12 tips for brainstorming on your own the quick way
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Need to find some ideas fast? Going it alone? Even better. Brainstorming on your own is a quick and easy way to generate ideas. It’s useful in goalsetting and problem-solving, or for pushing creative boundaries.
It can feel artificial at first. But you’ll soon start using the technique whenever you need ideas quickly
A word of warning
In this article, we’ll assume you’re working alone. Later, after you’ve gathered your own ideas, you could join a group working on the same issue. That way, you get the best of both worlds.
However sometimes in a group, a few people can dominate. The leader must make sure no-one takes over, or scoffs at or criticises any ideas from anyone.
Everyone should feel free to add ideas, no matter how zany. Anything and everything goes.
Otherwise, some people can feel inhibited. In the end, good ideas may be stifled or lost.
For now, though, you’re running the show!
Here are 12 suggestions to make your brainstorming sessions as productive as possible.
1 Clarify the issue
The first step in successful brainstorming on your own is to define the problem or issue.
What exactly are you trying to achieve?
How exactly will you know you’ve achieved your goal?
Take the time to define these points, and save frustration later on.
Now you can start generating ideas about how to solve the issue.
2 Record every idea
A quick tip before you start:
Scribble all suggestions down so you don’t forget them, or record them on your phone.
Someone else could even write down ideas as you spurt them out. However, you’ll probably feel less inhibited on your own.
3 Turn off critical self-talk
Often when you have an idea, your brain vetoes it.
That critical voice in your head persuades you that your idea isn’t worth worrying about. You tell yourself it’s impossible, or stupid, or that you can’t do it.
But if your brain keeps shutting down ideas, you’re losing potential solutions. So now’s the time to put that critical self-talk to one side. Let go of any judgments about how good or bad your ideas are. Don’t try to judge if they’ll work or not. You can do all that later.
So tell your brain to stop making comments until you’ve finished.
And if it persists, let the comments fade into the background, and ignore them. This will free you up to spout more ideas.
4 Imagine there are no limits
Now you’re in the imaginative phase. Anything and everything is possible. Pretend that money and resources are no object. There are no limits of any kind on what you can do.
Pretend you know everything you need to know. You can call on anyone or anything to help.
Brainstorming on your own is limited only by your imagination.
5 Accept every idea
Just accept everything your mind comes up with. Don’t worry about your ideas being unusual or wacky. Sometimes these can form the basis of great solutions.
Anyway, you can weed out any that are unworkable later. For now, your only job is to keep generating ideas. Accept everything that comes up. If you practise mindfulness, you may have a better chance of accepting all ideas and letting go of critical comments.
6 Be playful and spontaneous
Give full rein to your playful, spontaneous, creative side. This is a chance to loosen up. Pretend you’re in a creative studio environment. Shed your inhibitions and let your thoughts go wild.
7 The more ideas the better
You want to produce a torrent of ideas. Fire out as many as you can, as fast as possible. Doing this will overwhelm your critical brain, and dampen negative comments.
In addition, the more you push yourself to get extra ideas, the better quality results you’ll get.
Sometimes your first thoughts are ordinary. They’re what’s on the surface of your mind, and most people would come up with these ideas.
New thoughts only come when you dig deeper. And the more you dig, the more creative they’ll probably be.
So if you want unique or different solutions, keep pushing. Aim for at least 15 – 20 ideas, depending on the issue. Break past those tired old ideas.
Brainstorming on your own can promote creativity – if you persist past the mundane trivia.
8 Build one idea on another
One idea may sound crazy. (Although you’re not judging!) But it might trigger another idea. And another.
Each idea can be a springboard you can adapt or add to. Let your thoughts speed off in all sorts of directions. Who knows what solutions you might come up with!
So don’t edit anything. Don’t veto anything. Let the ideas keep coming.
What if you’re stuck and can’t generate any more ideas?
Quickly read the goals you wrote down right at the start. Repeat aloud all the ideas you’ve had already.
See if you can make new associations with what you have already:
Imagine variations of each idea.
Could you combine two or more ideas in new ways?
Could you adapt ideas from another area?
Can you reverse the problem, or look at it from another angle?
How would an alien see the problem? What solutions could they come up with?
How would someone else in a different job look at it?
Or someone of a different age, culture, or personality?
10 Keep working at it
Come back to the issue after a few days. Your brain will keep mulling over ideas.
Read over your list, and try the process again. New thoughts or associations may pop up. Keep adding ideas over several days or weeks.
11 Evaluation stage
Once you’ve got a long list of ideas, it’s time to evaluate them. Now, and only now, is the time to bring critical thinking into play.
Go through your ideas for any that are obviously unworkable.
But don’t toss them away. Keep a record of them. See if any aspects or parts of them are useful.
Do they trigger other, more workable ideas? If so, note them down.
12 Use problem-solving
Then use your problem-solving skills to look at the remaining ideas.
Look at the pros and cons of each, then work out which ones seem promising solutions at present.
Which appeal to you intuitively? Does your gut feeling back up your critical assessment of their usefulness?
Discuss possible solutions with others you trust. After that, you can make a choice and put it into practice.
Make brainstorming on your own an integral tool in furthering your goals. For further help, read these articles on ways you sabotage yourself when goalsetting.