How to be more Creative

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As engineers, our core mission is to be creative, right? But we’ve been all there: you are expected to come up with a brilliant idea (for example to improve the designs or processes), but when you sit down to work on it, you don’t get anywhere but dead end. That is when you wonder why you didn’t inherit any of those creative genes 🤔.

There are numerous factors contributing to one leading a flourishing career, but I believe creativity is right at the boarder determining whether we fall into the group of people who potentially flourish or into the group of people who just survive. While there is no need to panic, if you think you don’t have the genes, then there are different strategies for you to kickstart your creativity. Therefore, a better alternative to stressing about that lack of creative genes is to find ways to boost your creativity that works for you 🔎, no matter how disappointing you think of yourself to be. Not every suggested technique in resources works for everybody, but there are a few simple strategies which I found very effective. The point made here is finding ways to make your mind stimulated. That’s the key and here, there are a few simple ways (based on my own personal experiences) listed to keep your mind stimulated.

Get physically active 


There are countless benefits to moderate physical activity and one of them is obviously our creativity.  I have found that during my morning runs, my mind is burst with new ideas no matter which aspect of my life I am focusing on during each run. Luckily, the constructive impact of physical activity on our mind is also backed up by research. So apart from all other benefits, a flourishing career led by your creativity is another reason for you to get active today.

Get out of your comfort zone  


In order for us to be creative, we need to try new things, to see things from different perspectives and to learn to think differently. We need to go far outside of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves regularly. As an example, I found blogging a perfect practice pushing me out of my comfort zone. I have published a post previously on the benefits of blogging to my career but everyone could be different and you might need to find out your own way to keep your mind stimulated. Though remember anything new could appear not your type at first. So unless you don’t try it, you won’t know for sure.

Get artistic 


I know it is not everyone’s type to get artistic but again it is about challenging yourself with something you haven’t done before, in addition to this advantage that ways to get creative with art is limitless. To me, art is very similar to engineering. It is all about skills as well as creativity. Of course we can call ourselves artist when we learn techniques and skills and we employ them to create pieces but that piece won’t turn into a masterpiece unless the element of creativity is incorporated alongside techniques. Having said that, it is your choice as to whether or not to enrol in art classes, but the good thing about getting artistic is that you are still able to get away with not knowing techniques while exploring the boundaries of your creativity. Just remember to take your smartphone everywhere and start taking picture from everything while trying angles, lighting, etc. Alternatively, buy a few bottles of Acrylic paint and a cheap canvas and just start creating. I recommend you starting with abstract painting as you might find it very easy, fun and creative.  

Stay positive 

people are more creative when they are happy.  It is a simple correlation. Staying positive and believing in yourself is an essential element in stimulating your creativity. Staying happy and positive makes it more likly that you’ll be able to think outside of the box and find creative solution. In contrast, when you approach a goal with disbelief, your consequent anxiety clog your thinking, making creativity less probable. Needless to say that the correlation between a positive mindset and creativity is also backed up by research.

what else do you do to stimulate your creativity?   

 

 

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How blogging helps me to be a better engineer and scientist 

I initailly started blogging with a different set of goals, such as communicating my science, improving my writing skills, raising my concerns and promoting girls into engineering and science, etc., but along the way I realised that this practice of blogging is actually helping me to be a better engineer and scientist and here is how:

  •  To write a good blog post you need to read a lot, just to keep yourself up to date, refresh your memories, learn new science and broaden your vision. 
  • The importance of networking to one’s career is very obvious. As you start blogging, you get noticed and that provides a great opportunity to expand your global network and indentify resources that provide you with the perceptiveness required to deliver value to your career as well as your readers.  
  • Blogging fuel your creativity. Blogging involves a lot of learning that provide you with a continuous brain exercise you need to boost your creativity. In addition, to write a good blog you have to ask yourself a lot of questions. Asking questions map your mind and a lot of mindmapping is another requirement of being creative. Blogging also requires a lot of courage as you have to give up on all the risks involved in going online. Worrying too much about the risk is the number one killer of creativity and by blogging you practice to be a risk taker.  
  • And at last but not least, blogging for me has been a journey of self-disovery. It has expanded my mind and opened my eyes to my core interests and values. I am more aware of my strength and weakness and I know better what works for me and what doesn’t. Blogging helps me to stay focused and relevant to my goals. 

Wild herbs

We made a beautiful, heavenly delish soup 👌 last night with wild herbs (or so-called edible weeds). I collected them a few days back while we were walking with my kids. It’s a lot of fun for my kids looking for them and finding them😊. In this era of technology while our kids are locked to screens, I try to use every single opportunity to teach my kids to get connected to the nature. Searching, exploring and collecting edible weeds is a lot of fun for kids and it is also a great way to not only get connected but also respect the mother nature and be grateful of its generousity. That helps them to understand nature better and do a better care of nature when they grow up.

Despite being available pretty much everywhere, They are rarely known as edible. That is why – and to show my appreciation for nature – I decided to write a blog post about edible weeds. With a simple google search you can find a lot of information as well as their gorgeous pictures for your local area. They are not hard to find and there are plenty around. You don’t need to be living in countryside, just do a bit of cross-country walk next time you go for a walk and you will find plenty . You can even find them in your backyard or your children’s playground. Picture below is what we collected the other day, I don’t know exactly what they are called but they taste slightly sour and make beautiful soups. I keep posting more images of wild herbs. 

 

Lessons I have learned from my PhD

Before doing an actual PhD, I used to believe that  intelligence and hardwork are the only requirements of doing a successful PhD and personality traits have little or nothing to do with it. However, I learned the hard way that the journey is far more complicated and there are factors other than intelligence and hard work that can appear crucial to your PhD. Although knowing the real world of PhD would not change my determination to be a scientist, knowing those factors beforehand could have helped save enrgy and make my  journey much smoother. Here are a few tips based on my personal experience of doing a PhD for those who haven’t started yet or are early in their journey:

Self awareness is the king. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is the key to perform a fruitful PhD journey. Many of us might be good at knowing our strengths, but when it comes to our weaknesses, our unconscious reaction is to either ignore them or hide them and If you don’t take control of your weakness early in your journey, that could end up to a truly daunting journey. When I started my PhD, I used to be a perfectionist who was also extremly afraid of being judged. That had led me to have trouble approaching people to ask for help or ideas, therefore ,undergoing a lot of unnecessary pressure and loss of energy.  I was also a horrible presenter just because I was extremely nervous in front of public. I am still nervous in front of public, but the difference now is that I am not trying to hide the stress anymore. Instead, I try to acknowledge its presence and control my performance rather than my stress. 

It is, however, really important to be able to recognise that there is a difference between self awareness and self criticism, the latter being largely destructive. Developing self awareness is also a precondition to developing a mutual understanding between ourselves and co-workers and mutual understanding is obviously the key to conflict free and happy relationships at work. 

Resilience is the art of  coping with stress, adversity and change through enhancing your confidence, optimism, problem solving and communication. If you are like me and your PhD journey is coincident with migration and its unique complications and on the top of that having a baby in the meantime, be prepared to be challenged massively. There might be numerous circumstances where you see yourself in a dead end with no way out. You feel trapped and empty. This situation is totally understandable and there is nothing wrong with that. It can happen to everyone. You can’t get the results you want, your experimental design doesn’t work, your equipment stop behaving and you have deadlines to meet. In addition to these, you don’t have much common with people around you. They seem to you like aliens from another world. You have also family commitment and have to juggle family and work. These are all normal feelings and phases that everyone can go through. You can’t and shouldn’t avoid such circumstances but you can manage your attitude toward them. The important thing in such situations is to stay confident and positive, pull together your strengths and communicate, communicate and communicate. 

Communication and transparency is an important factor contributing to a successful PhD. It is really important that you communicate your expectations from people you work with clearly. Don’t expect your supervisors to be mindreaders. Don’t be shy and let them know what level of freedom or support you need and ask expectations of your supervisors and other team members as well. Be transparent about your planned milestones and ask them the same. That helps a lot in developing a trustworthy and collaborative environment. 

Social skills while doing PhD and investing time in learning technical skills, it is really vital to invest in your social and networking skills as well. Don’t waste even a single chance to network. Get your work out and let others outside of your team know what you do. You never regret hearing other perspectives on your work. Sometimes, that can be the only way to free you from the nightmare of not getting anywhere. In addition, I guess it is not necessary to mention that your network can appear extremely valuable in your job search following your PhD. 

However, bear in mind that it is very normal if you don’t feel comfortable with networking. Referring to self awareness here again, just try to find out why. For me, being an introvert had little to do with my uncomfortable feeling at networking  but it was mainly due to lack of enough confidence originated from my fear of being judged. Work on the origin of your uncomfortable feelings and develop strategies to obtain control over them.