Getting ideas is the easy part. Human beings have idea after idea without making any special effort. The challenge is how to improve the quality of your ideas and help them work for you. Here are five ways.
Improve Your Inputs
As one farmer put it to me “If you improve the quality of what goes into the ground, you’ll improve the quality of what comes out of the ground.” The same concept works for idea.
You’ll get better ideas if you put more good stuff into your brain. Improve the quality of what you read and watch and listen to. Think about who you talk to and spend time with. Maybe an improvement there would help.
The fact is that the more high-quality stuff you put into your brain, the better ideas will pop out of it.
Capture Your Ideas
You won’t have any trouble getting ideas, that’s a natural human function. What separates “creative” people from the rest of the population is that they capture many of the ideas that they get. If you don’t capture your ideas, they will flit away like butterflies on the wind.
For me, the easiest way to capture ideas is with a small digital voice recorder. I also use index cards for times when it’s not polite to speak aloud, like during the sermon in church. Many people use a small pocket notebook to capture ideas. Some folks use their smart phone.
It doesn’t matter what you use, but it does matter that you capture your ideas. You can’t do anything with them if you don’t capture them.
Review Your Ideas
One idea is great and two ideas are better but the real magic happens when you start connecting and combining your ideas. Make it a habit to review the ideas that you get. The way I do that is that I capture them on my voice recorder and then transcribe them into a Word file. Transcribing my ideas gives me the opportunity to review what I’ve got and it usually sparks more ideas.
Play with Your Ideas
Most good ideas come out unfit for making a big change. They need to be modified, linked up with other ideas, and changed so they work well.
When you have an idea that’s really interesting, think about how you could use it. You’ll find that the process of review helps you make even more connections that will be helpful.
Try Your Ideas
Our culture puts a huge emphasis on planning and not much on experiment. But prototypes beat planning most of the time. There’s almost always an experiment you can do to see if something will work the way you think. When it does, you can keep doing it and make it better. When it doesn’t, you can put it back into the compost heap to be used another day.
Getting a lot of good ideas isn’t magic, there are proven methods you can use. Improve your inputs, capture your ideas, review them, play with them, and try some of them out.