How to Effectively Brainstorm While on Vacation
“I get my best thinking done in the shower,” is a very common statement and sentiment. Why is that? There are a lot of different factors that contribute to being hit with great ideas when you’re least expecting them, but probably the biggest reason is simple: you’re not trying too hard.
No matter how organized or desperate you are, you cannot control creativity. Coming up with that next great idea that will revolutionize your company (and bring you fame and fortune) happens when you are relaxed and self-reflective.
And if relaxation and self-reflection are keys to effective brainstorming, then when you are on vacation is perhaps the best place to brainstorm. You are relaxed and not thinking about the thousand different things that occupy your brain while at work. Finally you have the chance to think deeply and critically about the work you do, without the stress of deadlines.
But just like when you’re in the shower, being unprepared when inspiration strikes often means you lose your idea and it is gone, never to be recovered.
There are ways to ensure that your brainstorming on vacation is fruitful and rewarding. Here’s where to start:
Keep a travel journal
No matter where you go or what you do, keeping a travel journal is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. It is also a place for self-reflection and relaxation, which helps to spur out-of-the-box thinking. Additionally, having pen and paper with you at all times means that when that light bulb goes off over your head, you’re ready to write it down. Alternatively, a note taking app on your smartphone can work in a pinch, but I still prefer old-fashioned paper and ink.
Don’t censor yourself
When your creative juices are flowing, get out of the way. Brainstorming is about stream of consciousness inspiration, not perfectly formed ideas ready to be implemented immediately. You’ve got the journal – just write baby!
Do something different
Expanding your horizons and challenging yourself helps exercise different parts of your brain that can lead to inspiration. Never traveled abroad? Get your passport and head off! You will be amazed what you can learn when you have to. A change of scenery opens you up to things you’ve never noticed before, allowing you to see your life in a different light.
Exercise not only keeps you healthy, but it relaxes you. If you’ve ever been on a run before you know the places your mind can go. After a good workout your body is relaxed, which allows your mind to relax too. A run on the beach, swimming with dolphins, or hiking in a National Park can lead to an inner peace and calm where inspiration lies.
Meet different people
Your routine at work means that you see the same people over and over and it can become stale. While on vacation you meet different people from different places with stories of their own. Sit down and talk with them. Share some stories. You’d be amazed at what you have in common with a person you would initially think is the complete opposite from you.
What do you do once you’ve had your great idea? You’re not at the office, so how can you bring your idea along so it becomes something more than just an idea?
Your first idea isn’t necessarily your best idea
Chase the rabbit down the hole a bit farther. This means that you shouldn’t be beholden to the first incarnation of your idea. Flexibility and adaptation are essential to transforming your great idea into something applicable when you get back to your office. Just like great writing is all about revision and rewriting, don’t be afraid of changing and reworking your idea.
Share and collaborate
Sharing your idea can be frightening. What if they don’t like it? What if they laugh at me? These are normal concerns. Instead of coming into the office on your first day back and immediately calling an office-wide meeting, take your idea to one or two colleagues that you trust. Bounce your idea(s) off him or her and see what he/she thinks. If your colleague likes the idea, perhaps you can team up. Two heads are better than one!
Has a vacation helped spur your creativity? What did you do to help nurture that creative moment?
Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing (www.amsterdamprinting.com), one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam specializes in made to order promotional pens and other items such as calendars, bags, and water bottles. Allison regularly contributes to the Small Business Know-How blog, where she provides actionable business tips.