A couple months ago I picked up a book by Todd Henry called The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. And while no one in my life has been asking me about the source of my newfound brilliance, I did enjoy Henry’s practical approach. Essentially, the book is a set of practices derived from the author’s life and work that will help you cultivate ideas and creative solutions. If that sounds appealing to you, the book is worth a read.
One practice Henry recommends in The Accidental Creative is idea time. “If you want to have a lot of great ideas,” Henry writes, “you need to structure formal time into your life to generate them.” He goes on to say that when he gives a talk, he asks his audience to raise their hands if great ideas are vital to their careers or organizations. Most folks raise their hands. Then Henry asks the audience to raise their hands if they dedicate time that week to generating ideas. At most, a hand or two is raised.
That’s the disconnect that encouraged me to being incorporating idea time into my weekly schedule. Four weeks into this practice, I love it and I think you will, too.
It’s simple: block off an hour a week on your calendar and dedicate it to generating ideas. In preparation for idea time, it’s helpful to identify two or three major projects or areas that are in need of ideas. When your hour begins, shut down everything except that which is conducive to generating ideas for your major projects. Personally, I like a blank page in a notebook, a nice pen, and some music. Hopefully, at the end of your idea time you’re energized by the change of pace and the page full of ideas.
I know you’re busy — most of us are — which can make the prospect of blocking off an entire hour seem daunting. I understand, but I’d still encourage you to try it. You may find that an hour invested in idea time saves you several hours of spinning your wheels throughout the rest of the week.
So, idea time — give it a shot. And if it just so happens that you come up with a world-changing idea during your idea time, remember to include your old pal Scott in a share of the credit (and any subsequent revenue).