How to generate your next great idea

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

 

If you answered “check my phone” you’re not alone. Now, yes, you may use the washroom or kiss your spouse good morning, but what’s the first real step in your daily routine?

Whether it be a phone, iPad or laptop, the vast majority of people start their day looking at some type of screen, and it’s absolutely killing their creative potential. Here's why. 

 

Break it down

If you break down your typical daily structure (i.e. hour-by-hour) what does it look like?

For example, wake up at 7 am, out the door by 8:30 am, start work at 9 am, look busy for 8 hours, home by 6:30 pm, watch Netflix and in bed by 11 pm.

This is the typical daily structure for most people, and it’s pretty jam-packed, so where did people like Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos find the time to create and build multi-billion dollar companies? The answer lies in the way they’ve structured their day. Here’s what I’m talking about:

So many of us live a purely reactive lifestyle. What does that mean? It means each of us is waking up, checking our email, and then instantly reacting to the “fires” that we think need to be put out right away.

 

Looking at your phone immediately creates inputs that your mind becomes preoccupied with, not allowing you the clarity or focus to let your creative mind unload it’s potential.

 

Instead of giving your brain the time to be it’s own boss and think creatively about potential business ideas (or whatever else you’re working on), you’re immediately throwing it into the daily rat race of keeping up with your inbox and dealing with other people’s problems, resulting in hours of lost time and mental energy. This is why the vast majority of people never maximize their creative potential or ever reach peak performance.

 

So many people never tap into their creative mind; it’s a true tragedy.

 

Perhaps you just aren’t aware it exists in such an amazing capacity - I know I wasn’t until I discovered what sets us 99%’ers apart from that illustrious 1%.

Here’s the key: in order to maximize your creative output (whether it be thinking of a great business idea, writing a song if you’re a musician, or writing a book if you’re an aspiring author), you need to structure your daily routine so that your peak energy periods align with your peak creativity periods

What does this mean? This means instead of waking up and immediately letting your brain get bombarded by trivial emails and text messages, give it time to be it’s own boss, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

For me, this meant starting a morning journal where I literally write whatever comes to mind–simply letting my brain wander, that’s it! You’ll be amazed at what starts to come out. You may start off mentioning the weather, or how you’re trying a new type of coffee, and before you know it your neurons are firing on all cylinders and pumping out amazing creative ideas you never thought possible! 

 

Process over Content

The important thing to remember is that it’s about the process, not the content.

There’s loads of supporting psychological evidence that I won’t get into, but in short, simply writing whatever comes to mind, no matter how initially trivial or seemingly unimportant, opens up creative pathways in the mind that go from small streams of trickling water to raging rivers. And since you haven’t yet let your mind get sidetracked with email or other external inputs, the mind is free to flow in whichever direction it pleases.

 

When are you most energized?

When we talk about aligning peak energy periods with peak creativity periods, for me, this is first thing in the morning or sometimes very late at night.

Think about when you feel most energized throughout the day and purposely schedule creative time during those periods. Even if it’s only 5 minutes in the middle of the afternoon, take a short break from your work and give your brain a chance to run wild.

 

How this has worked for me...

Since restructuring my daily routine I don’t look at my phone for the first 1-2 hours of each day. When I wake up, the first thing I do is my morning journal. Sometimes it’s short, other times it amazes me the creative outputs I generate; things I had no idea I was capable of. 

Since redesigning my daily architecture to allow for this undistracted moment first thing each day, I’m no longer living a purely reactive lifestyle, but rather a creative proactive lifestyle.

Instead of waking up and being distracted by all the noise, I’m now making beautiful music of my own. In a way, it also sets the tone for the day, allowing a solid creative dump thus freeing the mind to focus on daily work tasks; something which I’ve found has drastically increased my effectiveness and productivity at the office.

Following my morning journal from the hours of 8 am to 11 am I get more done within this three-hour window than most people accomplish in an eight-hour workday.


Key takeaway: stop living a purely reactive lifestyle. Take back control and give yourself the opportunity to reach your full creative potential. Even if it’s only 5 minutes each morning you’ll be amazed at the creative power you discover.