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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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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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