We don't always have a lot of time to get done the things which we need to, much less be strategic and innovative too! At the same time, it's not uncommon to be called upon to be creative on demand. This is especially true during times of change and growth, when the old ways of doing things no longer are as effective.
So how do you generate ideas fast when you don't have a lot of time and the heat is on? It doesn’t have to be hard. You start with a little prep work when you don't need ideas at all. What? You didn’t do that, and now you are in crisis? Well, try these “no pressure” innovation approaches during unavoidable “down” time, like when you are in the shower, driving somewhere, waiting in the doctor’s office, etc.
Create an Idea Archive
The simplest way to stay creative is to make creativity part of your daily diet. Get in the habit of creating new ideas every single day. Start with a seed, something which fascinates you. Now try to come up with ten brand-new thoughts related to your seed. This might seem hard at first, but you're going to surprise yourself. The more you do this, the easier it is. I find this works most powerfully when I think about my next blog, class, presentation or workshop. I am always looking for the next “Aha!”
Read (or Listen)
Ideas need raw material. For raw material, you quite simply need to know stuff. Lots of stuff. By picking up books and articles and making a goal of reading absolutely everything, you'll start to gain a body of knowledge to draw from. Not sure where to begin? Subscribe to news feeds, podcasts, or blogs about things that already interest you. Browse bookstores and libraries. Page through magazines until something catches your eye. I get a daily inbox full of actionable ideas, and I set aside 15 minutes in the morning to see which ones to save, and which ones to set aside.
Did you know the act of drawing activates the creative sectors of your brain? The nice thing is you don't need to be an artist to doodle. Just let your mind and your pencil wander. Scribble and sketch until you start making connections. When we do this, even while listening in a presentation, we activate our entire brain, and amplify our memory retention, and build neural pathways between our conscious and unconscious mind – and the unconscious is the source of the best innovative thinking.
Are you trying really, really hard to come up with a fresh idea? Well, stop trying so hard – at least for a period of time. If you know you're going to be hunting ideas in regards to one particular project, make a point to stop thinking about it just to let your mind relax and work the problem subconsciously for a while. Do something mindless such as taking a walk or cleaning and let your brain turn the idea over for a bit.
Talk to People
Most of us have heard the phrase: Where we focus, we flourish. That’s even more true when we begin to articulate our thought process. It demands we stop repeating thought trains in our mind, and move the thought forward. For added impact, talking to people who are outside of your usual circle of people, and even outside your cultural or socio-economic circles, makes this more effective. You don’t even need to ask for their answers. Just share what you are working on.
Do Things Differently
Just opening a door or brushing your teeth with your opposite hand will stimulate your brain along new neural pathways. With this in mind, look for ways to break your routine and do things differently.
There are many more ways to activate creative and innovative thinking. One great tool is Roger Van Oech’s Creative Whack Pack, which includes similar exercises with fascinating historical examples. Whether you are looking for innovative approaches just for yourself, or inspiring your team, doing these activities regularly is a sure way to ensure that when you need ideas, they'll already be there. All with seemingly no effort at all!
Are you in need of more personalized innovation and creative inspiration work? Then set up a 1:1 complimentary discovery call with me today, and let's build your strategic muscle together.