When you need to come up with an idea – for work or a personal project – do you have a hard time landing on one?
Click start to play today’s Crossword, where a Dostoyevsky quote in 5-Down inspires our hunt for strategies to generate great ideas consistently.
Developing solid ideas on demand may seem like a challenge, but it’s possible, if you incorporate habits in your daily life that determine the quality of your ideas. It takes commitment, and perhaps a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few habits you can adopt to improve your idea generation, according to an April 2018 report in US-based lifestyle website Medium:
1. Focus on consumption, not creativity
The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said: “Creativity is just connecting things.” So, if you don’t think you’re a creative person, know this – you don’t have to be. Instead, watch what you consume – the books, TV shows, articles and films you watch and read, along with the people you interact with, all inform and influence the ideas you generate. So, seek out interesting things, people and literature.
2. Talk about what you’ve learned
In psychological terms, the protégé effect is a phenomenon where teaching or just communicating to others something that you’ve learned, helps you solidify your own understanding of it. This concept helps with idea generation too. If you’ve read an interesting article, talk about it to someone, tweet about it, or write about it in your blog – it helps you absorb the idea in a deeper way, learn more from it, and recall it later, when you communicate it to others.
3. Capture ideas as they appear
The tricky thing about ideas is that they come when you’re least expecting them, and not necessarily when you want them to. So, develop a habit of acknowledging and capturing them so that the moment doesn’t pass you by. The system to do this can be simple – just carry around a notebook, or leave yourself a voice note or email.
4. Always ask questions
In any conversation, the process of asking questions and listening to people’s perspectives and answers can lead to new ideas. You’ll receive much more information than you would have if you didn’t ask a question, and the process will train you to look for different angles and layers, rather than accepting things at face value.
5. Study opposite takes
There is usually no one way to do anything – ask three people and they’ll likely give you three different approaches. By recognising that there are numerous answers to every challenge, you can make it a habit to consume conflicting ideas on every subject. By viewing the bigger picture, you’ll be able to expand your viewpoint, and the information you take in will help you trigger your own take on the subject.