How To Generate Ideas and Revamp Your Routines

How To Generate Ideas and Revamp Your Routines (Promotional Consideration Provided by Louis the Lightbulb)

Hi Medium! This blog post originally appeared at http://12monthsofstuff.com, where I am tackling a different project each month to get to where I want to be. If you think that’s cool, you can subscribe to the blog to receive monthly updates.

Time to go the way of the ol’ twofer, which is like a gopher that has a siamese twin. Just kidding. This month I’m focusing on generating 5–10 ideas per day and revamping my routines.
What’s that mean?

The Idea Generation
If you don’t have ideas, it’s impossible to take action. It’s literally impossible to do anything without them. The more you come up with ideas, the easier it is generate them in the future. Each day this month I am sitting down and consciously thinking of ideas. These range from wild start ups, to website hacks, to life hacks, to physical products that I wish existed. The point of this exercise isn’t necessarily to go and build all of these things, it’s simply to come up with them. The more you flex your idea muscle, the stronger it becomes. That is the overall goal of October’s idea generation. Don’t take my word for it. There are people who are much smarter, richer, and more successful than me who believe this too and have dug into this subject at length (like James Altucher). Give it a shot! It feels good to come up with dope ideas!

Here are some ideas I came up with this month so far. It doesn’t matter that they are vague. It doesn’t matter that some of them are impossible without some technology breakthrough. I’m still working out my idea muscles.
  • A pen-pal type website where you pay to get nice mail. People sign up to write letters and sign up to get letters, and they can be as personal or general as you want. (Who doesn’t like getting actual mail vs. bills, ads, and other papers that go straight into the gaping mouth of Trashy? [“Trashy” is what I call my trash can.])
  • A service to improve websites — automatically insert Skitch comments or draw on a page and send it immediately to the designers/founders/people who can make the change.
  • Food button. A button with a pre-set Chipotle or other fast food order for you to pick up. You set up the button for an order on the app, press it to order. You can change the order in the app if you are craving something else. Objective is to make it easy for people to order/pick up the same thing if they do “taco tuesday” etc. Wave your phone up to it and use Apple Pay.
  • An e-ink display that you can write on and syncs with Evernote and/or your computer. Bluetooth keyboard enabled. Objective is to avoid blue light at night and to be able to write at night.
  • Sync pics of books or movies or things I want to buy to Evernote in a “books” notebook or future purchase notebook

Revamping Routines and Hacking Processes
I’ve been wanting to truly discover a meaningful and powerful routine for a while, and stick to it. I’m determined to crack the code. Some of the ideas I’m coming up with are smaller life hacks — like having a “Books” notebook in Evernote and taking pictures of books I see in the store that I want to read. I’ve already started using that one. In settings routines, I’m trying my best to hack my way to the life I want to live. Setting a routine allows me to give my idea-generating muscles a break instead of flex them. Namely, my brain. (This is why I paired the month of routines with the month of ideas.) When I wake up, I don’t want to have to waste time in deciding what to tackle on my to do list. My routines and processes will do that for me and allow me to focus simply on getting things done.

Here is what my routine used to look like before I started 12 Months of Stuff.
Alarm goes off. Pick up phone. Scroll through Facebook. Scroll through Twitter. Scroll through Facebook. See friends who are way better off than me doing rad things with their life. Feel like garbage. Realize I really need to be getting on with my day. Rush to brush my teeth, shower, etc. Walk back and forth from the dining room to the bathroom forgetfully until I remember where my meds are and that I need to put in my contacts. Stumble out the door to start my day.
Me after revamping my routines and dreaming big with dope ideas. Jk, it’s just a cartoon music guy under the stars.

Here’s what it looks like now (for the most part):
In the morning

Wake up. Try to avoid looking at email/social networks. Brush teeth, shower, etc. Use 5 Minute Journal app to set goals for the day and be grateful. Open blinds to let in the sun. Make the bed. If something’s bugging me, write it down and write down solutions to get it off my plate. If there are no solutions, that’s okay because writing it down still gets it out of my head. Tackle to-do list.

Time varies
If I find my mind is too cluttered, or I start spiraling into un-productivity, I’ve been trying to meditate. It helps me re-focus my day and keeps me from getting too off track.
If I haven’t written down what’s bugging me I’ll do that when I notice it bugging me.

Here is what I want to improve upon and enact:
In the morning
Before doing anything else, meditate.
Write down any thoughts I have that may get in the way of me tackling my to-do list.
Define success for the day and rework my calendar apps to be more digestible and less janky. Maybe use Zenlist or Trello or something, but it has to be intuitive and not get in its own way.

Time varies
If something is bugging me in my daily processes or workflows, make a note of it. Set up a time once a week or so to fix that stuff. (Example: My folder structure on my computer is all out of whack because of a few misplaced “New Folders” when I started 12 Months of Stuff projects. It bugs me every day and I need to revisit it and fix it once and for all.)
Figure out a way to process and listen to new music.

In the evening
Read before bed. Use 5 Minute Journal app to recap the day. Stop looking at my phone at least 2–3 hours before bed. Make a list of tomorrow’s to-do’s.

In looking at where I’ve been and where I am now, I am more confident than ever to make my perfect routine dream a reality.

The keys have been tackling small tweaks in routines instead of trying to attempt a complete 180, and hacking my way around the things I want/need to do. If I tried to completely switch up the way I do everything tomorrow, it wouldn’t work. It didn’t work. I relapsed into the never-ending notification spiral pretty quickly when I tried that. For now, it’s one tweak at a time. To get myself out of the Facebook spiral, I uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone. What a glorious day that was. I still post things to my profile and pages on desktop, so I’m not missing any notifications. I still have Messenger installed in case people need to contact me. But I no longer have Facebook’s red badge of temptation calling me to endlessly, unproductively scroll through a news feed.

If you’re feeling “out of it” and want to tweak your own routines and get inspired here’s a few quick tips on where to start

  • For a few days, note the things that bug you the most. When you were feeling particularly “out of it” or “in a funk”, what were you doing and what would you rather have been doing?
  • Choose the one thing that has the most negative impact on you — the thing that makes you the least productive or the most unhappy. Try to replace that thing with something more on-track like meditating or goal setting, or simply something that will make you happier like your favorite hobby — knitting! (If knitting isn’t your favorite hobby, any non-thread based hobby will do as well.)
  • Designate a time every day when you dream up new ideas. These could be simple hacks like “Write a positive quote on the white board every day” or something crazy like “Umbrellas that turn rain into drinking water”.
Umbrella that turns rain into drinking water diagram.

If you do this consistently, I’m confident you’ll be able to take steps to get to your perfect routine and inspire yourself out of any creative draught. Just keep one thing in mind: The goal isn’t hyper productivity. The goal isn’t turning your whole day into one routine. The goal is to empower yourself to do the things you love, and the things you need to do, while minimizing stress and frustration.

In love and stuff,
Sam

Originally published at www.12monthsofstuff.com on October 15, 2015.

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