Brainstorming effectively is one of the most wanted aspects in various jobs that involve mental input.
Brainstorming is also crucial for effective thinking in general. If you need to generate fresh ideas, brainstorming is the way to do it. If you have not heard about the word before here is a short definition of what brainstorming is from Wikipedia
“ Brainstorming is a group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution of a problem.
Even though the definition points on to group brainstorming, individual brainstorming is also an equivalent (or sometimes even better) form of brainstorming.
Before jumping into discussing rules for brainstorming, let me briefly highlight the benefits of brainstorming.
Brainstorming is good, because it gives an excellent opportunity to squeeze your brain for new ideas. It is refreshing.
You feel on top of everything when, at the end of the brainstorming session, you look at the list of amazing ideas you have got. It is also a good practice brainstorming not only for ideas but also to increase your brain’s ability to get more perspectives around a narrow point.
It is in general good for you, your business and your brain.
So on to doing brainstorming effectively …
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Brainstorming effectively with a clear mind
It is of utmost importance that you relax and keep your mind clear of any possible distractions while brainstorming. For the same reason you should choose a comfortable and quiet place where you can appreciate your flow of ideas without being disturbed.
A clear mind is the key to brainstorming because if there is an interference the ideas would just not flow and your brainstorming session will fail.
If you are doing it for the first time you may want to do a warm up first. This is very crucial in preparing for a brainstorming session.
Instead of jumping into the serious brainstorming session (it is not serious actually), you can do a little bit of practicing by brainstorming around different keywords or ideas.
See how you are doing and see if you are ready to do the actual thing.
Make it clear
Keep a clear goal. You should know what you want to develop and what you expect as a result at the end of the brainstorming session.
It is not advisable to have a vague goal. You should also not think about what to brainstorm in a brainstorming session – this is one of the most crucial rules of brainstorming session.
Collect whatever you think you will need to record your ideas. This is not an easy step to skip. This is indeed the most important step in brainstorming, since if you do not have the right accessory to record your ideas, they will disappear just like that.
If you are comfortable with using a pen and paper, just have enough of them. Some will want to use pens of different colors to differentiate stuff or tag their ideas.
Some are comfortable with images. You can also use a mind mapping tool to collect your ideas and thoughts while brainstorming and also to push the flow of ideas.
Some others would want to speak out their ideas and have a tape to record them. Have some snacks or drinks with you so that you don’t have to break in between your brainstorming session out of thirst or to refresh.
Open your mind with the need to brainstorm on a particular topic/keyword/idea and think crazy. Let the ideas flow freely and as crazy as a storm.
Do not try to interrupt the ideas. Never think about anything else while you are brainstorming. Just let the ideas come out and record them immediately.
Don’t criticize or work on your brainstorming ideas, yet
Don’t try to analyse an idea or criticise it. This will just put a big halt on the flow of ideas because starting to think if one particular idea is good or bad will be a great interruption.
Further, this will also interrupt your creativity. If you start to think that one of your ideas is crazy or ineffective, then you will not let your mind free.
Also do not start to work on or explore one particular idea. This will leave you with very less ideas.
You can adopt two different techniques to build ideas while brainstorming.
- (i) you have one main idea and find countless number of ideas, freely.
- (ii) you have one main idea – you brainstorm for a handful of sub-ideas – then build around each sub-idea, either in the same session or in different sessions depending upon the density of the ideas.
However, you should be cautious about the second technique since you will probably be inclined to exploring one idea too much and hence might leave a more valuable idea without much attention.
Once you have finished coming out with ideas don’t forget the one last step. Collect your ideas and organize them in a way you will use it more effectively.
Do not file them and dump them. Most often, people brainstorm more often, collect ideas, file them and self them; but they never look into them again ever.
Collect your ideas, organize them neatly, and place them in a prominent place where you will easily find them when you need them.
If you don’t need them in the near future and hence want to file those ideas, do so, but it is advisable to keep a separate place or shelf labelled ‘brainstormed ideas’ for you to look into any time later. If you put them in a general shelf among other things, you will most likely never use them.
Here’s a handy presentation I put together for you on brainstorming effectively >>