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Productivity / Innovation

Making space for generating ideas

Fresh ideas keep us motivated. But chances are these ideas won't come when you're stuck behind your desk. It is necessary to create time and space for generating ideas and creative thinking.

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While running a workshop, I talked about the topic of generating ideas to the assembled group of soloists. I began by asking the simple little question:

“What’s so good about having ideas?”

The responses were immediate and served to confirm the importance of generating ideas if we are to develop our businesses and constantly evolve.

Quite clearly, if we’re not generating ideas we’re not really moving forwards in our work or our lives. Ideas signal an increase in clarity. They represent a solution to an existing issue or are the beginning of a new direction or action. Ideas open up new pathways. The pathways may be towards added prosperity, greater success, increased wealth, greater satisfaction and so on.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t know here, but when is the last time you put priority on creating time and space for generating ideas? It can be very challenging to advance and grow at the best of times and yet here we are not fully respecting our own talents to solve and create.

"When is the last time you put priority on creating time and space for generating ideas?"

Next I asked the group to tell me under what circumstances did they have their best ideas. Their responses really surprised me. Here’s what came up:

“When riding my motorbike”
“In the bath”
“When I’m on holiday”
“When reading fiction”
“While cycling”
“When I’m swimming”
“When I’m painting”
“When I’m deeply relaxed”
“When I’m playing with my children”
“At the Opera or a classical music concert”
“In the shower”
“When I’m out walking”

Want more articles like this? Check out the innovation section.

Notice anything really interesting here? Not one person said it was when they were working! I was stunned. I thought one or two people at least would have said their ideas came while at work.

What this says to me is that if we’re to approach our work with creative thinking, if we’re to find new solutions to problems, we must prioritise time away from our desks.

I guess this is what the Dalai Lama was getting at when he commented that whenever he has masses of work to do he meditates even longer than usual in preparation.

Imagine that. You’re so busy that you actually walk away from your work to get clarity and generate ideas to lessen the work you have to do. Fascinating stuff.

So how do we do this? How do we introduce ‘idea time’ into our busy lives? The answer is really very straightforward.

Firstly we need to determine when as individuals we have our best ideas. Often it’s when we are outside and it’s frequently associated with leisure and physical activity.

There’s so much talked about with regard balance between life and work. What this whole concept confirms is we need balance within our work. Put time aside – block it in your diary – to do those things you absolutely need to do. What’s more, make sure all those around you do the same.

An hour a day, or an hour every other day doing something that releases your creative juices will be far better for you and your business than an hour stressing out over an action list or project plan.

Prioritise time for generating ideas and you’ll reap the most surprising rewards.

When do you get your best ideas? Share your comments below.

Robert Gerrish

is the founder of Flying Solo and helps soloists stay upbeat and energised. He’s recently published The 1-Minute Commute, is a presenter and facilitator and works one-on-one with those needing a refresh. Find out more about his skills and services and his Olympus Trip 35 camera side hustle or connect on LinkedIn.

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