If you're a marketing or creative professional, your livelihood depends on coming up with ideas that will help bring in business for your clients and at the same time make you look like a rock star. Or maybe you're not a marketing or creative professional and just need to find an awesome idea to help your company or department. When it comes to ideation, there are some days that you're on top of the world and everything is just flowing. Then there are days where you can't come up with an idea to save your life. So what can you do when everything you come up with is just plain doo doo?
1. Get your brain warmed up with some simple creativity exercises.
This is just like needing to stretch before you exercise to make sure you don't pull anything. It's nice to do some fun creativity exercises to make sure you don't strain the brain. I highly suggest getting the book Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain. This book has some awesome and fun exercises.
2. Change your environment.
Do you have an uninspiring work environment? White walls and a cubicle? Maybe you have an awesome workspace, but you've been there for so long that you've just become use to it. It's time for a change up. Go sit outside on a park bench, a coffee house or another part of your office that you don't typically work at. Personally, outside of the office, I always love working at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). Sometimes working in a new environment helps get the creative juices flowing.
3. Search for inspiration.
Inspiration can be found anywhere. Check out some creative websites; go to the bookstore or library and browse some art, design or marketing magazines and books; or visit a museum. One of my favorite sites to visit is Creattica.com. I also love reading Fast Company magazine and visiting their site.
4. Know what time of day you're at you're best.
Not a morning person? Then why are you trying to come up with ideas then? There's always a certain point of the day where we feel that we're most productive. No one knows yourself better than you. If you need to come up with some killer ideas then take advantage of that time when you know you're on top of your game.
5. Step away and take a break if you need it.
Don't force the issue. If you're struggling to come up with ideas then step away. Sometimes stepping away for a break allows us to come back and look at an idea or problem with fresh eyes and possibly brain.
6. Brainstorm with a group.
1+1=3. Two heads are better than one. You've heard this over and over again, but it's true. A great brainstorming exercise is 100 mph of thinking. List the objectives, criteria and topic of the session. Then time your group for 2 minutes to come up with ideas. This exercise is about quantity over quality. Quickly write whatever comes to mind. No matter how silly you think it is. Defer the judgement of ideas until after the brainstorming session. Use that time to determine if the ideas are on point with the objectives and criteria you've established.