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9 Guaranteed Ways To Give Yourself Good Ideas

9 Guaranteed Ways To Give Yourself Good Ideas

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.

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 April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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