When do your best ideas come through? When is your creative inspiration strongest? If you’re like most, it’s not when you’re sitting behind a desk in a cubicle. It’s when you’re out experiencing the world, immersed in something you enjoy.
It’s common to think that work gets done only at your place at work. For many, it’s enjoyable to completely check out when they’re off the clock. It’s natural to want to go home, relax, and not have to think about work until the next day. But if you’re in a position that requires creativity, innovation, and thinking outside the box, it’s beneficial to design your life in a way that lets you capture creative inspiration whenever it strikes.
Ideas can come and go in a flash. A spark of inspiration can strike at any moment, leaving you with total clarity or motivation for what needs to be done. So, how can we best prepare to capitalize on these inspiring ideas when they come through?
We all have a phone. Most of us carry it everywhere we go. If it’s not in a pocket, it’s never far. When that idea hits, record yourself speaking it out loud. You might feel goofy at first, but this is a great way to record ideas on the fly.
If you’re more comfortable writing it down, do that! The phone is a perfect mobile tool to help store your ideas. Even if there’s no direct immediate application of the idea, keeping a running bank of ideas and inspiration will inevitably come in handy down the road. If it felt inspiring, chances are there’s some significance, even if you can’t see it yet.
Daily journaling is one of the most effective ways to collect and organize your thoughts. Non-specific stream of consciousness journaling on a day-to-day basis allows you to track how your brain is working through your life circumstances.
It’s easy to get hung up on not knowing what to write about. But there are no rules, the act of getting whatever is in your head down onto paper is what’s important. Without judgment or criticism, just write whatever is at the top of your mind.
Writing things down forces you to organize ideas in a coherent way that offers insight from an informed place. Giving yourself the space and time to do this helps you understand why you’re feeling the way you are. It can help identify how you’re thinking about your life experience, and what a reasonable next step forward might be given all that information.
If stream of consciousness journaling isn’t your style, try gratitude journaling. Think about a handful of things you are thankful for or happy about, and jot them down in your notebook. Making gratitude lists can also defend against negative thoughts and emotions, and help you see the world from a positive perspective, which is when creative inspiration comes in.
Whether it’s daily journaling, or keeping a notebook of ideas and inspiration, physically writing things down onto paper helps hold us accountable and gives us a better shot at manifesting ideas into existence.
Day to day it might not seem like much, but as you continue to do it, you’ll find improvement in your ability to convey ideas and think through complex issues.
It’s usually not the single strike of inspiration that holds all the answers. It’s the ongoing pursuit of clarity that yields the best ideas.
The brain has millions of fleeting thoughts. The good ideas are mixed in with the trivial, so relying only on memory to store the good ones forever is probably not the best plan of action.
Darren Hardy describes this idea in his book, “The Compound Effect.” Darren describes how small, consistent actions over long periods of time have greater payoffs than intense grandiose actions done all at once.
A little bit of something every day turns into significant progress over weeks, months, and years. This principle is as true with your intellectual pursuits as it is your fitness goals, relationship trajectory, and personal development. Keep chipping away, and pretty soon you’ll be in a completely new space.
You probably aren’t going to write the full novel in a single sitting. The process of writing a book involves doing a little bit each day. Before you know it, you’ll have all the content you need to put the finishing touches on.
Recording ideas works the same way. You can’t expect to have the full solution from the jump, but a little bit every day can provide big time clarity and breakthroughs down the road.
Take Your Work on the Go
You owe it to yourself and your employer to provide the best work possible. If you have the luxury of working remotely, you have some flexibility in the way you work, and where you work. Is there a way to switch up your work environment to foster more creative inspiration?
Think hard about the times you feel the most inspired or creative, and try to structure your day in a way that allows time for that.
If you’re working through a complex issue at work, chances are deep thought is required. Steve Jobs took many of his business meetings while walking. Something about the fresh air and moving through space brought clarity to conversation and ideas.
If you can’t do your best thinking from your home office, take a walk, work from a park, go on a bike ride, look at a scenic landscape; open up your mind to allow creative solutions to flood in, and make sure you have a way to record them when they do.