Where Do You Get Your Best Ideas?

Published on April 15, 2013 by Eric Weld

I was talking with a close friend and business owner recently, who told me she was planning to install a water-proof notepad in her shower.

In the shower is where she tends to get her best ideas, she said. The warm water first thing in the morning opens her pores and her mind, like magic. Never fails. She often jumps out of the shower and scurries to her desk to jot down the great ideas she came up with. But with a water-proof notepad (such as AquaNotes Waterproof Notepad) she could just scribble her ideas without dripping water into her home office. Great idea, I thought.

trailIt started me thinking, where do I get my best ideas? I get a few in the shower, too, and I may install that AquaNotes pad, too. But it struck me the other day, while out on a run. When I’m running—especially on a trail where traffic isn’t a distraction—the ideas just begin to flow. They wash into my mind like a
creative flood, so fast that I can’t keep track of them all.

So I’ve decided to start running with a digital recorder. I purchased a second Sony ICD PX-312 Recorder ($59.95) just for the purpose (I already own one, for interviewing, but didn’t want to potentially ruin that one with the jostling and bouncing on a run).

Where do you get your best ideas? It’s important to pay attention to which regular activity in your life stimulates your creativity. When working in the garden, does your mind begin to percolate? While mowing the lawn, do you suddenly begin to brainstorm great possibilities? Is it on your evening walk that good ideas churn in your head?

Almost everyone has some daily activity, or something they do several times a week, on a regular basis, that, for some reason, gets their creative wheels turning. Cleaning dishes, folding laundry, mopping floors, pruning trees, taking a shower or bath, working out at the gym, taking a walk, brushing your teeth…

What is it for you?

Whatever it is, try to find a way to capture those ideas at the moment they’re hatching. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy treatise; just jot down a couple sentences or keywords to trigger development of the idea later.

Without the step of recording your ideas, you will inevitably let at least a few slip away. It’s very difficult to keep more than two or three ideas in your head at a time, until you get somewhere where you can record them later.

When I started carrying my digital recorder on my runs, it was an eye-opener. When I realized just how much valuable material I was able to capture with a (breathless) sentence or two, I was
astounded—and alarmed at how many good ideas I probably lost before taking that step.

Of course, every idea hatched on a run, or in the shower, or wherever, isn’t going to be good, or even viable. But some are. And by recording your creative ideas in the moment, you’ll be sure to capture the good ones and build on them rather than letting opportunities die off with your short-term memory.

And here’s the kicker: when you get in the habit of writing or recording your ideas in real time, it has a positive brain-building effect, and you will become better at remembering your ideas, and encapsulating them.

Gardening, running, hiking, driving or feeding the animals…whatever it is you do on a regular basis that sparks your best creativity, visit that activity as much as you can, and find a way to record what happens inside your head.