Where are you when you get your best ideas? You know the ones. They’re the ideas that make you wonder, “Whoa, why didn’t I think of that before?” Where are you and what are you doing when your really great ideas come to mind?
Researchers1 have found that some of our best ideas, our most original and creative ideas, actually happen when we are literally standing outside the box. That’s right, they actually did research using room-sized boxes and even shapes of boxes taped on floors. What did they learn? They learned that people are most creative when they are standing outside a box.
This does not mean you need to stand on your front porch in the pouring rain to get a good idea. Where are you when you do most of your idea generating?
For some, it’s while they drive. If that’s the case, why not spend a few minutes walking when you reach your destination? See if a breakthrough idea doesn’t pop right into your mind.
For others, it may be at their desk at home or in the office. Again, try a different space apart from your regular space. See what happens when you set yourself apart from your regular thinking or working space.
Use your hands. Researchers also tested the adage on the one hand or the other and found that extending one’s hands forward as if weighing ideas helped generate fresh thinking.
One researcher2 even learned that better ideas were generated when one’s hands were free. Put your iPad down, move away from your computer, leave your vehicle, free your mind and see what great ideas come your way.
1 When Truisms are True by Suntae Kim, Evan Polman and Jeffrey Sanchez-Burkes, New York Times, February 25, 2012.
2 To “Think Outside the Box”, Think Outside the Box by Angela Leung et al, Psychological Science, January 2012.