3 Ways to Harness Creative Ideas

hand drawing light bulbEver have that brilliant idea after the conversation or meeting was over? How many great ideas do you get while showering or brushing your teeth? Mine seem to flow the minute I pull out of the driveway.

Something about driving through wooded residential streets in my community or long stretches on the highway unleash all sorts of creativity. It’s as if the door to a certain room in my head opens and out pop clever thoughts and connections stored up there.

The hard part is my hands are busy and I can’t write them down. Also, I often have to focus on some non-creative task at my destination. Talk about an idea killer.

This means having to hold that wonderful brainstorm in my head while doing other tasks, which is stressful. Or, very often, by later in the day when I can give full attention to this bright idea, it has gone back into storage in my head with a padlock on the door.

If I am right, you struggle with this too. Here are three ways I am being more intentional about harnessing those thoughts and ideas to (a) keep them from slipping away, and (b) to reduce my stress level over worrying if I will be able to capture them later:

1. Use a voice recorder. That means keeping a digital recorder fully charged within arm’s reach in the car, or using the voice recorder app on my smartphone. The important thing is to designate some time later to replay and organize those notes. In the meantime, though, if I speak when the inspiration hits, I can relax. Often, that relaxation brings on further benefits creatively.

2. Keep a notepad handy in places where the muse often visits. That may be on the bedside table, in the bathroom, kitchen or even garage. I find that when my hands get busy on a less-intensive task mentally, like cleaning or gardening, that’s another time the ideas flow. Check out these ideas and tools for taking notes in the shower.

3. Optimize all reminders. Years before even sticky notes were ubiquitous my engineer father carried 3×5 index cards in his shirt pocket. When he had an idea or needed to remind himself about something, all he had to do was reach for a card and pencil that was right there. It must have worked, he retired with several patents. Today, we have our electronic versions, such as Evernote, OneNote and others, to record, organize and sync across all devices. I, personally, use a combination of putting reminders on my smartphone calendar and using colorful Post-it Notes®. Oddly enough, these aren’t actually where the brilliant ideas go. They are where I dump the tedium of daily life so that my brain is liberated for more creative thinking.

The point is to find what works for you. Experiment. Most of all, never let a good idea slip away.

Do comment and let me know what tools and techniques you have found that work and we’ll share. It just makes sense …


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