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Scheduling Time for Innovation

There you are, a wannabe entrepreneur, your pen in hand, a practically empty notepad in front of you. Your trying desperately to think of that next big idea, the one that will change peoples lives, as well as yours. You block out any distractions, thinking that if you focus hard enough on innovating, you will magically create something totally original. Hours, even days pass and you still have not even come close to thinking of something viable. You’ve done everything by the book. So why can’t you think of anything viable, much less life-changing?

Surprisingly, your problem may be just that: your doing everything by the book. There is no “by the book” in innovation There are no concrete steps. Steps and guidelines come into play in the execution of an idea. But when coming up with an idea, it is imperative that you let your mind wander. Innovators need time for free association, time to collect random pieces of information. They need time to mull over topics that interest them, so that they can approach them in ways that they have not been approached yet. The key to innovation is to find a need that people don’t know they have yet, and to fill it. The best way to determine what peoples lives need is to live a little yourself. Get out there, experience what life has to offer, and it will be much easier to think of something that it has yet to offer. Here are a few aimless activities you can do to help get those creative juices flowing.

Take a Walk
This one is the easiest, but also sometimes the most effective. We’ve all heard of great songwriters, filmmakers, and artists finding inspiration for their masterpieces while strolling through nature, so why shouldn’t you utilize this simple activity as well? You should take your walk alone, so there are no distractions, just you and sweet mother earth. Turn off your cellphone. This is time for reflection, not for Facebook.

Do Another Creative Activity
Do you play guitar? Sing? Do you like to paint? What about creative writing? Doing another creative activity can often incite inventiveness in another creative field. In fact, Steve Jobs was found the inspiration for Apple products’ sleek designs while taking a calligraphy class. So while your trying to think of that brilliant idea for a startup, strum on a few chords, throw some paint on a canvas, or just think up a funny joke. This will energize the creative part of your brain, thus creating optimal conditions for that much-heralded stroke of genius.

Listen to Music
This one is my personal favorite. Put on your favorite band, or just go searching for new music. It’s almost like collaborating with a musician on an idea. Their compositions, melodies, and lyrics will set the tone for your innovation. It could be a rousing, triumphant call to arms number, or it could a moody, self examining piece. Whatever floats your boat. Just make sure the music is propelling your thought process, not hindering it.

Whatever you exercise you decide is best for you, and there are many, many others besides the few I mentioned, make sure it is not too intense. The reward is not in carrying out the exercise efficiently, but in creating an inane distraction that allows your mind to go places that rabid focus cannot take it. So get out there and waste time. Your dilly-dallying might just give way to something more constructive than you could of ever imagined (before).

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