Aug 24, 2014

How to give life to vague ideas

In the biography of Steve Jobs, I came across an interesting point made by Jonathan Ive, Chief Designer at Apple. He says, "Ideas are very fragile, so you have to be tender when they are in development".

During the course of the day, your mind could be brimming with a lot of ideas. It could be a startup idea you want to explore, an idea for a book you would like to write, a thought process/framework you want to ideate upon based on an article you read recently, a presentation that you plan to give to an audience and many more.

These ideas can be very exciting to begin with but at the same time, are potential areas where we might procrastinate, due to their inherent vagueness.

David Allen, in his book "Getting Things Done" says that we tend to procrastinate on projects where we don't know the next action steps to be taken.

Living in a world of distractions and its inherent busyness, it becomes even more challenging for us to dissipate the vagueness and gain clarity on ideas that inspire us.

"Strike while the iron is hot" - extremely true for ideas. If you feel inspired, take small steps TODAY. Not tomorrow, not the next weekend.

I would like to share 5 tips that always work for me, whenever I need to make progress with my ideas.

1) Capture the idea then and there
Ideas hit us at odd times. So it's very important we capture it in a trusted system immediately. Many innovation experts suggest that we carry a notebook and a pen always. I would like to adopt this but for now, I use Evernote to capture random thoughts and inspirations.

2) Timebox with your idea
Cut down all distractions. Lock yourself if possible. Set a timer for atleast 15 minutes. Jot down all the ways by which you could take the idea forward. Do not judge or analyze whether it is the right thing to do. Focus on getting as many ways as you can to move the needle.

You can also set aside a definite number of action items (say, 25) and brainstorm until you hit this number. Again, do not judge. Be tender, trust your intuition.

3) Step away from your desk
I have experienced this in action multiple times. While doing chores like folding laundry, cutting vegetables or cleaning up my home, my mind keeps mulling over the idea and I get more clarity on the next steps I need to take. Taking a walk is also helpful, provided you could remember and capture your thoughts quickly.

4) Take a shower
This always works like a charm. There is interesting scientific evidence too which I came across in this blogpost. It talks about the power of being relaxed to get creative ideas.

"If you are in a relaxed state of mind, easy to distract and full of dopamine, your brain is most likely to give you your best, most creative ideas."

5) Universe helps
As your mind keeps chewing on an idea, you get answers and help from everywhere. I personally vouch for this amazing phenomenon which was highlighted by Paulo Coelho is his book "The Alchemist"

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

For a presentation that I'm putting together, my mind is constantly thinking about the structure, content and interesting stories to tell. And my social media feeds keep throwing me relevant articles around the same topic. The topic of universal consciousness is something I want to research further.

Hope these 5 tips were useful to give life to your inspirations/ideas. Would love to hear what other ways by which you make progress.

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