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9 Guaranteed Ways To Give Yourself Good Ideas

9 Guaranteed Ways To Give Yourself Good Ideas
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Good ideas are hard to come by. They seem to strike us at completely random, inopportune times when there is nothing we can do about them.

I call it ‘Shower Syndrome,’ because that’s where my ideas usually surface; when there is nowhere I can write them down, and there’s ample time to forget whilst I’m drying off. But what if there was a way you could guarantee yourself a good idea? Places you could go, things you could do, to put yourself in a place where you can generate ideas, and be ready to take action on them?

I think there is.

And after years of trying to generate ideas, I’ve managed to narrow it down to nine sure-fire ways to give yourself an idea. Whether it becomes good or not, is up to you.

1. Disconnect

Your subconscious spends all day solving problems and generating ideas. It’s constantly running and doing the work your conscious mind just can’t cope with. But whilst we’re inundated with the day-to-day problems, the subconscious ideas can’t make it through to our conscious mind.

In order to allow them freedom, we need to disconnect from the real world. How you do this though, is unique to you: do whatever you find most relaxing. Whether it’s sunbathing, walking the dog, cooking pasta or listening to Beethoven, allocate yourself some time, and focus solely on it.

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You’ll find the minute you disconnect, the ideas come flooding in.

2. Go for a Long Walk

This is your quickest fix for a good idea. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a notepad in your bag.

Walking is proven to help you de-stress, unwind and connect with nature. All things that allow our subconscious minds to wander into the realm of rational thought. You can either give yourself the time to step away from the problem and forget about it completely. Or take the time to think and mull it over.

Either way, putting yourself in a calming environment and stepping away from the hustle and bustle will let the ideas flow. Just don’t forget to use the notepad to keep track.

3. Pore Over the Problem

Tackle the problem directly. Make coming up with a good idea your sole purpose of your day, week or month. Create an ‘Idea Dump’ so you can keep track of everything you’ve thought about and keep going until something feels right.

Having one idea (even a bad one) can start a domino effect, which keeps your ideas coming until you end up at the right one.

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4. Overwork Your Brain

Want to see what you can really do? Give your brain too much to do. Working beyond the problem gives your brain the power to overcompensate and you’ll find yourself with an idea in no time. For example, if you had to come up with ideas for an article, you’d give yourself the task of coming up with ideas for five articles.

Try it on something simple; you’ll be amazed at the ideas you come up with.

5. Go Against Your Grain

You know that one group of people you just can’t stand? Everything they say makes your blood boil. Everything they stand for is completely the opposite of what you believe in?

We all have one.

Delve into their stuff. Read their articles, watch the videos, follow the Twitter feeds – whatever channels you can best access it on.

Let it boil your blood. Let it make you angry, upset or borderline manic about it all. And watch your ideas come flooding in.

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Seeing the point of view of someone who doesn’t follow the same path as you can give you the spark of insight that your idea needs to come to the fore.

6. Read

You’re probably thinking, Well, duh!, at this subheading. But it’s a source of ideas that is incredibly neglected.

Reading is like a data key full of files of ideas you are yet to explore. All it takes is one word in the middle of a sentence to send your mind racing in search of ideas.

It doesn’t even have to be related to your subject, it can be anything: fiction, nonfiction, articles or blog posts. I once even had a business idea reading a cereal box.

Reading not only guarantees you an idea, chances are it’s going to be a good one.

7. Have a Shower

I called it Shower Syndrome at the beginning of the article and it’s proven to work. Showering allows you to completely disconnect, doing a repetitive task.

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Repetitive tasks allow your mind to wander and your subconscious to flow freely. Some psychologists refer to this as being in an “open” state, where ideas and thoughts begin to flow openly by being lost either in a problem or a mindless task.

Personally, I find the shower not only repetitive, but extremely relaxing. It makes for a great place to think. Thankfully, AquaNotes make it a lot easier for your ideas to not wash down the drain!

8. Forget About It

Have you ever found what you were looking for moments after you gave up looking? The lost remote, that missing button or the memo that should have been on your desk?

The same thing happens with your ideas.

Forgetting about the problem gives your mind the time to think it over whilst you’re doing something else. Given a little bit of time, the idea will strike you right in the face when you least expect it.

9. Solve Somebody Else’s Problem

Helping someone solve one of their problems can lead you straight to the idea for the solution to yours. It could be good karma for helping someone out, or maybe just talking to another person can provide you with the magic elixir for an idea.

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Help somebody break down a problem and piece it back together. Brainstorm their conundrum, and you’ll suddenly find yourself having great ideas all of your own.

Featured photo credit: Diego Dalmaso via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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