Ideas run our world.
Unfortunately, there’s just no creativity pill to get that sudden blast of ideas. But there ARE some shortcuts.
Neither productivity or creativity alone can get you anything, efficiency without purpose is useless, which is so as to an idea without execution.
High productivity PLUS great ideas will make the perfect match.
The Best Tool For Generating Ideas
Here’s the truth.
Most of the greatest ideas are lost from forgetting.
Every once in a while our mind randomly pops in an idea for us; remember that last time when you thought you had an awesome one?
But you lost it because you never kept track of it.
Whenever ideas pop up like a light bulb above your head, NEVER put them on reserve. NEVER put them on hold in your memory.
Trust practical action, don’t trust your memory.
Have something? Immediately notepad it down on your phone (I suggest using a physical one with a pen).
The best idea generation tool doesn’t generate ideas in itself, but help you retain them and that is: the notepad.
These are deliberate mind-stimulating questions to help you generate ideas.
1. What if you were to die tomorrow?
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs
(read the whole graduation speech)
Death removes all barriers to entry, this mindset will let your mind flow freely without restrictions.
2. Immerse into a different time setting.
Time travel to the past, to different ages, different places. Or, time travel into the future and imagine the world the way you think it would be.
Immersion helps you brainstorm fast.
3. Immerse into a different culture.
Think in a different culture, different dynasty, different ethnicity, different country, different race.
As a matter of fact, question someone with a different background from you.
4. Immerse into a different habitat, environment, continent.
Spread your thinking with different weather, environmental factors and geographic differences.
5. Perspective thinking.
This is one of the 5 critical skills we should all have.
Tackle your thoughts in someone else’s shoes.
What if you were your mom, teacher, grandfather, brother, sister, Hitler, Stalin, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jerry Yang (co-founder of Yahoo), Genghis Khan or another all-time hero/villain?
6. Read success stories.
Success stories inspire and motivate A LOT.
When the combination of these two happens, it gets your creativity juices flowing.
Simply Google “[the category] + success stories” e.g. entrepreneurship success stories, innovative start-ups interviews…etc.
7. Answer questions in the practicality of sales.
- What will you sell?
- Who will buy it?
- How will the business idea help people?
Answer all the questions on the One-Page Business Plan (PDF).
8. Use the 5 W’s and an H.
For example for “writing on Mind Fuels” as the subject:
- Who: who will be my target audience on Mind Fuels?
- What: what should I produce for my readers?
- When: when should I write? When should I publish a book?
- Where: where can I feature my content? Videos? Other blogs and platforms?
- Why: why am I doing this? What’s my goal in writing for others?
- How: how should I craft my blog posts? How can I write faster?
It’s more about making the questions than answering them.
9. Debate against yourself.
Step into the shoes of your competitor or enemy and be against yourself.
When you get aggressive, all the infuriation will “force” your brain to find arguments and offending lines in all possible angles.
10. Trace back your thoughts.
All thoughts have a trigger.
The current thought you have right now must have a preceding thought. I find this task the most challenging and intriguing mental challenge – to trace your thoughts back as deeply as you can.
While doing this, I suggest writing all the traced thoughts on paper so eventually certain ideas can be interconnected, and that creates even more ideas.
For example (the list goes down as I trace back):
- I’m writing this blog post on the idea of getting new ideas (new ideas).
- I want to fill my blog with useful productivity-related content (productivity-related).
- The blog is to serve my audience valuable productivity resources (value).
- I wanted more people to hack against time while at the same I can sell premium content of my hard work (premium quality).
The list can go on.
Tracing back is step one.
But the most important step is to connect the dots together.
Out of my list, I can link #4 with #1 – which combines into: producing premium content on creativity.
11. Reverse your goal, intentions and mission.
Go opposite of what you’re actually trying to do.
- How can you ruin or destroy the idea?
- What de-optimizes the idea?
- What can you do to make it less attractive, usable, friendly?
It’s a psychological fact that people will pay almost 2 times more attention (and action) to save a loss than to gain more.
12. Peter Shallard’s 3 idea questions.
- What questions is no one in your industry willing to answer?
- What does nearly everyone disagree with you about?
- What do you believe will happen in the future that other people consider impossible or unlikely?
Read the original source.
13. What if money wasn’t the problem?
Money refers to resources, manpower, design, expansion ability and all factors requiring initial capital to operate.
A problem that can be solved by money isn’t a real problem.
What obstacles can you remove if money was unlimited?
Mind Refreshing Techniques
Rather than using stirring techniques to manipulate the brain for innovation, you can let it flow the natural way by allowing it to recalibrate.
How do you refresh the mind?
- Do unmentally challenging exercises: running, biking, swimming and more.
- Go to a market, supermarket and even the farmers’ market.
- Explore a place you’d never go or rarely visit.
- Check out places with lots of people: on the streets, shopping malls and more.
- Go observe how someone does his/her job e.g. counter sales, street artists, person handing out flyers.
- Watch the life of a beggar or homeless person.
- Take part in a new experience e.g. social services, being a salesman, go hiking and plentiful of more ideas.
- Observe body language, public relations, communication, human behaviors and all sorts of social interactions of the reality.
Hardcore productivity doesn’t go with creativity – you can’t combine the two.
Just enjoy the experience and don’t try to force ideas out, they will come when you’re least expecting them even long after the day.
How Schools Kill Creativity
You should watch this TED Talk (most viewed of all time) on going against the universal education system – that doesn’t work.
The Idea of New Ideas
“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Where is your cathedral?