Sometimes you’ll have lots of ideas: some will just pop into your head, others will be planted there by people who are trying to sell you something. Sometimes you won’t have any, you’ll be completely and utterly stuck, without a clue what to do. Either situation can cause problems so here’s some suggestions for what to do when you have both too many and not enough ideas.
One of my clients has what feels like hundreds of ideas a week – some are brilliant, others are bonkers but she can’t always tell the difference and gets distracted by chasing after the shiny new thing that’s going to change her life or make her a fortune. Most of the time what she really needs to be doing is focusing on getting her business stable, but we really don’t want to lose that creativity so we had to come up with something that helps her prioritise. The first thing she does is to stop and think about what the idea is going to do for her right now. What will it stop her from doing? Is it going to make things better or worse? Will it cost her money? Take up her time? And what good will it do? What’s the best and the worst thing that can happen if she doesn’t do it? What’s the best and worst thing that can happen if she goes ahead and do it? We’ve found that the answers to those questions help her to decide whether to follow up on the idea now, or leave it for a while.
Ideas can be too good to waste so you don’t want to forget about them completely. I find it useful to keep a note of all my ideas, however mad they may seem, and jot down when I think that the time might be right for them: that could be anything from next week to next year to some undefined point in time. I then put a note in my diary to revisit the idea stash and decide whether now is the right time to dust any of them off. In other words my ideas are not ignored or forgotten, they’re just parked until a more suitable time.
If you have the opposite problem and are feeling stuck there are a few things you can try. I find that the single best way to solve a problem is to stop thinking about it, go off and do something else, preferably something that requires intense concentration so there’s no room in my head for whatever it is I’ve been agonizing over. The answer usually comes to me over time, it’s as though the right thing to do just needs to bubble up from amongst everything else that’s going on in my head. Distancing yourself from a problem can also allow the emotion to subside and that is often enough to let the right decision emerge.
If it’s a creative problem, like writing a blog or a workshop, then sometimes just diving in and writing something, anything, is enough to get started. Breaking off and doing something else can also get the creative spark going – even walking on a treadmill has been proven to enhance creativity as reported in this recent BBC article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27186709
It’s often the case that two heads are better than one so kicking the idea or problem around with a trusted friend, colleague or mentor can lead to amazing insights.
If you have any other suggestions for managing ideas, or would like to a free session to discuss your ideas please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01235 861 311.