Mindful Thinking: How to Make the Most of Your Brainstorms

Brainstorming; a crucial part of every creative process.

A few weeks ago, the branding team here at Go Local Interactive attended AAFKC’s 2016 Gas Can Creative Conference. The conference featured a variety of creative speakers including tattoo artists, advertising creative directors, CMOs, and even furniture builders. While the conference covered a range of creative topics, it got me thinking about where their creativity began – the brainstorm.

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Whether you’re rolling out a new brand, planning a tattoo design, or creating a business empire, brainstorming is a crucial part of almost every creative process. So how do we effectively make sure our brainstorms allow us to come up with the best possible ideas?

The following four tips are here to help guide you in your brainstorming process.

Fuel Your Body & Brain

Brainstorming, like any activity, can take a good chunk of energy. It’s essential that when you’re trying to brainstorm, your body is equipped with all the necessary tools. Make sure that when you’re trying to brainstorm, you have fresh air, a full stomach, and a clear mind. Don’t go into the brainstorm over-caffeinated, and if at all possible, do some prep work or find some inspiration that might help you with the process.

Let It All Out

We’ve all heard it time and time again. The age old tale that “dumb” ideas don’t exist. But the fact of the matter is, we have to get all the crazy ideas out in order to find the hidden gem. Stefan Mumaw, Director of Creative Strategy at Hint, reminds us that we have to start with the absurd ideas and then pull them back. When we start with small or average ideas, it doesn’t leave any room for those ideas to grow.

Think about it. Every great idea started absurd. Computers, smartphones, heck… even Pokèmon Go. It’s the ridiculous notions and the sometimes laughable thinking that keep our perspectives fresh. Who knows, your next “crazy” idea could very well be the next big thing.

Take a Recess (Well… Sort of)

We’ve all had creative block, and we’ve definitely all been in a time crunch to come up with the winning idea. So how do you brainstorm when you just, well… can’t? Take your brain on recess.

No, this doesn’t mean that you should give up thinking all together. Instead, take yourself out of the conference room and turn your everyday tasks into mindful moments. When you’re doing chores, washing your hands, or even heading to lunch, think more thoroughly about the actions you’re creating with each step. VML’s Alyssa Murfey, reminds us that our brains are still actively thinking during these everyday minimal tasks. Thus, making them the perfect time to get inspired and think beyond the conference room.

Ignore the Maybes

It’s no surprise that brainstorming takes time. Time that most of us professionals don’t seem to have. It’s great when we “let it all out”, but how can we do this when it could take hours to filter through all of our ideas?

The answer: Ignore the maybes. Seth Gunderson, Creative Director at Sullivan Higdon & Sink, reminds us that it’s important to ask the “how” or “what” questions when we brainstorm so that we can more effectively filter our ideas. Any time something “might” be a good idea, it means the idea probably lacks conviction or that we aren’t taking it seriously.

Gunderson reminds us that the more decisions we are faced with, the less satisfied we are. Since the average human makes 35,000 decisions a day, it’s more effective for us to throw out our ‘maybe’ ideas instead of continuing to weigh them as viable options.

So now that you have a few tips on how to more effectively brainstorm, think big. Remember that all great ideas start somewhere, so test limits and push boundaries in your brainstorm. Above all else, find what process and ritual works best for you. You and only you know your brain and your body, so start listening. Only then, can you be truly effective in your brainstorm.

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