The Key to Coming Up with Good Ideas
Trying to come up with ideas can be one of the most frustrating activities. Unlike with most things you do in your daily life, you can’t just make yourself come up with an idea. There are, however, a lot of things you can do to induce a creative mindset and to maximize your chances of producing great and useful ideas.
Give Yourself Time to Think
You will never be able to induce a creative mindset if you’re busy and set to the same routine all the time. This is because your brain works in different ways in different situations. Basically, when you make yourself busy, your brain shifts activity to areas involved with problem solving and away from areas involved with spontaneous thinking. To think creatively, you need a strong element of spontaneity.
Set aside a good amount of time, at least half an hour every day, to just think. Don’t try to think in a structured way, as this will only stifle your creativity. Let your mind wander. A lot of the best ideas hit us by accident when we’re not actively trying to come up with them.
Let your body wander too. Doing some light housework (nothing too taxing) or taking a walk around the block will help you to think in a more innovative fashion. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Walking forces your brain to divert energy to its less energy intensive parts, which also happens to be the parts involved with spontaneous thinking.
Carry a Memo Pad All the Time, and Use It
Just because an idea seems intelligent in your head, doesn’t mean it’s actually worth implementing. The scientist Linus Pauling said that “the way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away.” The filtering process is just as important as the generation process; you need to examine your ideas.
Buy a small memo pad and carry it around with you, so that you can write down every interesting idea that you come up with. Quite often, you don’t quite realize what an idea is until you try to write it down. Trying to put your thoughts into words will allow you to judge how coherent your ideas are. Then you can read them and build on what you already have. It’s always better to have something to draw on rather than nothing. This is a method used by some of the most well known entrepreneurs.
Talk to Other People
A lot of people think that they need to be alone to be creative. Often this is true if you want to spend time thinking spontaneously; daydreaming is not really a social activity. However, bouncing your ideas off others once you’ve formed them can be extremely useful.
Firstly, an idea that sounds good to you might start to show its flaws once you try to present it to someone else. If another person can’t understand your idea, you probably haven’t thought it through properly.
Secondly, other people can provide new perspectives that you haven’t considered. Quite often a random remark by a friend can set off a whole new chain of thinking inside your head. It’s natural to feel protective of your own ideas and thought processes, but sharing with others can be the key to expanding an okay idea into a great one.
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