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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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