My best work is done at my desk, which is a clean surface equipped with computer, pen, pad and limited distractions… but my best ideas come when I’m anywhere but at my desk. Today I’m gonna “think out loud” with you about where ideas come from and what to do with them when they show up.
How often do you “think about the way that you think?” Since reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, I’ve spent more time trying to better understand the way I approach my work life, home life, efficiency, and creativity.
My best ideas usually come to my brain in places that are unrelated to the idea itself. I read somewhere about some left-brain, right-brain stuff that probably would offer scientific evidence to all of this, but here are some real-world places where I have ideas and why…
- the shower This is the place where I begin my morning routine. There are days when I may do other things before my shower, but when I hit the shower is when I actually “wake up” and get going. Ideas come come here because it is the freshest time of day for me mentally, nothing has happened, and rarely do I wake up without something on my mind….either yesterday’s unsolved problems or today’s schedule. It is the boot-up time for my brain and of course there’s no pen or paper handy, so of course it is the perfect time for an idea to show up.
- driving Driving is something I enjoy, especially long road trips. Generally the road doesn’t require 100% mental capacity, so as I focus on the road, other cars, etc… I’ll notice trees, signs, buildings, or other things and one sight triggers a thought which leads to a project I’ve been thinking about and out of nowhere an idea comes to mind. Every time I’m on a long road trip, it seems that I come away with several general nuggets of ideas to think more on later, and sometimes even a couple of solid solutions to problems I hadn’t intended to solve. Emily is accustomed to me asking her to write something down or type a note in my iPhone so I don’t forget.
walking the dog Walking the dog in the evening is a common time for me to have ideas too. This is usually a family event where Emily and I talk about the day at work and where Ladybug gets her exercise and does her “business.” Usually as I tell Emily about the things that have happened that day, she will say something that triggers a solution, or just by having to verbalize the thought, I realize a different perspective and a thought or solution appears that hadn’t been evident to me before.
- bed time This happens to everybody I’m sure. Just when I’m trying to go to sleep I’ll have a thought or remember something that needs to be done. This is my least favorite time to have an idea because it means I’ve gotta shut it out and risk forgetting about it … or I’ve gotta get up and write it down which means I risk staying up longer thinking it through. I’ll confess that I’ve not been 100% faithful to getting out of bed to write down these late-night ideas, but of course when my mind is quiet and the day is over is the time when something that had been lurking on the edges of my brain all day will come back and demand attention.
So where do your best ideas come from? I’ve limited my list to just these 4 because I wanna hear from you guys about where you are when ideas hit you!