Ideas are difficult. Everyone has some. But not everyone has enough, or enough good ones at least.
Of course, some are better at having ideas than others, but there are ways that you can find to help you actually have ideas in the first place. Some of them involve you creating space for thinking, whereas others rely on you distracting your mind and emptying your head. Both can work equally, but here are my five favourite ways to have ideas. My sure-fire guide to thinking creatively.
Exercise is good for you(r brain)
I have a lot of good ideas at the gym. Others get their best ideas when they are out in the countryside or pounding the city streets for a run. I find the gym boring, but I don’t have anything much on my mind when I am there, apart from times and effort. I usually have music on when I work out, but that is more a background hum than a motivation. It keeps the external sounds out.
Slower forms of exercise can be great for thinking too. Yoga is known for its meditative side, so it is ideal for creating the right atmosphere for thinking. All sorts of thoughts and ideas will slip into your mind as you try holding poses.
Travel broadens the mind
A little travel broadens the mind and it certainly gets you thinking. But, for me, the act of travel is more important for thinking than the destination. Waiting in airport lounges is great for being bored and opening up your thoughts. Similarly, being sat on a train, alone and with no wifi connection, is fantastic for open-minded thinking. I sometimes curse the easily-available wifi or good G4 connections on public transport, as I am prone to being distracted by emails and messages on my phone. So, be bold and switch your phone right off if you can.
Bath time for ideas
Laying in a warm bath is the classic place to have your best thoughts. After all, it is where Archimedes discovered one of the laws of physics. Even visiting the smallest room has become somewhat destroyed as a moment for thinking by our constant use of our smart phones. So, run yourself a bath, splash in the bubble bath and maybe keep a notebook to hand. Just make sure it is not your best Moleskine. You can even buy waterproof notebooks, which will save you trying to punch the passcode into your phone and then dropping it in the bath water.
Netflix and chill has become something of a millennial mantra, denoting a do-nothing evening or weekend catching up on box-sets, bingeing on pizza and Better Call Saul or Game of Thrones*. But staring at a screen that is not your work laptop can help to free up your mind and the content you are watching may even provide inspiration. I find that playing video games can be great for emptying the portion of the mind that I use for thought. I get to relax and keep a notebook close to hand. *The actual millennial definition is a tad more saucy.
For some, a night on the town can result in a notebook full of ideas by the bed in the morning. Drinking, dancing and chatting can release endorphins, take your mind off work and free up your grey matter for thinking deeply. Just make sure you have that notebook to hand if you plan on drinking a lot, or those great ideas will be lost come the morning.
Personally, I have an odd thinking quirk that is very much time-bound. I have some of my best ideas at the cinema or the theatre in that strange limbo time between taking your seat and the action beginning. At the cinema, this can include thinking through the ads. But at the theatre I can achieve a relaxed reverie in the five minutes between taking my seat (notebook in pocket, G&T in hand) and the action beginning. All sorts of random thoughts go through my head, with some turning into great ideas that I have used for clients. The bonus is that you get to enjoy the entertainment too.