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Can you commit to ‘The 5-Hour Rule’ to guide your lifelong learning?

Commit to 5 hours a week

Dedicating five hours a week to learning creates space for innovation

What is the secret to success used by successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey? It’s a system of constant learning called the ‘5-Hour Rule’. Its proponents commit to five hours per week to learning new things. The reason? Lifelong learning boosts creativity and prevents status quo thinking from becoming a routine that stifles innovation and enjoyment.

Benjamin Franklin is said to have followed a similar pattern – he woke up early to read and write, set personal growth goals and tracked the results, and also created a community of like-minded artisans and tradespeople who hoped to improve themselves while they also improved their communities.

Champion martial artist Josh Waitzkin also applies the 5-hour rule to his practice. He says ‘”I have built a life around having empty space for the development of my ideas for the creative process. And for the cultivation of a physiological state which is receptive enough to tune in very, very deeply to people I work with … In the creative process, it’s so easy to drive for efficiency and take for granted the really subtle internal work that it takes to play on that razor’s edge.”

CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, has said that lifelong learning is something that defines him as a leader. “I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things.”

How can you benefit from making the same commitment to lifelong learning? Connect2Classes makes it easy with an extensive catalog of learning experiences and life skills training that can benefit your life including cooking and baking, DIY and home improvement, visual and performing arts, and more.

 

Parenting the Love and Logic Way is a course that gives students proven techniques, exercises, and tips that help kids become more responsible while the whole family has more fun.

Starting a New Business will help jump-start any new business.Generate cash faster and avoid common pitfalls. Start with the right legal, insurance, and accounting knowledge. Learn how to finance your product or service, identify key customers and develop a strong marketing platform.

If you are serious about pursuing an education in wine, Mastering the Art of Wine Tasting is the most important wine class you can take. It is a thorough grounding in the skills necessary to taste wines like a professional.

Or simply click to explore all of the courses offered on Connect2Classes.

 

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Fountain of youth? It lives within your community.

Fountain of Youth lives within your community

Edmonds Community College and Edmonds Arts Festival partnership creates opportunities for students

We’d like to feel younger, right? If you’ve been following the hot new Younger Next Year movement, you know that one of the six ways to stop much of the decay of aging is to get out into your community and join the activity. Studies have shown that people who are engaged in their communities live years (sometimes many years) longer than those who stay isolated at home.

As one Community Education program discovered, that principle is true at the institutional level as well. “We applied the Younger Next Year concept to our entire program,” says Marianne Legg, Program Coordinator for the Community Education classes at Edmonds Community College.

“We used to have our community education offices in the center of Edmonds and were a part of many community events. Eighteen months ago, our building was sold and we moved away from downtown. We felt so isolated,” states Marianne. “We began looking for ways to put the community back into our community education program.”

As the program discovered, seeking relationships in the community rejuvenated their class offerings and they were able to give their students some unique opportunities. And students, who might not have known about the school before, discovered it through a community partner.

As bonus, the community as a whole has benefited from partnerships with the school. Take this spring’s Creating Public Art class, for example, which partners the college’s community education program with the Edmonds Arts Festival to make 4-by-8-foot banners to hang at the festival this summer.

“We were blown away that the Edmonds Arts Festival wanted to work with us,” Marianne enthuses. Every June, this world-class Festival draws around 50,000 visitors to buy art and enjoy free entertainment and great food. “Hanging your banner at this festival is major exposure for anyone interested in a career in the visual arts,” she says.

Students will be able to create their own designs under the tutelage of a nationally-recognized illustrator. They’ll produce six banners which the festival can use for years to come; so, the Festival benefits as well.

“Yes, win-win-win is our goal with these partnerships,” Marianne says. “We feel everyone comes out ahead when we all work together on mutual goals. And our students get opportunities they wouldn’t have without taking advantage of the partnership.”

The Certificate in Event Planning is being offered in conjunction with the Edmonds Arts Festival which offers on-the-job training in organizing a major community event. “This is a fun way to learn the intricate details of community event planning from people with thousands of hours of events experience,” says Marianne.

The planning that goes into putting on an event like this festival includes marketing, artist booths, volunteer management, scheduling, fundraising, a juried art exhibit, a children’s art exhibit, entertainment, catering and more.

Certificate students will be able to pick their areas of interest and work with the directors of those departments. “Because our students are not just volunteering their time but are in an active learning relationship through us, they get an experience that no one else can,” Marianne says, adding, “This really is a great opportunity!”

Marianne notes that while community education “isn’t the literal fountain of youth, it can offer a sense of real community involvement that can help keep our students younger for years to come!”

Register for these classes and more at Connect2Classes.

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Creative kids are better prepared for career success

CreativeKids-Connect2Classes Camps

Preparing your kids for their future may seem daunting, but picking activities that nurture their creativity, imagination, and ingenuity can help set them on their career path.

Automation will replace more and more jobs in the coming years, but new jobs are being created that we couldn’t have imagined. In a rapidly changing marketplace, innovation will become even more critical to career success. According to an IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs, creativity was picked as the best asset for an organization’s success.

But, creativity, it turns out, is on the decline. A 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s found that creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Children are less innovative and imaginative, as well as being less able to articulate their ideas than in previous decades.

There is good news, thankfully. Creativity skills can be nurtured through hands-on, interactive processes. Creativity is often about resourcefulness and being able to work within constraints. Innovation comes from being able to evaluate available resources and combining them in novel ways.

Laura Vida of Seattle’s Frog Leg’s Academy believes the kitchen is the perfect environment for kids to get a taste for creativity. “Cooking is a great way to develop creativity because it can be so many things. I’m amazed at the endless amount of ideas and transformations that we can do with food,” says Laura.

Silvana Junge, owner of Silvana Desserts, agrees that cooking is a great way for kids to develop self-confidence through the combination of creative and technical skills needed to create in the kitchen. “My kitchen is a big lab where kids play with math, science, and chemistry,” says Silvana. “They mix and match flavors, color, and textures using their imagination, senses, and intuition to create something totally unique.”

Creativity skills learned in one area, say visual, culinary, or performance arts, can translate to other areas. Once a child, or adult, develops a creative habit, ingenuity becomes a regular source of motivation and inspiration for them.

Christi Cruz of Wedgwood Drama Studio says that “when young people are encouraged to take risks, try new things, and stretch their growing wings in a supportive environment, they gain experiences they can carry with them as they take their next leaps in life.”

Spring break learning experiences for kids and teens are an excellent way to encourage a deep dive into creativity and innovative thinking while maximizing fun. It might even spark a lifelong creative passion in them!

Find camps from cooking to baseball now at Connect2Classes.com and take advantage of our $10 spring break coupon.

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Build your photography skills with hands-on learning

Better Photography 7 Steps

Master photographer Bruce Hudson starts off each of his classes by asking students why they want to learn photography in-person, rather than through tutorials on Youtube. The answer varies for each set of students in his popular 7 Steps to Better Photography Class, but the answer is most often that hands-on learning offers an experience that is more practical and useful. This is the answer Hudson is looking for!

With over three decades as a full-time professional photographer, Hudson’s experience has been vast and rewarding. His portrait work has given him the opportunity to photograph presidents, governors, celebrities, and hundreds of clients from Japan to Jamaica, Tuscany to LA, and all over the great State of Washington. His background in teaching, he was the high school band director at Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, WA from 1978 to 1982, compounded with his photography expertise, led Hudson to teach classes to photo enthusiasts and then eventually to develop Hudson’s Photo Workshops.

“Photography is a powerful medium for recording history, telling a story and preserving heritage for generations to see”, says Hudson, at the beginning of every class he teaches. The popularity of his classes quickly grew organically although their initial success was a bit of a surprise to Hudson. “My son Josh gets all the credit for convincing me to start the photo workshops. But, get this: we actually received several hate emails from some of the local professional photographers in our area, who were upset that we were training more competition! They compared it to a magician sharing secrets to the public!”, Hudson explains.

In reality, with digital cameras being the new norm, budding photographers are interested in the craft and looking to expand their knowledge which Hudson believes is a good thing! The majority of students enrolled in Hudson’s Photo Workshops are parents and grandparents learning to take better photographs of their kids and grandkids; or hobbyists, such as hikers, who want to capture some great images along the way. The workshops, offered at Hudson’s studio in Tukwila, draw students mainly from the Puget Sound region, however students from Spokane and Bellingham, and as far as Vancouver, Canada have sought out Hudson’s expertise.

Hudson’s Photo Workshops offers a four-hour introductory class that emphasizes learning the basic function of today’s modern DSLR. The class also covers artistic strategies, lighting techniques, tips and secrets for making subjects look great, and a tutorial on how to take a typical snapshot and turn it into a work of art. “My goal with every class is to share a ton of information that will take my students’ photography to new heights and put them in control of their camera, well beyond basic point-and-shoot”, says Hudson. Students are given the tools needed to operate their camera in manual mode for the ability to control the technical and artistic outcome of each image captured.

As Hudson’s Photo Workshops have gained popularity, requests for advanced classes and trip-based photo shoots have evolved leading to the creation of an entire suite of classes. From 7 Steps to Better Photography and Advanced Level Photography: Artsy or Techy, to Beginner Photoshop, there is a class to fulfill the learning needs of any aspiring shutterbug! 2017 will also see the addition of a week-long photo cruise expedition to Alaska and a Mediterranean cruise to put skills to the test on the road!

Benefit from Hudson’s expertise and indulge your passion for photography by enrolling in an upcoming classes. Visit Connect2Classesto register today and build your photography skills to see where they can take you in the new year!


Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

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Uncork your wine knowledge and see where it will take you

Wines of France

When Richard Kinssies, founder of the Seattle Wine School, was offered his first job in the wine industry, he had a confession to make. “I really don’t know much about wine.” His soon-to- be boss laughed it off saying, “nobody does!” Fast-forward several decades and not only has Kinssies’ knowledge positioned him as a wine leader, but industry popularity has led to increasing numbers of consumers and professionals looking to building their wine tasting skills. Building on the reach of the online class marketplace Connect2Classes, Kinssies aims to reach a larger audience who are searching for wine classes in the Seattle area.

Through weekly classes at the Seattle Wine School, Kinssies offers some of the most popular classes in the area, particularly because of his pragmatic approach to wine. He believes that wine, like art, can be appreciated on many levels. A painting evokes a certain feeling upon sight and can be enjoyed on a surface level. If the viewer digs deeper, the artist’s intention and processes can be understood and a greater appreciation can be gained. With wine, a sip can be enough to pronounce it good or bad but if the taster understands the particular characteristics of the grapes used, learns how the soil, altitude, slope of the vineyard, climate and farming processes work, the quality and personality of a wine will lend a greater understanding. Kinssies calls this the ‘geeky’ part of wine and believes that it is what motivates people to dedicate themselves to studying the subject.

In his expansive career, Kinssies has explored a multitude of jobs within the wine industry. He has worked in retail sales, as a sommelier and a winemaker; he has owned a restaurant and a wine bar, written two books and hosted two radio shows on wine and food that spanned nine years and was the wine columnist for the Seattle Post Intelligencer for nearly 30 years. Kinssies saw a need within the industry for basic education for wine professionals and started the Seattle Wine School in 1981. He eventually decided to open the school up to the public so that non-professionals can develop a professional level of wine education. Kinssies has also developed wine certification programs for the Washington wine industry and for the government of France, training American wine professionals in French wines.

Over the years, teaching has remained a constant in Kinssies’ career. He proclaims it to be his greatest thrill and admits it has given him the most professional and personal satisfaction. Guiding students towards understanding a certain aspect of a wine and seeing them grasp it is what fuels his passion. Anyone can learn wine, Kinssies believes; however, time and resources can be a limitation that he wants to help students overcome by making learning accessible. Classes at the Seattle Wine School offer great value and are consistently scheduled on Monday evenings to make fitting it into a busy lifestyle easy. Kinssies does offer one warning: studying wine is like studying physics. “You can learn a lot, but you will never learn it all,” Kinssies says. “Just savor the journey!”

Start 2017 off building your wine skills in a variety of classes offered at Seattle Wine School. From Mastering the Art of Wine Tasting and Wine 101 to an Introduction to France or Italy, there is an opportunity to uncork your knowledge and see where it will take you! Visit Connect2Classes to register today.


Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

Enter your interests and receive $10 off your first class!

Gift certificates are available!

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Why Making Things Helps Us Thrive

We can all use more things in our life that make us feel happy and fulfilled. There has been a cultural renaissance these last few years as we learn more about what really motivates people. It’s something we nearly lost in our manufacturing-heavy culture: the pleasure associated with making things and sharing one’s creations with others. This is also a business opportunity, so read on if you are intrigued by the idea of turning your passion into an enterprise.

This is a revolution. If you can imagine it, you can make it. And that’s new to the world. – Mark Hatch, CEO, Maker Media

Your Brain on Creativity

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Why does making and sharing things feel so good? It begins with creativity, one of those things that spurs us on to ever greater accomplishments. There is nothing quite like creative experiences to throttle our brains into happier brain chemistry by putting us into the flow states associated with positive psychology. And creative thinking also has benefits in other parts of our lives: it improves problem-solving, big picture and design thinking, as well as collaboration with others.

It doesn’t matter whether you are into art, crafts, DIY, or tinkering, your brain loves to create and rewards you for doing so. The process of creating and sharing your creations releases dopamine, a natural anti-depressant in your brain. Dopamine is the brain chemical associated with reward and the pleasurable sensations that come from it. It’s like we are wired to create. But legions of artists, crafters, do-it-yourselfers and makers could tell you that!

There’s survey evidence to support crafting’s dopamine effect. In one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy.”

The positive effect of creative activities is well-documented in the scientific literature. Creativity and the novel experiences associated with it keep the brain agile and also motivate us. Things as simple as coloring or doodling encourage this effect, but the most benefit comes from ongoing creative pursuits:

Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging. – CNN

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

The following talk by British educator Sir Ken Robinson is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time. He argues that creativity is more important than literacy and that traditional schooling kills creativity. This is especially true now that home economics, woodshop, arts, and music are disappearing from schools. Less young people are learning how to cook, sew, and build via formal education, although classes, camps and after-school activities are filling the gap. Robinson says that our innate drive to create and to embrace trial and error are not valued in an educational system that tries to minimize failure. Creativity also tends to be multi-disciplinary, which is not widely embraced in our siloed educational systems.

DIY & Maker Culture

A major trend the last decade or so has been a shift towards people becoming more and more creative and leveraging that creativity to explore new interests or even launch new businesses. We’re creating handmade and one-of-a-kind items that stand out in the world of mass manufacturing. Some of us are launching businesses on sites like Etsy, an extravaganza of novel items launched from creative brains (which boasts 25 million shoppers). This has been fueled, as well, by the recession economy that has turned so many people into entrepreneurs:

In a world of mass-produced products, modern technology has made it easier than ever for a single individual to create and distribute items that are customizable and unique without having middlemen like manufacturers. This growing shift will continue to affect the economy and will likely have big implications on large retailers. It is a special time in history that will have a transformative impact on our future. – Huffington Post

You might have heard about the Maker movement, a grassroots movement based on the emergence of consumer-level tools for design and manufacturing. It’s reported that 135 million Americans are makers, which is nearly half the population. The maker manifesto calls for making, sharing, giving, and learning. It’s making a difference. MakerFaires are popping up everywhere, and there are other maker-inspired communities and events, as well:

Craft nights are replacing book clubs. Libraries and museums are being turned into “Makerspaces,” physical locations where people can come together to make. The sale of sewing kits in Walmart stores has recently gone up 30 percent. And just last year, someone created Christmas cookies using a 3D printer. – Huffington Post

This has become a major economic phenomenon because of a perfect storm of conditions:

  • Access to increasingly sophisticated tools to create, like 3-D printers.
  • The ability to find inspiration online.
  • Crowdfunding to make your idea reality.
  • Online marketplaces and social channels to get feedback and distribute creations.
  • Inexpensive and effective tools for branding, marketing, and promotion.
  • Learning opportunities provided by other creators.

Boosting Your Creativity and Learning DIY Skills

Albert Einstein said that creativity is intelligence having fun. At Connect2Classes, we are committed to helping our learners explore their creative potential. Creative businesses can be some of the most fulfilling, as well as being lucrative in a world of people looking for unique and one-of-a-kind items. We’d love to hear about how your creative endeavors affect your life – please comment!

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Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

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Embrace Social! Update Your Skills in Digital & Social Media Marketing

embrace social media and update your skills

Digital and social media are an important part of any marketer’s toolkit, but it does tend to be a bit confusing for the uninitiated. In reality, however, it isn’t that much different from traditional marketing. The goals are the same (raise awareness, convert potential customers, promote advocacy and word-of-mouth sharing), and social interactions online offer some great benefits and allow you to scale your marketing efforts beyond your current capacity. It’s also about being where your target markets are and social media offers great ways to connect with customers as they explore their interests. Facebook alone has 1.6 BILLION users so it is a huge opportunity to augment your marketing efforts.

we are social Source: SmartInsights

A few important reasons to take digital and social media marketing seriously, especially if your customers are avid Internet users:

Raise Awareness and Keep Your Brand Top of Mind

Building and maintaining awareness of your brand, products and services is a constant challenge. By having a robust presence on social media, you can promote your brand and offerings and make sure they are available where your potential customers already are. Read about the most popular social networks worldwide.

Demonstrate Credibility

Social media is a great way to establish your credibility in a space. You also demonstrate knowledge and credibility by connecting with and promoting others in your space. This means following influencers and commenting on or sharing their content. ‘Stand on the shoulders of giants’ is a good way to think about it. You can align your messaging and content with popular activity in the social sphere.

Real-time Engagement

Your digital marketing and social media efforts keep you involving customers and allow you to respond to questions or comments in real-time. Your customers can be huge advocates for you and will happily share your content across social media if you involve them.

Share Knowledge

Internet users tend to gravitate towards content that has value, meaning old marketing messages don’t work nearly as well as sharing tangible knowledge about things people care about. Social media can also be a great vehicle for customer service, if you make a point to respond quickly to customer questions and feedback. The more you respond, the more customers will gravitate towards those channels.

Penetrate Your Target Markets

Social media preferences tend to vary quite a lot by age and gender, and some social media sites (like LinkedIn) are centered around professional connections. You can also schedule content to be published and use hashtags and boards on many of the services to keep your messages aligned with broader trends.

Respond In Real-time

A major area of value for the wired generations is the ability to conduct business in real-time. Social media is a great way to ensure your availability whenever someone has a question or feedback. You can also take it a step further by being available on chat networks (like Snapchat or Facebook Messenger) as well.

Be More Efficient (and Save Money)

Social media marketing is so important because it allows you to scale your efforts significantly and reaches a much larger audience. There are some great tools that allow you to post across multiple channels and set up automation so your voice is being heard even when you aren’t available. These are all really low-cost ways of getting your message out there.

Some Questions You Might Have

  • How can you align your digital strategy with your offline marketing efforts?
  • Which social media channels are best for engaging with your target audience?
  • What engagement and writing styles work best?
  • How often should you be posting to your blog or sending email?
  • Would social ads be a good investment for you?
  • How can you measure your success?

If you’re intrigued by these suggestions check out our social media and digital marketing classes or consider the following upcoming classes:

Online Courses

  • Digital Marketing Suite
    How to market your business on the Internet.
  • LinkedIn 101
    Use this business-oriented channel to boost your career or business.
  • Achieving Top Search Engine Positions
    All about SEO and how to achieve great results.

Quick 1-day Classes

  • Digital Marketing Bootcamp
    How to tie your digital and offline campaigns together. An all day class on Oct. 21st.
  • Visual Design and User Experience for Email
    Email can be one of your most important digital marketing channels. Learn how on Nov. 9th.
  • Social Media Advertising
    Learn how to make paid advertising work for you with this class Oct. 22nd.
  • Blogging 101
    How to create a successful blog and make money doing it. Oct 20th.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Non-Profits
    Get a real look under the hood with free classes beginning Oct 19th.

In-depth Courses

  • 10-Week Digital Marketing Intensive
    A great place to start if you are wondering how digital marketing and social media can improve your business. Begins Oct 8th, Nov. 5th or Dec. 13th.
  • Site Audit Workshop
    This 6-week course will teach you the fundamentals of site analytics and improvement. Begins Oct. 20th.

What students say about our life-changing professional courses:

I attended the Web Development Immersive course. It changed my life. Within 1 1/2 months of graduation, I was offered a great job at a company that’s considered one of the top 5 to work for in the Pacific NW. Starting next week I’ll be a Software Engineer making more than twice what I made in my previous career, and I enjoy the work much more.


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Want to learn how to do something life-changing?
Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

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Achievement Unlocked: Here’s the Passcode to Inspire Your Family

Inspire your family

We live in an age where your phone is as important as your social security number, and sometimes just as sensitive.

Head to a bus stop, a Starbucks, even an outdoor concert and you’ll see countless people tapping away. Some say it’s killing our social nature, others insist, despite YouTube stars and Insta-sponsorships, that the cloud inhibits gaining hard skills.

But phones have taught us something valuable, something we can apply to every life goal. Think about your favorite cell phone apps. Facebook, Instagram, Pokémon GO—they’re all achievement-based. They’re engineered to keep you logging on, in hopes you’ll clock the most likes at that bus stop. Even dating apps count your matches, making you more visible the more active you become.

So to inspire your family this fall, use the cell to your advantage. Create achievement tasks beyond report cards and assignments, and get each of your loved ones pumped about learning.

First, have each member set a goal. Maybe Mom wants to learn Italian, Dad would like to build a sushi menu, and your sister’s always loved photography, but doesn’t know where to start. Don’t force similar choices. It’s only fun if there’s passion involved; you don’t want the fix to feel like a swear jar (unless the goal is to quit swearing!)

Have your family do some research, noting any tasks involved. To roll his sushi, Dad may need to buy some mats, find a teacher, perhaps brush up on chopstick etiquette. Each achievement stacks self-worth, unlocks Dad’s drive to persevere. The point is to create a list of items easy enough to do, but still satisfying to get ‘em done!

Track your progress with encouragement, not guilt. There’s no quicker way to kill your spirit than a blood relative breathing down your neck. Dinner table check-ins should happen not on a set schedule, but when someone hits a milestone they’d like to share—like Dad’s first photo-ready Onigiri. That way, falling behind doesn’t feel like punishment, it feels like a call to action.

When a family’s free to set its deadlines, the results may be surprising. You might find a skill that wouldn’t emerge in school and could be useful later on. It might even be something a few of you have in common, like food photography.

So don’t wait for Insta-fame or a rare Pokémon to validate your kids. Unlock some achievements this fall, and see what surprises unfold.

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An Artist, a Game Developer and a Restauranteur On the Secret to Productivity

Downing Pottery at Nordstrom

With sunny skies, crowded commutes, and that phantom force we call Vacation Brain, staying productive in the summer can prove difficult. But sometimes, embracing small distractions can help achieve more lofty goals. These tips from a local ceramic artist, a game developer, and a restaurateur will get that lazy brain back on track—and get the creative juices flowing.

Set small, achievable goals.

No stranger to success, Jon Gill is a game developer at Ruddy Games and self-published his first board game, Skulldug! In January 2016. It was a KickStarter staff pick and currently leads the bestseller table at Cafe Mox in Ballard. But Jon knows smash hits don’t happen overnight, and welcomes the minute tasks along the way.

“Busywork, like answering e-mails or doing something in Photoshop can be really good, because they’re not ‘blank page’ problems,” he explains. “There’s a guaranteed result; I can do it, and cross it off my list, and by then I’m excited enough to tackle the blank page.”

These tasks build confidence, Jon says, but they occasionally give him ideas as well. Turns out with a little momentum, the finish line won’t look so distant.

Create a weekly cycle
Walrus and the Carpenter 2 With all the information we consume in a day, face-to-face meetings are becoming more and more important. When they interrupt a task, though, these appointments can throw off focus and halt that productivity. That’s why lauded Seattle restaurateur Renee Erickson sets a weekly schedule for all six of her eateries. “We have our manager meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and that leaves the rest of the weekdays free to be in the restaurants or taking on other events.” For a creative who depends heavily on Google Calendar to organize events, schedules, and delegation, meetings can be a blessing and a curse. The cycle keeps her from overbooking herself and allows each manager to compile questions or concerns ahead of time. And whatever’s in-between, she laughs, gets written on her hand!

Prepare your brain
Often, striking a groove is all about creating a conducive workplace. For Downing Pottery artist Sarah Woodson, this means all prep work is done before she leaves her studio at night. With a schedule based around art shows and special orders, “I have to run a pretty tight ship. But clay doesn’t always work at the pace you want it to.” For example, “when it’s raining and there’s a lot of moisture in the air, the process takes longer.” Sarah tackles issues she can’t control by responding to the ones she can.

Likewise, Jon treats his lengthy commute not as a necessary evil, but as prime brainstorming time. “Because it’s such a constrained space, there are no distractions and I can focus,” the dev points out. “When I just get home without priming the pump in that way, it can be much easier to say, ‘oh I’ll just watch TV, or play a game.’” Armed with a quiver of fresh ideas, he can tackle a challenge as soon as he gets home.

Schedule quality time off
Even before A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus was published, Renee found it difficult to take the kind of time off she wanted. In lavish photos and delectable stories, the book profiles her favorite vendors, friends, and fishing spots, not to mention menus for all kinds of occasions—all without a smartphone in sight. So how does she step away from the cloud? The secret, she admits, is to schedule events six months in advance, rather than a year. “There’s just so much that we could say yes to, the days off would become impossible,” Renee confides, “you never know what happens in your life, whether it’s a wedding or something exciting.” Her restaurants may be on the hot list each season, but one surf and turf weekend that’s utterly off-limits? Her birthday in August.

Keep your brain engaged
Jon’s home plays barracks to an army of figurines. A regular host of movie nights and outings, he mines pop culture for ideas while he spends time with good friends. “Things that work, work for a reason,” he insists, recommending that any creative study products outside his field. “Especially with games, there is a tendency to look towards other games.” The mentality of “‘I’m going to make a shooter game, I’m going to play other shooter games and see what the best shooters are,’ means you’re going to put out a product that’s exactly like everything else.” That’s a huge mistake in the gaming sphere.

Consuming culture can also increase productivity. “I listen to a lot of podcasts,” Sarah tells us, “and have found that certain types of programs help the flow of my work on any given day. It’s the best thing at the wheel to get sucked into a story and not realize that an hour has gone by.” Whether it’s RadioLab or her favorite stand-up comedian, Sarah can craft ideas and let muscle memory take care of the rest.

Ready to take the plunge? Connect2Classes offers a wide array of opportunities, from coding to crafting to cooking. Sign up today for your chance to rock the studio and bring a creative new routine to your daily life.

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At Salmon Bay Paddle, Getting Wet Is Part of the Fun

paddleboarding SUP classes

Getting wet is nothing new for Rob Casey.

But the founder of Salmon Bay Paddle knows it is one of the biggest barriers for those new to stand-up paddleboarding.

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“We recently started getting everyone wet before they got on the board, so they’re not worrying the whole time about falling,” he says. “We teach them how to fall safely, so they don’t hit their head. Then we’ll have people, by the end of the lesson, walking to the back of the board popping the nose up and doing 360’s. They learn three different ways to climb back on the board, do more 360’s, fall in again, and now their skills are 50 to 60 percent higher than if they tried to do it themselves.”

Casey did have to do it himself. He began kayaking in 1999 and was leading guided tours when stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP for short) came to Seattle around 2006, more in a trickle than a wave. By 2009 REI had jumped on the bandwagon, bringing SUP to the forefront, and a demand for classes along with it. By that point, Casey and a small contingent in Ballard had taught the form to themselves through trial and error. He was prepared to teach others how to paddle and, perhaps more important, fall.

“We embrace falling. If you’re not falling, you’re not having a good time,” Casey insists. “If you don’t fall, you can’t climb back on the board.”

A few controlled falls may make all the difference between a Sunday jaunt and a catastrophe, between a quick recovery and an embarrassing swim back to shore. Casey knows; he’s had his share of falls. But at Salmon Bay Paddle, Casey fights fear with familiarity. Often before they hit the water, students convince themselves that their balance is off, they’re not strong swimmers, or even that the board won’t hold them. He’s heard it all before, often three times in the same day. Casey meets these concerns with the preparation of an Eagle Scout and a devil-may-care attitude that puts everyone at ease.

“If I get someone that sounds nervous on the phone, I’ll bring them a bigger board than needed for their particular height and weight, so they’re standing up, no problem,” he says. “We even carry larger boards on the water in case that doesn’t work out. Last summer we had someone 405 pounds, a former L.A. Raiders linebacker, arthritic on top of that. We found a huge board for him, got him up, and he did fine. And we took him through Deception Pass after that. So that fear goes away pretty quickly.”

Standing up is only the beginning. Seattle’s shipping channels make it the perfect place for thrill-seekers like Casey to use paddleboarding as a substitute for surfing. Once a student has got her sea legs, Casey looks out for wakes from container ships, swells, and other ways to test the boundaries. “It’s not always the size of the wave, so long as you’re catching the ride,” he muses, remembering a lady in her 60s who for four straight hours was “hooting and hollering all the way to shore.”

Of course, there are also benefits to just taking in your surroundings. “You can stand up on the board and look down, see all the fish swimming around you,” Casey says. “We have harbor seals swimming with us in two feet of water. The little benefits like that make me want to keep going.”

Go ahead, get wet! Find classes here.