What do you do when you're struggling with a business problem that requires creativity? If you're like most people, you sit at your desk at the office and get to work on the problem. You chew on pencils, crumple up pieces of paper and take occasional breaks to pace or get another cup of coffee. But are the ideas really coming?
Some creative people can generate ideas anytime anywhere. But most of us have certain activities that get our creative juices flowing. If you want to perform at your creative peak, you need to identify these activities and use them to your advantage.
Sleeping and Waking
For some reason, sleep seems to bring out the creative ideas in many people. Maybe it has something to do with how the mind runs wild during the dream state. When you're dreaming, there are no rules and your mind can really think outside the box.
Some get ideas while sleeping late at night while others find inspiration when they first wake up in the morning. If you find yourself dreaming up your best ideas, keep a notebook by the side of the bed so you can jot as soon as you wake up.
Interacting with others is a great source of new ideas. When you discuss a problem with someone else, you 'talk it out' and often you can arrive at a good solution. You may get the idea or inspiration from something they say, or it may come out of your mouth during the discussion.
The people who inspire you don't have to be colleagues or business partners. Conversation with anyone can help. In fact, talking with someone who knows nothing about your problem can generate unique ideas.
Quite and Solitude
On the other hand, ideas may come to you when you're reading, meditating or otherwise enjoying the silence. Many people meditate for the sole purpose of stimulating their creativity. They sit still and focus on the problem, and the solution just seems to appear out of thin air.
Movement may help to jog your creativity. This is why long walks often produce great ideas. Some people find that exercise gets not only their blood but also their creative juices flowing. If this is the case for you, bring a handheld audio recording device or record your ideas quickly by phone in between sets.
The Most Mundane Activities
For some reason, the most mundane activities often bring forth creative ideas. When you're in the shower or heeding nature's call, a brilliant idea pops into your mind and you can't wait to get it down. Maybe this is because the activity is boring, allowing your mind to achieve an open, Zen-like state where ideas spring forth.
Your job is to discover when you get the best ideas. It's probably not when you're sitting at your desk 'working.' Identify these activities and keep a notebook or recorder handy so the ideas don't get lost.