Welcome to the last week of International Ideas Month, 4 weeks "dedicated to all ideas—large, small, great, not-so-great, past and current as well as ideas yet to come" This is the fourth and final post in a series. (Catch the previous posts at the bottom of this article)
Sometimes, there's no amount of pre-writing or drafting that you can do to get your ideas ready for prime time. That's when you've got to change things up. Stepping away from the ride frees your mind to think more clearly and figure out key elements of your idea before you take it public.
4 tactics to generate ideas and solutions
Here are four ideas I use to boost creative ideas and solutions:
1. Take a walk.
Seems so simple, but a little activity and a change of scenario do wonders for our brains (the rest of our bodies don't mind, either). Even a 5-minute spin around the office can help, but the best results, for me anyway, involve getting outside. The point isn't to necessarily think on your idea—though that's cool, too. Look around. (You might even see something funny like this alien tag I found in SoHo the other week). The activity will either clear your head, leaving room for your idea to germinate a little on its own, or refocus and recharge your thinking about your idea to bring it to the next level. Tip: If you walk with headphones or earbuds on, be careful about walking into the street. Seriously.
2. Catch some z's.
Our go-go culture frowns on naps -- especially during the workday. But I learned from my Dad, who came home for lunch and a quick nap every day, that can be a great way to give your mind a break. The background processing that happens when we slow down can yield great ideas. The trick is to keep it short. Twenty minutes is probably the max. I take a 13-minute power nap most afternoons, and when we were all working in the same office, we were known to lock the front door call quiet time for the whole team.
3. Listen to music.
Another way to shift your gears a bit that doesn't require you to leave your desk. Listen to a song—even one can give your brain the space it needs to work on your idea while you're jamming out. Pick your favorite tune of all time or one that puts you in a good mood. If you're feeling stressed, pick something that helps you relax, or makes you remember something calm and fabulous. Bonus: Make it a dance break and get your blood flowing as well as your ideas.
4. Work on something else.
When I can't get my mind to focus on a particular idea, I bag it for a while and move on to something else. This does two things: 1) Keeps me from getting bogged down and getting behind, and 2) lets my mind work on the idea quietly in the background.
Try these tips next time you're struggling with developing your ideas. Good luck!
- How to build support for and make change with your ideas
- 4 steps to build a rationale for your ideas
- Using pre-writing and drafting to get your ideas on paper
- A better way to suggest alternatives and new ideas