If you’re struggling to generate ideas for your job, a new business or just for fun, try out these tips below.
1. Look at that tree, walk around the mall, look under bridges
Sometimes this is as simple as stepping out on your front porch or balcony and looking around at the world. When you relax, ideas begin to flow freely through your brain. Consider a nice walk in the park or a visit to your local mall — sometimes animal or people watching can spurn some great ideas. Just don’t stare at any people for too long!
2. Talk to strangers
When you hang out or talk with the same people on a daily basis, you’re likely to hear several of the same concepts and thoughts. If these same people are your best friends then you probably chose them for their similar tastes and beliefs — that’s also prohibitive to ideas. Consider sparking up a conversation with a coworker you’ve never said more than ‘how was your weekend?’. Browse some of your Facebook or LinkedIn connections and say ‘hello’ — even tell them that you are doing an exercise for idea generation.
3. Read. Read. Read.
Books contain some of the best information in the world Reading also forces you to think from a different perspective and voice from your own. It’s Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot”. The logic is simple: the more you read, the more you are introduced to different viewpoints, stories, characters and thoughts — all things that will help bring new ideas to your brain.
4. Find random things on the internet
Take a look at the website StumbleUpon. I’ve used the site/extension since college to quickly browse thousands of different websites. It’s a great tool because it will take you to the edge of the internet (and back) — seeing sites you had no idea existed. And don’t worry, you can adjust the settings so you don’t accidentally find yourself viewing something inappropriate at work.
5. Keep a journal (or two)
I keep two journals: a daily planning and review journal and an idea/writing journal. I started using both everyday and I’ve definitely seen an increase in idea generation. Overall, the daily planner has helped keep me organized and goal-focused. The best things about my idea journal are that only I see my thoughts and they are no longer stuck rattling around in my head. Saying or writing ideas is one of the best ways to generate other ideas or critique older ones.
6. Meditate or pray
Along the lines of observing the world and keeping a regular journal, meditation has helped me find inner peace. Meditation definitely takes some practice, so don’t get frustrated with it at first. But, once you get to a practiced routine of meditating, you’ll be able to effectively clear your mind of troubling thoughts allowing happy and productive thoughts to roam freely. I try to medidate for 10 minutes in the morning before I get my day started and 10 minutes at night before I go to bed for a self-reflection period.
7. Find an exercise routine…and stick to it
Aside from my family, exercise is probably my favorite activity/thing in the world. I love the feeling of being exhausted but somewhat energized — it’s a weird state to describe — after an intense workout or game of basketball. Exercising does two great things for idea generation: it diverts your attention from trying to create ideas and it increases bloodflow. Both are great ways to generate new ideas from an otherwise stagnant mind.
If you couldn’t tell, most of these activities have one thing in common: distracting you from trying to create ideas. When you set your mind free you too will likely find a lot more ideas flowing freely throughout your brain!