Today I went an academic study skills workshop at my university on a whim. Surprisingly it was actually very interesting and introduced me to a brilliant new technique for idea generation.
A combination of brainstorming and mind-mapping, the technique is to get everything out of your head. It allows you to clear your mind and actually focus on what you have to do because you can see it on paper rather than having to think about it.
- Grab a pen and paper.
Focus on a topic and write or draw down everything and anything on to paper. You can use different colours, shapes, images and words to help this process. Make sure you ask yourself questions: who, what, where, when, why, how. Also include the 5 senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. The more descriptive you are, the better you can get back into your train of thinking when you wrote it down, like picking up where you left off. Also, being more descriptive frees up your brain’s resources to develop the idea even further.
- Divergent (Right Brain) Thinking
By combining random ideas, you can reach the most original, cheap, magical answer to your problem. We all know that original, creative ideas comes from combining existing concepts in a new way. With divergent thinking, we produce the pool of ideas.
Instead of taking obvious steps and walking on a straight line, you force yourself to see different aspects of the situation, using unusual points of view, no matter how abstract of absurd they seem at the first place. Through brain dumping, you’re gathering ideas that have the slightest relation to the problem itself rather than looking straight for a practical solution.
- Convergent (Left Brain) Thinking
Now we have all our information down on paper, it’s importantly that you analyse and evaluate these ideas. Most of the ideas generated might not be suitable, available, economical, or practical in any way. By applying rules and narrowing them down, we arrive at a single ‘correct’ solution to a problem.