The secret to great ideas (and fix your home in the process)

During a recent RSS reading session I found an article called “You Can Learn To Be The Next Steve Jobs: Nine Ways To Become A Visionary”.

While I was expecting a typical rant about having passion, looking years ahead of the competition and thinking outside of the box, it actually had some solid advice. One of the nine points especially stuck out for me:

No 2: Do a daily brainstorming session on ANYTHING. Eventually, you’ll apply this to your business but start with whatever is outside your window or something you see on your commute. Pick a question and start writing down ideas like: “How would I improve the lawn care business?” Or “What other items would people buy at the coffee shop?” Don’t stop until you reach 50 ideas. Don’t filter. No matter how wild or stupid, write it down.

I have recently been thinking about ways to increase my mental sharpness, become more creative and let my thoughts fly. This seemed like a natural thing to do.

Phil McKinney, an innovation consultant and the former CTO of HP’s PC division says:

“The first third of your ideas will be obvious, the second third will be challenging. The final third are really hard and where the diamonds are

Yesterday I gave it a go with “25 things to improve in the apartment” to ease myself into the process. I didn’t expect the results to be this good nor that I would actually do any of them.

Many of the ideas were obvious, some were silly and a select few were especially great.

We recently bought a Roomba (called Mr. Roomba) to help keep the apartment clean. While awesome, it always got stuck under the middle of the bed. Thus, like a puppy, it was to keep out of the bedroom. One of the items on the list was to fix this.

Another one was an idea to dismantle a table in the bedroom that’s never used, is always full of crap and takes up a lot of space. Before making the list I never thought this way. It has always been the untouchable bedroom table (that’s full of crap). Now it’s gone, the bedroom has more space and looks a lot nicer.

In addition the dismantled pieces fit perfectly under the bed, preventing the roomba from getting stuck. Two unrelated problems solved simultaneously!

By the end of the evening we finished 4 out of 25 in the list. Another 10 will be finished after a weekend trip to IKEA and the dumpster (probably not in that order).

As an unexpected bonus, that night before falling asleep I got many insights about other problems that had been bugging me for a while.

I encourage everyone who wants to be more creative to try this out. Start today. Come up with a list of 25, 50 or 100 answers to some problem. Do it every day. Start with simple ones like “25 things to improve around the house”, “50 ways to make my day more productive”, “50 things to tell my colleagues”, “50 hobbies I always wanted to have”… and then move on to solving world hunger. Imagine what you will come up with in a year.

My list for today: “50 lists I can brainstorm about”.

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