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12 Brainstorming Techniques That Will Blow Your Mind

12 Brainstorming Techniques That Will Blow Your Mind

Brainstorming is the starting place of all good ideas. From “What should we do today?” to “What’s our next company logo going to be?” brainstorming is what gets you going. And although it’s so important, sometimes it can be seemingly impossible to think up new ideas. That’s where this list comes in. These are our favorite brainstorming techniques. Give them a try next time you have a meeting at work — your coworkers might just be impressed with your creative approach.

1. Do a SWOT analysis.

If you’re not familiar with this term, SWOT analyses are usually used by businesses to determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a particular venture. SWOT analyses are helpful because the categories are predetermined for you, giving you the opportunity to simply identify all of the aspects of your problem and put them in one of the four spots.

2. Move to a new location.

That might sound like a pretty lame suggestion, but it really does help. Sometimes, a new environment can foster new ideas. So next time you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, gather everyone together and change venues. If it’s a nice day, go outside. The fresh air will get everyone’s creative juices flowing.

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3. Do anything else.

Seriously. Think about anything other than what you should be thinking about. Go for a run, take a shower, play a game. Often, we come up with our best ideas when we’re not even actively thinking about the problem at hand.

4. Have a rapid-fire round table discussion.

In a meeting, go around the room and have everyone say the first idea that comes to his or her mind, and then write it down. This puts people on the spot, which can be uncomfortable at first. However, often the simplest ideas are the best, and this gives everyone a chance to contribute without having much time to think about their answers.

5. Keep a notebook on you everywhere.

We often come up with good ideas at the worst possible times. If you make sure you always have a small notebook and pen or pencil on your person, you’ll be more able to jot down those good ideas and save them for when they’re really useful. Many people keep notepads and writing utensils by their beds, because they often brainstorm in their sleep.

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6. Round table writing exercise.

In a meeting, have everyone write down their ideas for a few minutes. Then trade sheets of paper, and expand on those ideas. This way, everyone contributes and is brainstorming, so the work doesn’t fall on one person. This is also a good strategy because with multiple people working on the same ideas, there are better odds that they’ll be useable down the road.

7. What would ______ do?

If you need a jolt of inspiration, look to who you admire most. Many people think of their heroes when facing tough issues. By asking yourself, “What would ______ do?” you might just find the answer to your problem.

8. Be someone else.

This exercise involves you trying to look at the problem through the eyes of another person. Ask yourself how you would approach the issue if you were a different gender, age, ethnicity, background, in a different position, etc.

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9. Live in another time.

I’ve mentioned several times now that often the simplest answers are the best. This technique allows you to explore that. Imagine you have the same issue that you do now, but it’s 100 years in the past. How would you handle it? Presumably, very differently than you would today. Use your brainstormed ideas from this exercise and then apply them to your modern-day situation.

10. Change your budget.

How would you tackle the problem if you had no money? What about if you had an endless supply of money? Use these ideas as ways to build upon an idea that fits into your budget in reality.

11. Add on to your ideas.

Compile a list of your best ideas. Expand on each one of them. Write all of this down and see what ideas seem to be panning out the best.

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12. Live in another place.

Think about how you would handle the problem if you lived in another country or another part of the world. This could drastically change your mindset, so give it a go! You might be surprised by how well you can translate your brainstormed ideas to fit your project.

Featured photo credit: Waag Society via flickr.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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