Walk your way to better ideas

Dec 15, 2014 | Better Writing

Need a good idea? Maybe you should consider taking a walk, or maybe several walks. That’s the premise of a fine Financial Post article by Craig Dowden. The title is “Steve Jobs was right about walking.” Here’s the money quote.

“Based on both the study and my personal experience, here is my suggestion: Before the next brainstorming session or meeting where you will be expected to “think outside the box,” make it a point to go for a walk, preferably outside. You may just find your ability to offer good ideas is significantly improved.”

Forget the Jobs reference. It’s really just there to catch your attention. The article is about taking a walk as a way to get good ideas. Or, rather, it’s about making walking a habit that will help you get more good ideas.

Develop the walking habit

Steve Jobs didn’t just walk from time to time. It was a habit. Ditto for Beethoven and Darwin and Dickens, not to mention Emmanuel Kant and Sigmund Freud. They took a walk when they needed inspiration, but walking was part of their everyday lifestyle, too.

Walking is one of the idea generating activities

Walking isn’t the only idea generating activity you can practice. Any activity that occupies the body but leaves the mind free will work. Here are some others.

Washing dishes
Doing housework
Taking a shower

Walking dissipates nervous energy

Your best ideas happen when you’re relaxed. The big advantage of walking is that it works off nervous energy. And it’s a relaxed activity itself.

Pay attention, this is important

“Walking” as we’re talking about it here doesn’t mean “walking while listening to an audiobook” or walking and doing anything else that occupies the mind. Just walk. Let your mind wander.

Have a way to capture the good ideas you will get. I like a digital voice recorder because you can capture your idea while you keep on walking.