The world has become so noisy and full of disjointed stimuli that I feel like many of us don’t often get a chance to just let our brains run wild–and that because of that fact, we’re probably missing out on a lot of really good ideas. So I decided that on those days in which I’m in my office, I’d make thinking my only task for a solid half-hour–focused thinking about whatever writing project I might be in the midst of, about my next Rémy Brick-Head comic…or about nothing in particular, with the hope that some new idea might present itself. I also decided that I’d decide upon a hard, non-negotiable set of parameters for this thinking time, so that I’d stay on task and not get distracted. Below are my self-defined “rules” for myself.
- All gadgets (my phone, my iPad, any and all laptops, etc.) must be completely outside my immediate reach.
- No music, no podcasts, no video.
- I set a timer for 25 minutes. I spend that time thinking, and doing absolutely nothing else other than jotting down some quick notes (more on that below). If one topic occupies my thoughts for the full 25 minutes, I’ll stick to that line of thought. Otherwise, if a train of thought stalls out on the tracks, I’ll just jump onto something else.
- All I have in front of me is a pad of paper and a pen. As ideas occur to me, I write them down.
- When the timers bell rings, I scan my notes into Evernote for easy access later–it even makes my handwritten notes searchable, which is incredibly handy.
That’s it. I can’t recommend this process enough to anyone in pretty much any walk of life. I’ve found that it generally keeps my mind sharp with respect to whatever topics I’m kicking around at any given time, and that lots of great, actionable ideas can come forth. Give it a try.