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Category: Uncategorized

Bookstores Haven’t Lost Their Magic

Some would argue that bookstores are becoming a thing of the past given today’s digital age and the rise of e-reading. Many point to international book retailer Borders as an example. At one point, there were over 500 Borders superstores in the United States, with additional stores in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. The company was eventually forced into bankruptcy, both due to poor business planning and foresight and also due to the increasing selection of online booksellers and the rise of digital media.

While Borders was undone, this doesn’t need to be the fate of all bookstores in the 21st century. As convenient as e-reading is today, it cannot replace human contact. Bookstores around the world are showing real innovation in how they’re working to keep the magic of the written word alive and make the corner bookstore a fun place to spend an afternoon, catch up with friends and even work on English skills in a comfortable setting.

How Bookstores are Embracing the Digital Age and Staying Relevant

Across the world there are great examples of bookstores large and small that manage to stay relevant and compete with the instant access, cheap prices and huge selection on the Internet.

One small, independent bookstore in the United States opened just a few years ago as dozens of nearby bookstores shut their doors. The store didn’t just scrape by, though, it managed to turn an ever-growing profit month after month with an innovative strategy. This bookstore owner installed his own printing press to compete with the Internet’s inventory, giving him the ability to print 5 million books, including Google Books, as well as offer custom publishing. Readers can enter his store, request a hard-to-find book or out-of-print book, and have it in hand in about four minutes.

The future of bookstores may even go further in this embrace of new technology, perhaps letting shoppers download a digital copy of a book over free Wi-Fi access in the store, or offering the option of a dual pack book with an in-store book purchase that includes the printed version as well as digital or audio versions.

Bookstores Offer the Human Experience

One thing that e-books cannot offer is the human experience and the ability to socialize and get out in the world while staying informed and catching up on the latest sci-fi or thriller release. Bookstores of the past were a place to relax with friends, have a drink and take in a newspaper or a book, and many bookstores today are trying to bring that back.

A bookstore chain in China’s Shanghai region is reintroducing people to the charm of bookstores by incorporating food, beverages and even a stationary outlet into the store itself. These customer-oriented bookstores attract readers and offer a new spin on book-selling by creating a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere where people can spend some time reading.

Re-embracing the Bookstore

If it’s been a while since you’ve even set foot inside a bookstore, it may be time for you to re-embrace the charm of a neighborhood bookstore to catch up on your reading. Along with catching up on the news and current events, reading English books can be a great way to gain more familiarity with words and spelling, and there is no better way to practice your reading than finding a great book that catches your attention and sparks your imagination!

10 Things You Can Do Today to Become More Creative

Creativity, the ability to “think outside the box,” is a trait that is sought by employers in both their potential and current employees. Any individual who is creative, the thinking goes, will be able to design solutions that are innovative and yet still compatible in the existing business environment. However, many individuals struggle to tap their inner creativity. This usually results in lack of productivity and the inability to be innovative and combat change effectively. Here is a list of ten methods that you can apply in your daily life in order to become more creative.


Reading fiction that is far from reality, such as “Alice in Wonderland,” can significantly enhance the power of your subconscious to be creative. Reading is an activity can be performed before beginning or before completing a difficult task, as absurdity or unrealistic stories can allow you to unleash your creativity.

Understanding the Problem

Rather than dwelling on the complexities present within the solution to a problem, experts recommend higher focus on the problem itself. Re-conceptualizing the problem can allow you to think of creative solutions and design a solution that offers the greatest benefit.

Projecting in Time

Studies reveal that individuals are able to design more creative solutions to the task at hand by projecting the task into the future. This means that rather than thinking about the problems that you will encounter tomorrow, think about a year or a decade from now, and design solutions to your existing and potential future problems at the same time.

Letting Your Imagination Run Wild

Using counterfactuals – statements that express conditions that are contrary to existing known facts – can significantly boost creativity, a recent study revealed. Imagining the opposite of what has happened can allow individuals to tackle problems from a different perspective. Counterfactuals can involve either removing barriers that create a hindrance or adding resources that can significantly accelerate the achievement process.

Design Solutions to All Your Problems at Once

Rather than tackling one problem at a time, psychologists recommend thinking about a variety of problems simultaneously. This will allow you to enhance your creativity while also recalling similar problems that you have solved before. Memory training will help increase your ability to remember problems that you faced in the past, and the solutions you came up with.


Writing can significantly boost your creativity, and this exercise can be done on a daily basis (preferably in early morning hours before you tackle the work for the day). Writing down your problems and listing a range of solutions can allow you to be innovative and design appropriate solutions.

Avoiding Daydreams

Although many people believe that daydreaming results in the unconscious mind wandering into a creative mode, recent studies suggest that daydreaming has little or no impact on creativity. Rather than daydreaming it is advised to think and act on a problem in real time.

Argue Out Loud

In case you are working in a team and have a range of solutions on how to tackle a problem, experts advise you to argue with your colleagues out loud. Arguing out loud will allow you to understand the real-life complexities of a solution and get the team motivated to focus on the problem at hand.

Using Your Mood

A study revealed that people are usually able to tap their inner creativity when they are in a very positive or very negative mood. This suggests that anger and happiness can both be used to think of creative solutions to problems.

Physical and Psychological Distance

Individuals are usually able to design a better solution if they physically and psychologically distance themselves from the problem. This means that rather than imagining yourself in the current location, you can imagine yourself in a different location and time and work from that perspective.

Mindful Meditation: The New Way To Pass Your Exams

How do you study for exams? Are you a dead-silence type of person or do you concentrate better while classical music plays in the background? A new study published in the Psychological Science Journal confirmed a long-standing hypothesis that mindfulness helps improve your working memory capacity and significantly reduce the tendency of your mind to wander.

The Three Ms of Studying: Memory, Mindfulness, Minimum Mind Wandering

Studying is one of the most challenging intellectual tasks children and young adults face throughout their school and university years. In order to develop an efficient study routine, with long-term storage of the information studied, you need mindfulness, minimum mind wandering, and a well-functioning memory capacity.

The study conducted by University of California researchers looked into how mindfulness affects studying, and the subsequent exam scores. While the study focused on participants taking GRE exams, its findings are applicable to a wide range of other student exams, including IELTS, SAT, and GMAT exams.

The Exciting Findings: Mindfulness Improves Test Scores

It has been long known that a wandering mind, prone to distraction, is frequently the reason why we underperform on mentally challenging tasks such as exams. Our helplessness to stop ourselves drifting into thoughts and dreams unrelated to the task at hand severely compromises productivity, performance, and efficiency in many aspects of our lives. What starts out as an issue in school can lead to even more impact on our future professional lives.

The researchers at Santa Barbara found that after a two-week mindfulness intensive training program, those participating saw their memory capacity and their mindfulness improve. The experiment succeeded because it shows that practicing mindfulness substantially reduces the tendency of the mind to wander, making it easier for people to focus on the present moment and on what requires their full attention at that instant.

The proof of the positive outcome of the training program are found in the 48 university undergraduates’ GRE scores. The students were able to perform better in the reading comprehension section of the GRE exams they were asked to take. While prior to the mindfulness training program the undergraduate students’ average GRE score was 460, post training this score increased by 60 points, becoming 520.

The study confirms that mindfulness can help improve concentration and ultimately performance at any intellectually challenging task, as it helps eliminate mind wandering and improves working memory capacity. This is obviously very useful for students who are required to frequently take all sorts of exams.

Practicing Mindful Meditation

Mindfulness is a skill. It’s the ability to suppress the urge to let your mind wander to unrelated thoughts, and instead focus entirely on a given task. It’s a skill that can be learned through practice.

Sitting meditation is a popular practice that improves mindfulness. In this practice, you focus on slowly becoming aware of your present state of being, excluding all unrelated thoughts and feelings.

Find a quiet, relaxing environment and sit cross-legged (or in a position that is comfortable for a longer period of time). Close your eyes and slowly start paying attention to your body, your breath, how your hands touch your knees, the sound of your lungs breathing air in and out. Gradually, let every thought and task blur into the background, while you become entirely aware of how your body feels in the present moment.

For mindfulness to be successful, body, thoughts and breath need to be synced with the present moment. Start with breathing to anchor yourself into the present, introduce your body to the experience by inviting each sense in one by one, and lastly, clear your mind of anything related to either the future or the past.

With daily mindfulness practice you can gradually increase your overall mindfulness capacity and reap all the benefits this brings, from improved working memory to better performance for mentally challenging tasks.

Skills to Learn Today So You Still Have A Job Tomorrow

The cut-throat market competition due to globalization, the move towards outsourcing, and the need to maintain profitability in times of recession and spiking inflation means that many organizations have adopted cost-cutting measures. This simply means that employers are no longer interested in potential employees that are unable to add value to the organization. Having outdated skills and not being technologically updated can result in losing your job.Continue Reading…

Tools and Tips to Keep Your Life Clutter Free

One of the basic reasons for a lack of productivity is the inability to focus on the task at hand. Lack of focus can come about due to many different reasons, but most have in common an unorganized system that does not allow you to think clearly. Just like you are unable to find the right pair of socks in a room that has not been cleaned for days, you are unlikely to find a way to work unless you have organized your personal and official issues systematically.Continue Reading…

What’s The Best Drink to Bring Out The Creative and Productive You?

Do you know what Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams have in common? Besides having prolific and internationally-famous writing careers, they were all booze-lovers. Did their love of alcohol inspire their works, or was their talent an inherent gift? It seems that certain substances have the power to boost creativity and inspiration while others can enhance our productivity. Remembering that over-consumption of anything isn’t a good idea, you might find that your abilities get that extra boost from one of these drinks:Continue Reading…

Time Tracking Apps – Do You Really Need Them?

Time tracking apps have been hailed as a must-have tool for individuals who cannot handle their workload and other responsibilities efficiently on their own. Businesses and freelance professionals use time tracking apps to better monitor their workload and the time spent on each project.Continue Reading…

Why Being Effective And Competent Is Better Than Being Popular

When you’re in your teens, you might feel like you’ve got to be popular in order to succeed. Some people make popularity a focus even in college and university. However, once you reach your mid-20s and move into the workforce, you’ll find that popularity isn’t the key to success. Popularity is a short-term prize. You’ll find yourself quickly disillusioned of the idea that popularity is the most important factor. Other skills and capacities turn out to be more valuable. In fact, being effective and competent is more crucial than being popular. Why, you ask?Continue Reading…

The Best Exercise for the Mind is Positive Thinking

Research states that optimistic people, individuals who practice positive thinking, are likely to have a longer life span and enjoy a healthier life. One of the most valuable research studies on this subject was carried out by a psychologist, Martin Seligman, teaching at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The researcher affirms that a positive or optimistic attitude towards situations can allow individuals to overcome the challenges and barriers of life. The study highlights the fact that optimistic people are likely to achieve better learning outcomes as opposed to pessimistic people.Continue Reading…

Are You Ready for Windows 8?

The latest innovation by Microsoft, Windows 8, brings in an extensive range of 300 and above features and is advertised as the biggest change bought by the organization within its operating systems since Windows 95. The drastic changes within the OS mean that existing users are able to realize benefits in terms of higher speed and better security options. However, considerable time will be required to adjust to the new features presented by Windows 8. Here is a list of top five features within Windows 8 that are significantly different when compared to the older versions of the OS.Continue Reading…