Tag Archives: productivity

Watch Kermit the Frog Explain How to Tap Into Everyday Creativity

We often assume that creativity is something only artists need. However, as notable artist, producer, and amphibian Kermit the Frog explains, keeping your mind open to accept and play with different ideas can improve anyone’s work.

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Alma’s to go box:
This is the third post in the last few months that has focused on creativity. What they all have in common is the premise that everyone has the capacity to be creative. The first, on the myths surrounding creativity, visits the all-too-celebrated image of the lone creative genius. The second, on the connections between distraction and creative genius expands on the benefits of productive distraction.

This TEDx talk by Kermit the Frog includes a lot of the same refrains, that creativity is within everyone’s grasp. And most of us who don’t profess a creative side, still have one. Within the first five minutes, Kermit cites a ‘conspiracy of craziness’ that enables a theater of people (and many more online) to sit and listen to a frog talk about creativity. What is suspension of disbelief, other than an extension of creativity?

Watch the whole 25 minute video, and if you have more time after that, do some research about Jim Henson and the development of the Muppets.

EdX, Udemy, Duolingo, online learning!

Hello!! It’s a great day to learn something new.

In this showcase post, I’m going to talk about some online learning services I have been using over the past five(ish) months. If you’ve never heard of these three services, the summer is a great time to pick up a new skill or now.

EdX (www.edx.org)

  • Free (more for ID Verified Certificates)
  • Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more.
  • Self-Paced or with Set Open/Close Dates.
  • Honor Code Certificates, ID Verified Certificates
  • iPhone, Android apps support video downloads for offline viewing

EdX is one of the large-scale providers of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Aside from being founded by MIT and Harvard, they have partnerships with a huge sampling of international schools. Most courses fall within Humanities, Math and Computer Science, but there is a delightful sampling of other courses. Some are timed (with specific open and close dates), others are completely self-paced, so you can pick what fits for you.

Immediately after signing up on their website, I attempted two timed courses (and failed after being distracted). I tried a timed course again with a course in Winemaking and completed it (with a 94%, I might add). I’m now in a course by the Smithsonian about the Comic Book SuperHero through History.

Overall, EdX is great for its options and for the prestige of its contributors. I can foresee employers viewing this site as a source for professional development.

Udemy (www.udemy.com)

  • Varies (free to $200+, but sales are frequent)
  • Development, Test Prep, Business, Marketing, Lifestyle, Photography, Music, Academics, Language, Design, Productivity, IT & Software, Health & Fitness
  • Self-Paced, no open/close dates
  • Certificates at the completion of each course
  • iPhone, Android apps support video downloads for offline viewing

Udemy is a good point of entry for most people who are interested in some online learning. The courses are more lifestyle-based or skill-centric, and there are no limits to the start or end dates, you can repeat lessons or jump around as you want. There are no assessments for these courses, which makes sense given some of the topics. Still, there are a great number of instructors who are highly available to their students, encouraging use of discussion boards, or connection through other networks for engagement.

I’ve gone through a lot of these classes, on a wide array of topics. From baking artisanal breads, to animating text in After Effects, to tips to establishing a daily yoga practice. While there was a range in quality for video and audio (from good to exemplary), all of the instructors were engaging and clear and I walked away with a skillset I didn’t have before.

Udemy also has a program to make it easy for people to create and instruct their own courses. So you can participate in both sides of the online learning experience.

Duolingo (www.duolingo.com)

  • Free (English Certificates are an extra cost)
  • Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Irish, Swedish, Danish, Ukranian, Esperanto, Klingon (and more) for English speakers. More languages (and English) for other language speakers.
  • Lessons involve picture matching, word selection, transcription and translation
  • You can complete levels of languages, earning “Lingots” along the way to unlock other features. English certification is available for a nominal price.
  • iPhone, Android apps support all functions

Duolingo is all about language learning. You get to start with very basic sentences, then as you progress through activities, you build more complex constructions. Low-key activities take minutes to complete.

I’m using Duolingo to brush up on French (untouched since high school) and learn Spanish. The activities are not to pedantic for either of these goals. I even have a set goal per day for practice. It’s an excellent diversion during my commute (which does not involve driving). The one shortcoming is possibly on the part of cultural interactions with languages, situations where words technically mean one thing, but a culture of speakers have given it a colloquial meaning which isn’t accounted for.

While there isn’t offline support, the Duolingo app is seamless across devices and the web interface.

10 Kinds of Content to Keep Your Blog Posts Funky Fresh

Sometimes it’s tough to get fresh content up on your blog week after week. Even the most inspired writers will hit a wall every now and again. But not all your blog posts have to be brilliant, lengthy essays. You can be an effective blogger and spend less than 15 minutes writing each post!

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Alma’s to-go box:
There are times when I’ve neglected this blog…I won’t get anywhere by hiding this. I’ve also had times when I just haven’t read many articles to post…

The mission of 6th Floor Studios is still fluid, so there will hopefully be opportunities to grow this blog in to something other than a collection of Reading Lists, showcases. Of course, I’m still the sole member of the cast-of-authors, so things will get much more interesting as more brains come together.

Goals: By the end of 2015!!!!

  • Add two additional regular authors with Reading Lists
  • Post at least two original posts for “Showcase” each month

The Story Behind the Storyboard

I’m a media person. That’s what I do, both for fun and for work. I know storyboards and I’ve made them for nearly ten years. What is a storyboard though? It’s a bunch of sketches or drawings tied together with dialogue in a way that illustrates the visual flow of some piece of audiovisual work that changes over time.

The value of the storyboard is in that proof-of-concept, seeing is believing nature of it. Any time your linking two things that can’t be co-demonstrated, a storyboard component could help. Audio and video are just the most obvious example, but wireframes and interactivity are also becoming more prevalent.


Filmmakers on Location. Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read.
Filmmakers on Location. Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read.

Film Before the Storyboard
Surprisingly enough, the storyboard comes long after the beginnings of film studios. Even though film is rather costly and can’t be reused, there was no standard practice to produce a visual proof-of-concept before starting to roll. Continue reading The Story Behind the Storyboard

50 Websites to Waste Your Time On


An Internet version of the hiding game Hot and Cold. A useless site that generates even more useless sites to waste your time.

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Alma’s to-go box:
We’ve all been caught in the dreaded place of creative block, and these sites include many that I have spent hours using: DuoLingo, Qwiki, Sporcle, Free Rice, Da Font, Instructables and more…

From quizzes and challenges to stretchy hands you can fling around your browser. The internet is a great place, huh?

Understand Creative Commons Licensing With This Chart

Creative Commons is an ideal way to share your creations with others and find art for personal projects. Some of us, though, don’t always understand the rules. This chart helps you understand the key differences among licenses.

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I first became aware of Creative Commons five years ago when I first heard the term “pod-safe” music. As outdated as that term sounds now, it illustrates the balancing act of copyright and use. Creative Commons protects artists’ works, while keeping them very accessible to intermediate users (like podcasters and bloggers) who want media to accompany what they publish. It also takes the burden off of artists who would otherwise have to dedicate resources to addressing use requests.

The Odd Work-Break Ratio That’s Great for Productivity

Everyone has that person in the office. You know, the one who always seems to get way more done than everybody else, but who never seems stressed or frantically trying to finish an assignment. How does he or she get it done? And can you steal those secrets to improve your own productivity? Yes.

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Alma’s to-go box
I’m not going to say that I take breaks a lot at work. I do find myself switching tabs in my browser in between tasks and finding for industry news, articles to add to my Pocket (like this) and some current events. It’s good to have an article to edify my meandering habits, but it even seems that I should be doing things more completely.

Good bye. multi-tasking, I guess I thought it’s been better than it has been!

No Time to Think

ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore.

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Alma’s to go box:
“Busy” is toxic. It ruins things like relationships and health. Full stop. When I’m busy, I feel horrid. I make bad food and exercise choices (respectively, junk and none). Left to be busy long enough, I exhaust everything in me and then I start running on fumes, just not pretty. Then, of course, the times when I’m not busy…but someone else is, and thinks that you should be too. While the impact isn’t so physical, it definitely can include bruised relationships, judgement, doubts and resentment.

I am not a fan of busy. I don’t like the expectation that I’m busy either. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t I be able to reap some (guilt free) rewards for good planning and prioritization?

Slow down, y’all!

How to Work With People Who Are Smarter Than You

Smarter than You?

It’s entrepreneurship gospel—hire those who are smarter than you. There’s no mystery to this wisdom. Clever, skilled employees require…

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Part of the inspiration for the 6th Floor Studios is the idea of gathering together a group of insightful creatives. Surrounding myself with smart people, and gaining and giving insight, has always appealed to me. This article has a wonderful set of takeaways, including encouraging the reader (a nebulous entrepreneur-executive figure) to never stop learning and to never lose interest.

The psychology of side projects: How creative hobbies improve our performance at everything


This post originally appeared on the Buffer blog. At any given time, I have a side project running…

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Alma’s to-go box:
As a person who has a lot of interests, from education, language, digital media, to fine arts, music and dance, I know that I’ll never find a traditional job that has all of those bases covered. In order to pursue my interests, I always seem to have some side project going on, sometimes for someone else, but most times for me alone.

I had never heard of Google’s 20 percent rule, but I really like it. I know it’s easier to “keep going” than to “get going” so why not empower continual creativity by making a little more room for it in the work day.