On the up · 7 October 2019

10 steps to sparking your best ideas

Coming up with great ideas
Inspiration never hits when people are sitting at their desks trying to think of an idea
If there is one question that is guaranteed to come up in conversations on creativity, it is Where do you have your best ideas Having asked that question to thousands of people over the years, I can say that topping the Inspirational Moments? chart is taking a shower, swiftly followed by walking the dog, lying in bed, travelling and running or cycling.

But far more instructive is the fact that, by comparison, inspiration never hits when people are sitting at their desks trying to think of an idea. This is simple enough to understand.

When we are relaxed and engaged in simple activities that we enjoy, we access more of our intuitive creativity and therefore ideas come easier. But ideas are just that without execution, and both imagination and engineering the result takes effort.

So, making it easier to get ideas and then turn them into a reality should be a critical focus for any business looking to innovate beyond the competition. The question is of course, how. There are ten guiding principles that help this process.

1. Just relax

The human mind has two main ways of thinking. One is with the logical, rational, analytical part of the brain, which we spend all our time using but which accesses only a small amount of the overall mental capacity that most people have.

The creative state, on the other hand, can quickly use huge parts of that capacity, but it is accessed by relaxing and having fun.

So, when trying to have ideas, get away from your desk to a place that makes you feel more human and that immerses you. Ideas will naturally come more easily. This will likely be very idiosyncratic and this should be embraced. Individual creativity is precisely that individual.

2. Talk it out

A sure-fire way to access a creative state is to head out with a friend or colleague and either sit in a caf? or go for a walk with them and talk nonstop at them about your idea for 20 minutes quickly.

Every now and again you’ll say something that feels interesting or is borne of genuine insight.

Many businesses now use this approach instead of traditional? brainstorming and weve seen such positive results that weve set this up as a Social Enterprise that’s free for anyone to use.

3. Sleep on it

For a week. If you need to refine a rough concept, try pondering your idea before you go to sleep. Then as soon as you wake up, write down whatever it is you’re thinking about. If you do that for five days in a row, you’ll find that the stuff that comes to you in the morning will become more and more useful.

The science here is fascinating this process communicates to your subconscious that you’re interested in what it’s telling you. And as a result, the subconscious begins to evolve, rapidly.

4. Doodle it

Visual representations of ideas are a superb way to get a handle on the first step in making them a reality. It really is as simple as getting a big piece of paper and some coloured pens and then doodling.

The critical point is to use the paper as an expansive tool to get stuff out of your head. In this regard, size matters. Make sure that the paper is at least A3, and that you have lots of it, so when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter.

5. Make it 3D

If pictures are a great evolution of words, then modelling is the playground of creative kings. If you are developing something physical, play around and build a prototype. The most amazing inventions have come from very little. The computer mouse came from a weekend modelling with a butter dish and a roll-on deodorant.

6. Get playful



Chris is a British author and entrepreneur. He is best known for his books ?Free! Love Your Work Love Your Life?, ?Wake Up!,? and ?Shine?, and was Penguin's bestselling author in 2014. His work has also been covered in mainstream press including BBC, The Guardian, GQ, The Sunday Times, and various other publications. In 2010, Bar?z-Brown established the consultancy Upping Your Elvis. UYE collaborates with Nike, Unilever, Britvic, Diageo, The Guardian, Mediacom, ITV and a host of others to supercharge the energy and creativity of workers. His tone is very personable and we have a range of material on energy, talent development, retention, reward and a host of other stuff.

On the up