Brainstorming. Mind mapping. Idea generating. Thinking outside the box. We have a ton of buzzwords, but the idea is the same: How do you unlock all of the great ideas that are hiding in the depths of your brain?
My life changed tremendously last summer. I moved back to the US from Malaysia with my Iranian fiancé in June. In July, we married. In September, I started three new jobs. Summer has returned and, once again, my life is full of change. I’ve joined the Executive Committee of an amazing nonprofit, I’m organizing a conference with the state department, I took on my first freelance client, and I quit my job in order to start a new position in a refugee immigration program. Professionally, I feel more focused than ever. Personally, I’m still trying to untangle some knots.
DoGreat is the biggest unsolved mystery in my life . The site developed from my love of nonprofits–especially innovative nonprofits. Much of my happiness has always come from service. I wanted to share that special kind of happiness by helping people match their passions with a nonprofit. DoGreat quickly devolved into a generic personal development site, but that was never my intention. I’ve finally started to return to my original focus: providing personal development-style posts with nonprofit attached to each one. I’ll also be profiling people and organizations who are doing great things. To get my focus back on track, it took loads of brainstorming. If you’re feeling a little stuck, here are some brainstorming strategies.
Brainstorming for success
Find like-minded (and brilliant) people. I cannot stress this enough. All of my good ideas come from conversations with brilliant people. I may have an inkling of an idea, but I’m usually unable to fully flesh it out until I get feedback from friends. Find a brainstorming partner in crime and bounce ideas back and forth with them. If you don’t want to use your friends and family, utilize the power of social media and find a friend through Twitter or Facebook. I’m dreadfully shy, but I’ve made so many life-changing connections through Twitter. You’d be crazy not to try it.
If you’re brainstorming alone, go for total seclusion. Get rid of all distractions. Bring a piece of a paper and a pen to someplace quiet and comfortable. There shouldn’t be any television, Facebook notifications, phone calls or emails to bother you. I always think I should brainstorm using my laptop, but I end up on Twitter.
Start writing and don’t stop until you’ve come up with some crazy ideas. If you’re brainstorming solo, you can write down insane ideas without worrying about judgement. Maybe there’s a bit of brilliance hidden in something wild. Get as many ideas out of your head and onto your paper as possible.
Review your notes later. Whether you did some free writing or made a mind map, go back to it the next day and see if you can glean anything new from your notes. You might be surprised how much a night of sleep can change your interpretation.
Bonus: Have a glass of wine. A litte bit of wine might relax you enough to let your wildest ideas come out. Too many glasses and you’ll be too relaxed to think straight, so limit yourself to one–just enough to loosen you up.
Ruminating is good for your brain
Don’t put it off; grab a notebook and go do some brainstorming now. Don’t wait for your brilliant idea to hit you in the middle of an email reply. Pull it out now and get started on your next big thing.
I’ll be at World Domination Summit in Portland this weekend. If you’re going, hit me up on Twitter so we can grow some big ideas together. Expect some conference-inspired blog posts this weekend. Next week, DoGreat will be back on track with happiness through service posts.