We all have ideas every single day. Some are bad, some are good, and some are mind blowingly awesome. Whether you own your own business or employed, or not, you will probably think about ways of doing things better, of coming up with solutions to everyday issues.
Whether or not you do anything with those ideas, recognising them and noting them down could help you solve problems, if you choose to. But even if you don’t, having those ideas shows that you are a creative person and you should be proud of that fact.
Taking The Idea Process Further
The “A-ha!” moment that occurs when you generate a game changing idea feels great. You feel like you’re on top of the world and that success is just around the corner. In reality, your work is just beginning.
Taking an idea from conception to fruition requires precise execution. This process is just as important as coming up with the idea itself. One mistake in execution and your once great idea ends up on the scrap heap of history and it’s time to go back to the blackboard. That’s why every creative thinker needs to be intimately familiar with the idea process.
The idea process begins before the idea itself. You see, the best ideas resonate with a specific group of people. These people are the idea’s audience or community. The ideas that will be the most successful are the ones that solve a problem the members of the audience are experiencing.
You could say that fixing a problem is an opportunity to succeed. Therefore, the best ideas are already being correctly executed even before they have been fully conceived. The problem you perceive among the members of your target audience is the first step in idea process.
The next step is coming up with the idea itself. This is not as hard as it appears. Once you have identified the problem that you want to solve, form follows function when it comes to the ideas you begin to generate. You want to produce as many high-impact solutions that you can, the more the better. At this juncture, it doesn’t matter if the ideas are crazy or bad or irrelevant. The point main point is production.
Next you want to whittle down all these ideas to the ones that best address the problem you have identified. Remember, you want high-impact ideas. The more thoroughly they solve the problem the bigger the impact the ideas will have on the target audience.
You then want to take your best ideas and convert them into projects for development. While in development, you’ll soon see that one or more of your best ideas are more feasible than the others, due to cost, size, difficulty of distribution or some other issue that was unknown at the idea creation stage. The idea that is most feasible during development is the idea that you want to take into production.
Once the idea has been produced in a final, marketable format, you can begin to profit from your work. Because you’ve used the idea process to execute your idea correctly, your profits should more than amply compensate you for your time and effort.
Let me tell you a story about my friend Mike.
Mike had a job in engineering. It was a job he enjoyed, but he felt unfulfilled. He had always been handy with his hands, obviously, and enjoyed working with wood and constructing things. One day, whilst on holiday in Lyme Regis, he was walking along the seafront when he came to a marina. It was there that he got his big idea – he would become a boatbuilder!
So he signed up for a course in Norfolk, to learn the tricks of the trade in boatbuilding. To help fund this time, he bought a house that needed doing up. So days were spent learning and evenings and weekends doing up his house, in order to sell on when he had finished.
You never know when ideas will come into your head. Whether they are life changing like this, or whether they are smaller but just as important, will you take action like Mike?
Tips For Drawing Your Creativity Out Of Hiding
As a creative person, that’s often the question we ask ourselves. What seems like an awesome idea one day, seems like a waste of time the next. The truth is that most ideas are good – and then there are ideas that are really great. The type that you know you need to write down on the nearest napkin, envelope or bathroom wall.
A whole series of productivity apps have surfaced thanks to the recognition of this pattern: Evernote, Notes, Wunderlist, and more – all evolving to cater to the growing number of entrepreneurial and creative people who at the least make note of their ideas. Even if they do nothing with those ideas ever again.
So, what happens when you find yourself in a slump? Your business or personal enjoyment may to some extent rely on you being an ideas person.
Here are three ideas that will help you drag creativity from its hiding place in your soul out into the great wide open.
- Spend time around different people
The world around us is made up of all sorts of people – and while most of us are fairly “average” in our day-to-day processes, there are always others who are a little different. Those bizarre people who rollerblade through traffic, dressed in a 3 piece suit with their dog running alongside.
People who behave in ways outside what we deem as normal will often give us food for thought. That is why movies and TV series are so popular. We live vicariously through them – imagining ourselves in a different life where the rules are almost the same as here in reality, but skewed towards unusual events happening at least every 40 minutes.
We are the result of the top 5 people we spend time with, said Zig Ziglar. So the more diverse company you keep – the more open your mind will be to different ideas.
- Read more
Travel broadens the mind – but if you can’t afford to travel or just don’t have the time for it, a book is just as good. It’s been shown time and time again that our brains can’t differentiate between what we read (see) and imagine – and what’s real. That’s why exciting books make us hold our breath in anticipation.
- Write more
There is something powerful about writing that simply cannot be reproduced when you type or dictate your thoughts. Just writing down your ideas gets them out of your head and into a “brain dump” freeing you up to have more ideas. When they run freely, it’s just a matter of sorting the great from the good – like panning for gold.
Get those ideas own on paper – the simple act of writing will help you remember them and maybe fine tune them rather than gathering digital dust. By using a beautiful notebook such as one of these from the Happy Jackson brand you will feel proud of your ideas. And much more likely to see some of them to fruition.
The 10 Ideas A Day Process
It’s not easy being creative. Yet, it’s not that hard either. You don’t have to be especially gifted to come up with brilliant concepts. You certainly don’t have to be a genius either. Anyone can have a great, game changing idea if they are willing to put in the work needed to arrive at that point.
You see, great ideas come from practice and persistence, not from talent. If you’re willing to do the work, the odds are that you will become better at coming up with ideas. The more you come up with ideas, the greater the chance that you will have an absolutely killer idea.
So, where do you start practising? Any comfortable place in your home will do nicely. Take your tablet, phone, and laptop (or, if you’re like me, pen and paper) and write down ten ideas on the same subject. It doesn’t matter what these ideas are as long as you get ten of them written down. Don’t worry about the quality of your ideas either. Again, the point is to get to ten.
You’re going to find that the first couple of ideas are a breeze. However, as you go on, you’ll find it will get harder and harder to come up with ideas. Don’t give up and don’t get frustrated. Remember, that creativity is like a muscle. If you don’t use it enough it lessens. Then, when you ask it to perform, it’s weak and flabby and hurts to use. At this point, your difficulty in coming up with ten ideas is due to a flabby creativity muscle.
When you get to ten ideas, you’re done for the day. Don’t do more than ten and don’t be critical about what you did produce. You exercised the part of your mind that you were supposed to exercise. That was the purpose of the task. The only job you have left is letting it all go until tomorrow.
Every day, you’re going to sit down and come up with ten more ideas on a different subject. By the end of a month, you will have come up with hundreds of new ideas and most of them will be bad. However, that’s not a problem because in only one month you will see a noticeable lessening in the amount of difficulty it takes to come up with ten ideas. That’s because you have been exercising your creative muscle and it is getting noticeably stronger.
Keep the practice up for six months and you will be a machine; a machine that is much more able to come up with that one idea that has the potential to change your life.
Idea Tracking Tools
Got another great idea? Time to capture it and make it work for you. A notepad and pen is a great idea if you’ve just woken and don’t have time to open up an electronic device, but if you want to really process ideas, there are a number of software apps that can help.
Here’s a few that range in both price and complexity:
Evernote has both free and paid plans. There is little difference between them except for upload limits. The app is available on Windows and MAC and on smartphones. It allows users to clip articles for future reading, save images and PDFs and organize them into different notebooks and tag them according to how they might search for them.
Evernote is hugely popular with people who work online, and writers, because you can build it as big as you want and everything is cross referenced.
Wunderlist is what it says – a list. Sounds a bit dull, but this list can have tasks, subtasks and shared lists that make sharing your to-do list a snap. You might also want to add a due date and have a pop up and/or an email to remind you of your due date for that task.
Wunderlist’s efficiency is a direct result of its simplicity.
This is more of a team app – suitable for business teams who work remotely and need to coordinate tasks between themselves to complete a project. It’s a much more intensive tool than Evernote or Wunderlist, but it makes it easy to see at a glance where ideas are being worked on and who is working on them.
This is a piece of software from an Australian company who have taken David Allen’s Getting Things Done process and turned it into an idea capture and processing workflow. The software is free and open source – available from Sourceforge.net.
It’s on every iPhone and iPad by default. What most people don’t know is that you can connect the two via iCloud and add check boxes so that notes and lists created on one can be seen by the other. It’s a simple, easy to use app that’s with you on your phone whenever you want.
If you are a Google fan and account holder, Google Keep is a nice free addition to their apps. Google Keep enables users to collect photos and notes, write down to-do lists, store voice recordings, organise notes and details, and more.
No – it’s not a digital app, but if you place a simple whiteboard in your office, you can jump up from your chair and actually write on it! Yes, some people are easily amused – but the act of physically writing ideas can make them stick a lot more than typing them out – just ask any copywriter who has handwritten hundreds of copies of classic sales letters to assimilate their principles.
Which method works best for you will vary according to your needs, and you may even find it more productive to use a mix of idea capture apps.
Books To Help You With Your Ideas
Here are a some books that I recommend you take a look at in your idea creation process.
If you are looking for something to inspire you and help you on your journey to making an idea come to fruition, then The Idea In You: How To Find It, Build It, And Change Your Life from Martin Armor and Alex Pellew should be your Bible. Gives plenty of practical and achievable advice, and feels like the authors are right beside you cheering you on!
Author Rod Judkins takes you on a journey where ideas are your strong point. Technology is constantly changing, so if you can keep ideas flowing you will strengthen yourself in today’s job market. Ideas Are Your Only Currency is a great book that will keep you ahead in today’s uncertain world.
There are more and more women realising that running their own business gives them the job satisfaction that can sometimes be somewhat lacking in employment. Carrie Green uses personal stories, tips and exercises to help you make those dreams a reality. With over 500 reviewers on Amazon She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas Into Reality And Become A Wildly Successful Entrepreneur is a hugely successful book that should inspire you.