Creativity may seem to come naturally to some folks, but that’s not completely true. Ideas – both good and bad – flicker and flit through our minds so fast that often we can miss them if we don’t train ourselves to pay attention. Our minds get bogged down with things that we have thought before. It is frighteningly easy to go through an entire day thinking only a continual string of trivial thought-bites such as: Pizza sounds good for lunch… Don’t forget to pick up the dry cleaning after work… Be sure to watch Lost tomorrow night… Dick Cheney kind of looks like The Count from Sesame Street… You get the point. If you are not careful, you may go through a day, week, or even a month without developing a single new thought or idea.
I have some simple advice for those of you out there who are feeling a little brain dead: Set aside 10 minutes a day to THINK. Really think. About anything. About nothing. About all the things between everything and nothing.
I started doing this on my trip to New Zealand a few years ago and have noticed the ideas really taking off. Sometimes you get clunkers and other times you may just grab hold of a real winner. I call these sessions “making Brain Rain.” Not quite a storm and not a drought.
After a few weeks of this practice, I found my mental energy growing and ideas really starting to flow. The truth is that the ideas were there all along, but I just wasn’t listening.
The keys to capturing the Brain Rain are:
• set aside 10 minutes, each and every day, no matter what
• have pen and paper handy
• allow yourself the freedom to think crazy thoughts
• don’t worry if nothing really productive springs to mind right away
• periodically scan over your notes from these sessions as things may pop into your mind after they have "marinated" for a while
• if no ideas pop into your head, then just pick a fun topic and doodle a bit
• use word association to get things rolling if you feel stuck – e.g., thinking -> thoughts -> mind -> brainstorm -> brain rain
Though this approach may not seem original, putting time in your life for original thought (not prompted by daily needs, media, or work) really is unique. I know it sounds silly, and I know it sounds corny but don’t run around on autopilot all the time and then bemoan that fact that you have no good ideas. The truth is that ideas themselves are neither good nor bad; however, thinking is certainly good and not thinking is absolutely bad. In my book anyway.
One last piece of advice: Be sure to carry a pad or voice recorder with you because once you start doing this on a daily basis you will find ideas literally overflowing. Capture them immediately or risk losing them.
Not convinced” Then commit to trying it for two-weeks and see if I’m wrong. I know you’ll be surprised.