Getting in the Zone

Where do you accomplish your best thinking? What inspirational environments help produce the most effective results?

I have found libraries, college campuses, town halls, churches, parks and similar place are great for getting in the zone. When I’m in these environments I can conduct my clearest thinking and develop new creative approaches to accomplishing my goals.

Boston Public Library

I particularly enjoy libraries, because they offer incredible books and quiet spaces for working. Best of all they’re free, so everyone has the same opportunity to access incredible ideas.  The Boston Public Library is one of my favorites. The main entryway has lion statues, beautiful marble, and ornate stone carvings. On the second floor there’s a spectacular great room; it measures 218 feet long, 42 feet wide and has 50 foot high ceilings. This enlightening environment provides an ideal setting for planning great goals.

Are You Leveraging Free Resources?

“You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”  – Good Will Hunting

Many goals require learning a new subject or skill. In the old days you might need to spend thousands of dollars on college courses. But now you can teach yourself online for free. You have access to hundreds of millions of dollars in free resources right now! It’s incredible when you think about it, but many people completely overlook the opportunity. You’ve likely heard of many of these resources below but are you making the most use of them? To retain the most knowledge from these resources,  I recommend taking notes just as you did in school.

Make a conscious effort to spend 30 minutes per day dedicated to teaching yourself a new skill. If you remain disciplined and stick to it, you might amaze yourself.

Libraries are a greatly underutilized resource. I prefer to call them the “information vortex” or “ideas bank”. It baffles me that more libraries are not packed wall to wall with people.  They have books on everything. I’ confident your library has a book that will excite you. Many libraries are now offering digital books too.

Book stores are useful in towns where libraries are underfunded. If you’re looking for recently published material,  books stores may be the way to go.

Free books can be found online. Copyrights to many pieces of older literature have expired. Many of these classics are now public domain. If you want free books online try a site like: Gutenberg.org

YouTube.com  has incredible instructional videos. I cannot emphasize enough how useful these can be.  But you’ll need to search for quality content. Want to learn how to build a website? Or learn how to perfect your hockey swing?  Reflect on your current challenges  and search for instructional videos on YouTube.

TED.com offers insights and inspirational ideas.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Source Project, Khan Academy  and edX provide free online classes.

Craigslist.org is great for meeting people, buying and selling.  Over the years I’ve met dozens of great people off Craigslist who have helped me accomplish my goals. When I needed 30 actors for the film I wanted to produce, I found most of them through Craigslist.  Need an apartment? Need help on a project or cheap furniture? Craigslist is the place to go. Just be careful, watch out for the occasional crazy people.

Google.com is the search engine that puts anything at the tips of your finger nails. Anytime you have a question about something, type it into Google. It’s usually a good way to start.

MeetUp.com is a great way to meet experts who can help with your challenges. Search the site to see if there’s a group relevant to your interest.

CNET.com has free downloads of many software applications.