Feeling stuck in a rut? Sensing that you aren’t making the most of your potential? When struggling to come up with an idea for a business or product, inaction is the enemy. Follow these simple tips to increase your productivity and keep your eye on the prize.
1. Treat the process like a muscle. Any creative process, whether that be brainstorming a new business proposal or writing the next great novel, is an act of practice and perseverance. Few and far between are they that can sit down and spontaneously create brilliant content with no time spent getting up to speed. So put yourself to work daily: establish a schedule and stick to it. Remember that everything you create needn’t be brilliant: you’re better off coming up with ten lousy ideas and one genius plan then you are struggling to ensure your output is continually unimpeachable.
2. Practice doesn’t make perfect—perfect practice makes perfect. It’s common knowledge that practicing a skill yields improvement, but how true is this in reality? Granted, you have to start somewhere, but an exercise in repetition won’t produce the intended result if the exercise itself is flawed. Make sure that part of your routine involves a stern, honest examination of your skills. Involve your friends if necessary—they are far more likely to spot errors in judgment to which you may be blind. And speaking of friends …
3. Collaborate. There have been examples of progress through isolation in the past, but by and large, innovation is the result of collaboration. So talk to your peers and organize a system of coaching and cross-pollination. Have frank discussions about each party’s unique skill set, and see how you can combine individual strengths to collective prowess.
4. Diversify the process. If you’re having trouble finding the inspiration for whatever project you’re currently undertaking, moving forward can seem an impossible task. The more you think about it, the harder it can be to overcome one particular stumbling block. Circumnavigate this pitfall by directing your attention elsewhere temporarily—you’ll find that when you return to the problem you are able to see it with a fresh set of eyes.
5. Get off the computer. We are a wired society, fettered to the devices that enable our world. But these systems can be counterproductive: studies show that people read hard copy up to 30% than they do electronic, and that data retention for handwritten material is nearly four times that of typed work. So close the laptop, turn off your phone and sit down with a fresh pad of paper. You’ll be amazed at the results.
6. Just do it. It may sound obvious, it may sound trite, but clichés are clichés for a reason. If you’re struggling to get off the ground the solution can be as simple as forcing yourself to start. Write a detailed account of your commute to work, or develop a plan for the perfect boardroom luncheon. The more you force yourself to think, the more your mind will remember that thinking is what it does best.