  Here are few of the more notable examples of how IBM computers and technology played a critical part in the creative process.

Category 1 (Movies):  

Lord of The Rings Trilogy:  IBM supplied digital effects facility Weta Digital, Ltd., with 150 IBM® IntelliStation® workstations, running Linux®, for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Weta created effects, from digital horses to Gollum, a character in the series.  Weta and its sister company, Weta Workshop, won two Oscars for their digital effects work on the first “Lord of The Rings” trilogy.  To learn more:

Image Credit:  IMDb

Image Credit: IMDb

Despicable Me:  IBM provided an iDataPlex system to Illumination Entertainment to help it meet the massive production requirements involved in creating the computer-animated 3-D feature film, “Despicable Me”, released in 2010.  The animation process to produce the film generated 142 terabytes of data — an amount roughly equivalent to the traffic generated by over 118 million active MySpace users or 250,000 streams of 25 million songs.  The iDataPlex solution also included a water-cooled door that allows the system to run with no air conditioning required, saving up to 40% of the power used in typical server configurations for this type of production process.  To learn more:

Image Credit:  Fast Company (Italian grilled lobster, with a complex set of pairings including salt, pepper, saffron, green olives, tomato, pumpkin, mint, oregano, white wine, water, macaroni, orange juice, orange, bacon, and oil. )

Image Credit: Fast Company (Italian grilled lobster, with a complex set of pairings including salt, pepper, saffron, green olives, tomato, pumpkin, mint, oregano, white wine, water, macaroni, orange juice, orange, bacon, and oil. )

Category 2 (Cooking):  When you think of the creative things that humans do, cooking comes to mind as one creative outlet that appeals to many.  After winning at chess and Jeopardy, taking on large databases of information to cook up something creative for dinner seems like a logical step.  After all, while most chefs may only consider pairings of hundreds of different ingredients for the evening meal, there are probably unlimited possibilities of pairings that might taste good.  So, the IBM flavorbot is looking to put together underrated highly flavorful ingredients, unusual but tasty flavor pairings, and bring them all together into whole recipes.  To generate leads, the flavorbot looks at three databases of information – recipe index, hedonic psychophysics (quantification of what flavors people like at the molecular level), and chemoinformatics (connecting what foods the molecular flavor is actually in).  To learn more, see the links below:

Category 3 (Books):  Ever heard of “Abechamycin”?  It’s not a new antibiotic….but it may be one day.  At Pfizer in 1956, an IBM 702 helped create a 198-page, 42,000 word book of potential chemical names as a way of spurring and accelerating the naming process for the many new drugs the firm introduced on an annual basis.  Learn more.

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- By Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager, The Greater IBM Connection, and Paul Lasewicz, IBM Corporate Archivist

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The October 2013 theme for The Greater IBM Connection is ”creativity and innovation”, and The Greater IBM Connection will be sharing various tips, tools, and resources on this topic.

Coffee Personality: What Does Your Favorite Coffee Say About You? (Infographic)

Graphic Credit:  Johnny Self, GSU

Graphic Credit: Johnny Self, GSU

Clinical psychologist Dr Ramani Durvasula recently conducted a study of 1,000 coffee drinkers and assessed a number of common personality styles and psychological traits.  The study found that people who drink certain types of coffee share common attributes such as introversion and extroversion; patience; perfectionism; warmth; vigilance; sensitivity; and social boldness, among others.  For example, if you drink your coffee black, you might be quiet and moody, while if you drink iced coffees or frappucinos, you might be a trendsetter.  To learn more, check out some of the infographics and articles below.

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- Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager, The Greater IBM Connection

How To Tweet Chat

Graphic Credit:  The Author's Lounge

Graphic Credit: The Author’s Lounge

In a previous post, we talked about the question of WHY you might want to tweet chat (the value of tweet chats).  This post will be about HOW to tweet chat.  Tweet chats that are well-organized will typically provide a ‘preview’ page two to four weeks prior to the event that will outline the topic, what questions will be asked during the tweet chat, and an introduction to the panelists.  While not all tweet chats use this format, for the ones that do, it’s a good idea to visit this preview page often prior to the event to become familiar with the topic and think about what additional questions you may like to ask or what views you would like to share.  When you participate in a tweet chat, it’s really your opportunity to network, so it’s a good idea to spend time preparing to have some intelligent thoughts ready for the event!

So here are the basic steps on how to participate in a tweet chat:

1.  Setup and learn the basics of Twitter

If you don’t already have a Twitter account, then you need to spend some time setting your account up and learning the basics of how Twitter works – in particular, how hashtags work and effective ways to express your thoughts in a 140 character limit.  Here are some great resources to help you get started:

2.  Prepare for the Tweet Chat
If this will be your first Tweet Chat, you may be content to just participate in a ‘listen-only’ or observation mode to learn more about the topic.  If so, there’s not a lot of pre-event preparation you need to do other than Step 1 noted above.  However, if you do have some insights or views you’d like to share, or additional questions you’d like to raise, then it would be a good idea to spend some time before the event preparing.  Read through the preview materials (if provided by the Tweet Chat host) and think about what you would like to share or ask.  Tweet Chats frequently follow a structured question/answer type format, where the chat moderators will post each question, and chat panelists (and participants) will respond following this format (see below).  So, as you prepare your tweets to get ready for the event, be sure to include this format if it’s directly related to one of the chat questions.  If you have a viewpoint or question that is related to the topic but not related specifically to any of the questions, then you would not include the ‘A1′ in your tweet.
  • @chathost: “Q1: What’s your favorite color? #hashtag”
  • @chatparticipant: “A1: Blue! #hashtag”
3.  Participate in the Tweet Chat
While there are several ways to participate in Tweet Chats, Twubs is one web-based tool that makes it easy to participate and follow the chat.  For this example, we are using the People for a Smarter Planet tweet chat hashtag, but it would work the same for any other tweetchat.  You would just replace the #P4SPchat with the appropriate tweet chat hashtag, such as #cloudchat or #IBMSWChat.  Here’s how it works:
  • (a) About 10 minutes prior to the start time, go to Twubs at http://www.twubs.com
  • (b) Type in the hashtag of the Tweet Chat (e.g. #P4SPChat)
chat1
  • (c) Click ‘login’ in the upper right corner
chat2
  • (d) Login with your Twitter credentials

chat3

  • (e) After logging in, make sure you are in the right Tweet Chat (left circle) and are showing as logged in (right circle)

chat4

  • (f) You are ready to participate in the Tweet Chat!  You can use the Twubs chat window as shown below to post your tweets – it will automatically populate the Tweet Chat hashtag for you.

chat5

  • (g) If you want to reply to an individual in the chat or re-tweet them, you can use the appropriate buttons as shown below.

chat6

That’s it!  You may also want to follow-up after the Tweet Chat to see if the host posts a chat summary of the event.

6 Ways To NOT Be Creative

Graphic credit:  Braid Creative

Graphic credit: Braid Creative

‘Uncreative’ – not having or involving imagination or original ideas

Everyone is creative, but maybe not all the time.  And every team and company has the potential of being remarkably innovative and creative, but may not always achieve that lofty goal.  Why not?  There are a lot of things that inhibit our potential to be creative and original.  Even the most committed ‘creatives’ may run into these obstacles from time to time, so it’s probably helpful to know what to avoid if you want to stay on a path of creativity and innovation.  So here are six ways to be uncreative and non-innovative.

1.  Have computer problems…anytime

I actually got the idea for this post over the weekend, and was looking forward to writing it up on Monday morning as I didn’t have a meeting scheduled until 11am.  However, lo and behold, since my computer had been shut down and sleeping for the past week (as I was on vacation), it decided to be ornery when I woke it up on Monday morning.  Nothing major, but enough of a hassle that I spent most of the morning calling the help desk, re-installing software, and re-booting my machine.  Needless to say, my time for a creative post was shot.  Any device that you may use for your creativity would be included here, so that may include mobile devices, network, etc.  Whatever time you may have set aside to work on something creative can easily be eaten up by dealing with computer problems.

2.  Never walk away from the screens

family

Graphic Credit: Russ Adcox

However, staying on the screens all the time is also a good way to be uncreative.  Note that I got my idea for this post over the weekend, when I was AWAY from the screens.  While there are a lot of really creative things you can do on the screens, particularly with all the innovative mobile apps that are available these days, a critical part of original thinking is to let your brain actually step away from focusing on the topic or problem at hand, so there can be connections made while you focus on something else…the proverbial light-bulb going off while you are walking in the park or riding a bike or doing something else.  If you’ve ever read Julia Cameron’s book, ‘The Artist’s Way’, each week focuses on a different aspect of nurturing creativity, and one of the weekly exercises she has you do is refrain from ALL external entertainment, which would include screens (televisions, computers, mobile devices), as well as reading newspapers, magazines, etc.  The idea is, you gain both creative time and fresh perspective if you refrain from wasting it on external entertainment – ah, instead of reading a novel or watching the latest Ted Talk on YouTube, perhaps you are creating your own instead.  So, to avoid being original like that, just stay on the screens!

3. ‘Eat that frog’….all the time

Graphic credit:  Brian Tracy

Graphic credit: Brian Tracy

Related to the above idea, if you focus on your task list all the time, that’s another good way to kill creativity.  And, if you are like most people, your task list may be endless.  You may have heard of the book by Brian Tracy called ‘Eat That Frog – 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating’.  The basic idea is that you try to do ‘least desired’ task or job first (aka ‘the frog’) so that the rest of your day can be ‘play time’.  While this is a great idea for getting those ‘ugh’ tasks crossed off the list, since the ‘frog’ task list could go on forever, it could also eat up all your creative time as well.  So, if you want to stop procrastinating and also stop being creative, just ‘eat that frog’ all the time!

4.  Keep it complicated!

Somewhat related to the ‘Eat That Frog’, if you over-analyze and avoid simplicity, that’s another good way to be UNCREATIVE.  Second-guessing yourself or over-thinking your idea is a good way to make it boring and lead you nowhere.  I once remember a project where I was working with several different work-streams who were responsible for managing their own work-streams.  Since this was early in my career when I still needed to ‘prove’ myself as a project manager, I was determined to make sure that every single task was in the plan.  After spending a few evenings trying to update and deal with a project plan that had more than a thousand line items in it, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the lesson of simplicity I learned.  There’s a quote by Charles Mingus that says ‘making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.’  So, keep it complicated to NOT be creative!

5.  Stay in a rut!….every day

Stuck-in-a-Rut

Graphic Credit: Brookhill Women’s Blog

This is a great way to not be creative and stunt innovation – do the same thing, the same way, in the same place….all the time.  Since creativity involves a great deal of ‘thinking outside the box’, it requires a good regular dose of changing your perspective to gain new insights or new ways of thinking about things.  If you don’t ever break out of the mold of your regular routines or intentionally try to experience new things, it will be very difficult to gain ‘freshness’ in your thinking to innovate or be creative.  Sometimes it can be as simple as changing your location, like taking a walk outside, and sometimes it takes more conscious effort, like trying something you’ve never done before, talking to people you wouldn’t normally interact with, or attending an event you wouldn’t normally participate in.  So, if you don’t want to be original, just avoid all that and stay in your comfort zone!

6.  Listen to the critic – don’t be yourself!

Graphic Credit:  HarroJapan Blog

Graphic Credit: HarroJapan Blog

Last, but certainly not least is this gem – don’t be authentic.  You know the famous commercial that talks about ‘Think Different’?  Well, it’s never a popular thing to be non-comformist.  In Japan, there is a saying that goes like this -  “出る杭は打たれる。 Deru kui wa utareru.”, which translates to ‘the protruding stake (or nail) will be hammered down’.  In other words, if you stand out or do not conform, you will be criticized.  That is usually the case with the great creatives and innovative thinkers of this world – they experience a great deal of criticism and non-acceptance.  In the face of that type of criticism, it’s usually a lot easier to simply conform to what ‘everyone else’ is doing or thinking and just follow along.  Quite frequently, before we even reach that level of putting our ideas out there for external criticism, we have already encountered the ‘anti-creative survival mechanism’ built-in to each of us.  This mechanism is known as the ‘inner critic’, and it’s usually quite adept at keeping us very well-disconnected from our own inner voice out of fear.  You know the voice….it’s always telling you that you’re not good enough, creative enough, innovative enough, or everyone else is better or more original or more something, so why bother?  So, this is may be the best way to be un-creative – just keep listening to that critic and don’t be yourself!

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Related:

- By Julie Yamamoto

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The October 2013 theme for The Greater IBM Connection is ”creativity and innovation”, and The Greater IBM Connection, and contributing blog authors, will be sharing various tips, tools, and resources on this topic.

Do You Know the IBM Blue? Play Name That Blue

tumblr_muii6mg6G61s141c3o1_r1_500

Graphic from IBMlr

Several companies use blue as part of their brand.  Do you know which is the IBM blue? Play Name that Blue (via Fast Company) – from IBMblr

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–Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager, The Greater IBM Connection

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The October 2013 theme for The Greater IBM Connection is ”creativity and innovation”, and The Greater IBM Connection will be sharing various tips, tools, and resources on this topic.

Coffee, Conversations and Commerce with IBM Midsize Business

IBM-globe-foam-art_thumb

IBM Midsize Business: IBM Coffee + Conversation

How often have you met a colleague to discuss something related to work over a cup of coffee?  There’s something about a coffee shop that seems conducive to business, networking, and understanding complex subjects – it seems more personal and approachable.  In this video series, IBM Midsize Business shares some coffee house conversations on business topics pertinent to mid-size businesses, such as cloud, social business, mobile, and analytics.  Learn more at Midsize Insider:  Coffee, Conversations, and Commerce.

About Midsize Insider

Midsize Insider is a valuable repository of expert content tailored for small-to-midsized business owners and IT decision makers. Expert insights and perspectives in the Midsize Insider are gleaned from actionable business experiences and will assist readers in creating efficiencies, cutting costs and delivering results.

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- By Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager, The Greater IBM Connection

3 Things You Never Knew About IBM Creativity – Games, Art, and Music

smarter ideaIn IBM’s 2010 Global CEO study of over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries, creativity was touted as being the most important leadership quality for success, outweighing even integrity and global thinking.

So how much creativity and innovation can the world’s 13th largest employer inspire?  Apparently, quite a lot, as the following list shows.  So here is today’s list of cool things you never knew about IBM creativity, focusing on Games, Art, and Music.

1. IBM and Serious Games

You may have heard of Zynga when it comes to games, but did you know that FastCompany listed IBM as one of the Top 10 Companies in Gaming due to our work in serious games?  IBM has been investing in serious games since 2000 and has made advances in performing key research, prototypes, and/or complete games in these five areas – technical training, leadership skill-building, marketing, talent on-boarding, and productivity building.  Watch the trailer below and learn more about IBM and Serious Games here.

2. IBM and Art

Image credit:  Hermitage Museum

Image credit: Hermitage Museum

Of course, there is a lot of very creative IBM advertising art to be found as the quick list below shows.  But there are a number of other ways that IBM has had a connection to art.  For example, in 1997, IBM built the online Hermitage Museum for Hermitage in Russia which was touted as the “World’s Best Online Museum” by National Geographic Traveler.   IBM was also a major collaborator on the Eternal Egypt project and website, with the goal of bringing to light more than 5000 years of Egyptian civilization to help preserve it for tourists, students and scholars.  More recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York worked with IBM to install a wireless sensor network to help preserve the works of art in its world-renowned, encyclopedic collection.  Works of art are very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, relative humidity, and other environmental conditions.  IBM’s sensor network is enabling the museum’s scientists to monitor and analyze the reaction of art objects to environmental changes that will help them to develop predictive models for art preservation more accurately.  Learn more about IBM and art here.

Other IBM Art Related

3. IBM and Music

IBM Orchestra in 1944 - courtesy of IBM Archives

IBM Orchestra in 1944 – courtesy of IBM Archives

IBM has a long history with music.  Did you know that there was even an official company song book, published in the 1930s, called Songs of the IBM?  It started in the earliest years of the company’s history with a 32 member employee band, which was followed by a variety of other employee musical groups — an orchestra, singing groups for men, for women, for men and women, even for children.  Soon, singing and instrumental performances spread to other IBM sites and groups, and many IBM meetings would start with employees singing various “fellowship songs”, such as “Ever Onward” (the IBM rally song).  However, IBM’s connection to music was just not limited to employee musical groups.  Much like IBM’s modern-day creativity often manifests itself in the form of leveraging technology to create something very cool like the world’s smallest movie made from atoms, there were early creative efforts to create music from mainframes as the stories below show.  Learn more about IBM and music here.

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Related:

- By Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager, The Greater IBM Connection

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The October 2013 theme for The Greater IBM Connection is ”creativity and innovation”, and The Greater IBM Connection will be sharing various tips, tools, and resources on this topic.

Light-hearted Introduction to Cloud Computing

Watch this cartoon video for a light-hearted introduction to the concept of cloud computing and what’s possible when IT systems are dynamic and smarter.

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Video courtesy of IBM Smarter Planet Australia/New Zealand:

- Posted by Julie Yamamoto, Program Manager The Greater IBM Connection