1. Relax And Take A Deep Breath
Breathe deeply through your nose for a few minutes and let the tension release from your neck and shoulders. There is some evidence that tensed-up shoulders and neck can reduce blood flow to the brain. There is a lot of evidence that creativity increases when we are relaxed.
2. Examine Your Assumptions
Anytime you approach a problem, take a look at the assumptions you and others are making. Challenge them, to see what you might learn. For example, if you are trying to design a new pet store, you might challenge the idea people have to come to see the animals. Of course they have to come to see them, you assume, but upon challenging the idea, it occurs to you that you might bring the pets into people’s homes, so they can see how they’ll do there. This might even be a great sale’s technique.
3. Ask “What If” Questions
Simple questions that start with “what if” can be a powerful way to generate new and creative ideas. For example, the question “What if books were free?” could lead to a series of books that have paid advertising in them, and are given away. Many free newspapers are profitable in this way, so it is a natural thought to try it with books. The idea is to ask many “what if” questions, and let anything come to mind to be explored for a moment.
4. Assume You’ll Have A Good Idea
Make the assumption that you’ll have a good idea. This is a powerful way to stimulate your brain, and a great habit to have. I have to assume that I’ll come up with plausible examples for these techniques as I write this article, and I am convinced that this assumption keeps the ideas coming.
5. Look For Another Approach
What other ways can you approach this problem? This is a question you should be in the habit of asking yourself. Suppose you are a landlord, and you have a problem getting non-paying tenants evicted. They stay forever, and you keep trying new legal strategies. Then you ask yourself what other approaches might work, and it occurs to you that you can pay them to leave. You still make more money because you get new tenants (who pay) in more quickly. Always look for other approaches.
6. Look For Humor In The Situation
The neighbors dog barks when you’re trying to sleep, despite your many complaints. You look for the humor in the situation, and find yourself wanting to bark at your neighbor. That gives you the idea to record his own dogs barking and play the recording very loud when HE is sleeping. Humor can sometimes lead to new creative ideas and solutions, but laughing is also a great way to relax, which helps you think better.
7. Play With Other’s Ideas
Albert Einstein once said, “The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Most ideas are not truly “new.” Don’t be afraid to look around at how others have solved a problem. Take the creative ideas of other people and adapt them to your purposes. While trying to spot a plain suitcase among a hundred similar ones on an airport luggage carousel, I saw a suitcase that had been painted bright colors. Someone needs to steal that idea and produce a line of bright, easy-to-locate luggage.