The day-to-day hustle of running a company can leave you with little time for new ideas. It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in just keeping things running smoothly, but without the occasional burst of inspiration, you may find that your business is just coasting along rather than charging forward.
It’s important to make opportunities for inspiration to strike, and part of that is knowing when you get your best ideas!
As a creative professional with an introverted personality, I find that I get my best ideas when I’m alone, and in a situation where my mind can wander. I do my best brainstorming right before bed, right after waking up, in the shower, while washing dishes, or in the car. It needs to be a boring situation, generally. Going for a walk around the neighborhood is going to get me thinking about houses and gardens, not new blog posts. I have to put myself in a position where my mind needs to invent its own entertainment!
Not everyone does their best brainstorming in a vacuum though. You may find that your best ideas come from conversations. It may be the flow of ideas back and forth or just the ability to speak things aloud, hear how they sound, and get some feedback. Maybe you don’t even have to be looking for inspiration, but your mind just sparks off of what someone says and gives you a sudden flash of insight.
Others find inspiration in journaling or in spending time on a creative pursuit not related to their work. Sometimes distracting yourself can shake your brain out of its current rut and cause a flow of new ideas.
There is no one answer for how to find inspiration – which is why almost every interview with any creative professional ever includes the question “What inspires you?” – and there’s no wrong answer, either. If your best inspiration strikes when you’ve got an adrenaline high from weightlifting or while you’re eating ice cream or from watching your children play, that’s just as valid as any of the methods I’ve listed above.
It’s important to remember that you can’t force inspiration, but you can cultivate it. The more opportunities that you give yourself, the more likely it is that inspiration will find you. And the more ideas you get, the more discerning you can be about them. When “ah ha!” moments are few and far between, it’s easy to latch onto them and see them all as brilliant strokes of inspiration, but when they’re flowing in, you can pick and choose which ones actually match your vision for your company and make fiscal sense.
Now that you’ve identified your sources of inspiration, it’s time to make more room for them in your life. So how do you do that?
If your best ideas come while dozing, enforce your own bedtime or make use of the snooze button in the morning. Give yourself enough time that you can get your 8 hours of sleep and still have a little time to drift in and out. Keep a notebook by your bed for jotting those ideas down or record them on your phone if you prefer.
For those of you who do your best brainstorming when talking, figure out which friends give you the best inspiration and set up a regular date with them. Whether it’s coffee with your girlfriends or a weekly one-on-one meeting with that one brilliant colleague, make time in your calendar for those stimulating conversations.
If you need to be out in nature for inspiration, make hiking or other outdoor activities a priority on your weekends. It can be an amazing experience to find a beautiful, secluded spot, sit down, and write whatever comes to mind. I once watched the sun rise over the continental divide, notebook in hand, fingers freezing, and let the ideas flow. Obviously, that’s not the kind of thing that can happen every weekend (unless you live in Taos, New Mexico), but you can probably find an inspiring vista somewhere near you or a babbling brook or a sun-warmed rock.
Whatever it is you need to do, you need to acknowledge its importance. Treat your coffee dates or dozing time or hikes like you would treat a meeting with the board of directors. You can’t just ignore it or cut it short. Your inspiration, your muse, your creative process, whatever you want to think of it, is a member of the board. You have to value it, and give it time in your schedule.
How and when do you find your best ideas?
About the Author
AJ Reardon is a project manager and writer at Ani Marketing Service. When not writing blog posts for work, she enjoys writing blog posts for fun. Her cat thinks she should blog less and doze more.