In advertising, those who come up with ideas are known as creatives. They are believed to be the people who can come up with good ideas. But to be honest, we are all very creative.
What has led for some of us not believing that we too are creative is simply the habit of thoughts that we have practised for years. And because some of us work in professions where there is little or no use of our creative selves, when we finally have to come up with that important new idea that we really, really need, it appears to be a challenge.
But that’s alright as our brains, our thinking, isn’t used to coming up with new ideas. But with little and continuous practice… we can finally call for that creative genius in ourselves to come out and do its magic.
Now, what I’ve learned not so long time ago is that, most of the successful people spend up to half of their working times specifically trying to come up with good business and professional ideas.
One particular person I personally admire is Richard Branson who spends up to 41% of his time on coming up with ideas. Of course, at his level of success he has an advantage of getting lots of brilliant ideas from other people. But the point is, he set time for ideas.
And Richard Branson is a good example because, as we are going to see soon, he uses a system that has worked for him for years… the same system that authors like Pam Grout uses, too.
Now, if you only have about 15 to 20 minutes to come up with a new idea, then that’s fine. Let’s see how you can use that short time to stir the creative mind within you.
1. decide what the idea is for
This is important.
Our minds like instructions… but prefers specific instructions.
Are you trying to find out what’s the best way to add more value to your work place?
Is your idea for supporting those under your leadership?
Is it about how to grow your business?
Or is it about how you can take your career to the next level?
And once you have decided this, then immediately jump to the next step.
2. decide when you are going to come up with this idea
In other words, decide the time for thinking your new idea.
This is important because allocated time suggests and emphasises your mind to focus.
Remember, you not only decide when the thinking session will be, but you also decide how long the session will take.
And once it’s time to sit and think about your new idea… don’t just do it in your heard. I promise you, by the very next day, you won’t be able to remember much about your idea. So here is what to do instead.
3. write down your ideas – no matter how random
This is where Richard Branson comes in.
He is known to keep notebooks where he jots down his ideas as they come.
Myself I’ve used this same system for years now. And even though I now have lots of notebooks to keep up with, I’m happy to say that all of my ideas – even those that pop up in the middle of the night – are safely recorded in a notebook.
So the point here is this: don’t write your idea on a piece of paper and hope that will help you much. And by the way, it’s not about losing your pieces of paper with your ideas on that I’m worried about. But it’s the time you will lose in trying to keep your ideas together.
Time is still money, and that’s why you not only time your thinking sessions, but you also record them in a notebook where you will be able to easily locate them some weeks later, months, year… and even a decade later.
Remember though, some ideas in your list might not be that good. Actually they won’t be any good. They may not even sound like something a smart person as yourself could come up with. But I guarantee you that months later, years later, you will re-read those same ideas and be happy that you took time to write them down.
4. obey your time limit
This is how you develop the habit of coming up with ideas – with discipline.
Our minds like deadlines and time limits – well, if they aren’t just the same things.
You can go on for a second idea thinking session, but you must acknowledge your mind’s effort so far by stopping and reviewing your progress after the first session.
Some days you will go all 20 minutes without coming up with any idea that sounds like something you really like, or something that reads like a good idea. However, some other days things will be different.
You will feel like you are in the zone, as if you have all these amazing ideas flowing. Well, if you ever feel so, I personally think that these are the days that you should go on for a second and even a third idea thinking session.
It’s important to decide to commit on creating the habit of coming up with useful ideas. And if you keep this a daily activity, soon you will start to come up with ideas that will make your heart sing.
Remember, it’s the ideas that really push people to work harder and smarter. It’s the brilliant ideas are the really engines of progress.