Want to generate great ideas? You can. Ideas come to us every day, many more than we could ever use. We dismiss most of them, without making an effort to record them. This is unfortunate. We may dismiss an idea which would change the world.
Decide now, that you’ll give your ideas – all of them, no matter how wacky they appear on the surface – the respect they deserve. You’re a complete original. There’s never been anyone like you, and there never will be again. Decide that you’ll generate ideas daily, and that you’ll act on at least one idea a week.
Let’s look at some simple ways to generate great ideas.
1. Generate ten ideas every day.
The simplest, and yet the best way to generate great ideas is to generate LOTS of ideas. Out of quantity comes quality.
Pick a topic each day. Then, generate ten ideas on that topic, off the top of your head. Don’t think about it too much. Just make a list from one to ten, then jot down your ideas. Keep all your ideas. You’ll be amazed at the results.
We’re all creative. Sadly, mostly we ignore our creative intuitions. When you set out to deliberately generate a flow of ideas each day, you’ll strengthen your idea-generation muscles.
2. Read more. Skim books.
Use Amazon and its “Look Inside” technology to keep up with new thinking in your field. Skim most books, but download and read important books. Over time, you’ll become a thought leader in your field. Reading is vital to idea generation.
Vital: make notes on the books you read. If you read books on your ereader, highlight passages and add your own notes. You can find all your highlights and notes on your Amazon Kindle pages – click Your Highlights at the top of the page.
Visit your local library too, and browse books there.
The more ideas you’re aware of, the more you can combine ideas to create breakthrough ideas.
3. Draw your ideas to restructure them.
Can’t draw? That’s OK. Symbols and stick figures work well.
This article Hand-Sketching: Things You Didn’t Know Your Doodles Could Accomplish encourages hand-sketching to externalize your ideas.
The article reports:
Restructuring transforms one configuration into another, and in scientific studies, advanced hand-sketchers score highest at restructuring when they are allowed to sketch. In an experiment by Verstijnen, sketchers were shown to be better than non-sketchers at modifying their initial ideas and coming up with novel changes.
Try it. Many creative people doodle, often without realizing that they’re doing it. You can doodle deliberately to generate fresh ideas from combinations of ideas.
4. Distance yourself psychologically to generate better ideas.
An article in Scientific American on an easy way to increase creativity recommends inducing psychological distance, to be able to think more abstractly:
An abstract representation, on the other hand, might refer to the corn plant as a source of energy or as a fast growing plant. These more abstract thoughts might lead us to contemplate other, less common uses for corn, such as a source for ethanol, or to use the plant to create mazes for children.
The article reports that studies “suggest that even minimal cues of psychological distance can make us more creative.”
Imagine the topic for which you’re generating ideas to be geographically further away from you. This is easy to do. Think of a topic: for example, how to get your boss to give you a raise. Now imagine your boss on the other side of the globe, and generate a list of ten ideas.
It’s easy to test whether psychological distance helps you to come up with great ideas.
5. Become more social.
When you meet and chat with new people, whether online or offline, you’re exposed to new ways of thinking. You’re also able to restructure and reframe your own experiences. You may find that when you describe a current challenge to someone who doesn’t know you well, you come up with some great ideas for solutions.
6. Break your patterns.
You’ve established patterns of behavior and thought over time. Deliberately start to change those patterns.
Think about a current challenge you have. Let’s say you want some capital to invest in a friend’s new venture. You don’t have any money. Formerly, you might have shrugged this off, deciding to forget this opportunity.
You write down: “capital to invest.” You list ten ways of finding investment funds, finally deciding that you’ll set up a Kickstarter campaign. Your contribution to your friend’s venture will be the time and energy you put into crowd-funding.
Breaking old patterns is hard, but not impossible. Whenever you think “no,” describe the problem or opportunity. Writing things down, and coming up with ideas ensures that you will, sooner or later, come up with great ideas.
Try these six simple ways to generate great ideas. One method is sure to work for you. Start generating ideas today.