You may have heard of brainstorming, but do you know how to REALLY do it?
Here are my top 6 tips (and my secret ingredient) for getting the most out of a brainstorming session.
1. Get in the right place. Sit in a spot that makes you feel good. On the back deck in the sun, curled up on the lounge or even in a quiet cafe. Choose what ever works for you. Reduce noise to a minimum – maybe just some nice music in the back ground. Boisterous kids, husbands using power tools in the garage or loud gaggles of people in a cafe are not going to help you find your brainstorming chi.
2. Use a pen and paper. I know it sounds old fashioned in this day and age of computers and smart phones (don’t get me wrong – I love my iPhone). But there is something special about using a pen and paper. I think it puts your mind in the right space for being creative. It also takes away distractions – if you don’t have any ideas for a moment, you won’t get tempted to check your twitter or your favourite blog.
3. Ask yourself a great question. Ask yourself a good quality question. If you don’t ask good questions, you can’t get good answers. Rubbish in, rubbish out. Be clear about what you are brainstorming for. Ideas for products, business names, logos & business colours. – anything for your business. Make sure your question is specific, but still leaves room for a wide range of ideas.
4. Write, don’t edit. Start by writing everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about how neat your handwriting is, if there are spelling mistakes or if you write an idea down more than once. Once you get a flow going, just keep going.
5. Find your inspiration. If you can’t get your flow going, or once you have exhausted your ideas, look for extra ideas and inspiration. Look at magazines, blogs and websites – not just art ones, but also things like stationery, art supplies and homewares. Whether you are looking for product ideas, logo and colour ideas or how people market themselves and their products – this will help you grow your brainstorming list. It will also give you some great starting points for more of your own ideas.
5. Jump off. Once you have your list, go back through it. Use what you have as a jumping off point for more ideas. Clarify and expand on the ideas you have already written down. Look back at your original question – more ideas may come through when you look at your question as well as the brainstorming list you have so far.
The Secret Ingredient. Walk away. Yep, you heard me. You have put the question in your mind and while you may not be consciously be thinking of it, your questions will be ticking over in the background. Over the next few days, ideas will pop into your head while you are doing other things. When you are in the shower or driving your car. Be prepared. Have a pen and pencil with you ready to write down any ideas that come to you. This is usually when I get my best ideas.
At the end, you should have more ideas than you know what to do with. Pick out the best ones and work on expanding those. This not only gets your creativity flowing but can also boost your confidence, focus your direction and give you extra motivation to keep pushing forward.