27 Ways to Fuel Your Imagination And Come Up With Great Ideas

March 24, 2008

Image by AllSpice

When you’re first learning about business, it may be tempting to read nothing but business books, blogs and articles. But to succeed, you also need to do activities that will fuel your imagination and enable you to come up with great ideas. And here’s 27 things you can do to enhance your imagination now:

Meditation: Even if you only meditate for 10 minutes at a time, you’ll soon begin to feel the benefits. If you think meditation may not be for you, because you find it difficult to switch off, don’t worry - many people feel like that to begin with. But, once you’ve done it a few times, it gets easier and it really does work.

Never tried meditating before? Don’t worry, it’s easy to learn. Check out these great resources:

How To Meditate: What You Didn’t Know About Empty Mind Techniques And Your Bliss.

8 Minute Meditation

Get Out Of Your Body:
Astral Travel is something I’ve only skimmed the surface of so far. It involves leaving your physical body behind to explore this world and also the Astral Planes. It takes quite a bit of practise, but it’s worth trying and it’s certainly a great way to boost your imagination.

Some people worry about the safety aspect of Astral Travel. So far as I’m aware, it’s quite safe. Try doing it when you have some peace and quiet though and if you share a bed, don’t do it when someone else is lying beside you. If they move about too much, you’ll wind up back in your physical body faster than you can say, “Quit snoring.”

If Astral Travel is something that appeals to you, you can learn more about it in: Our Ultimate Reality

Morning Writing: If I’m looking to come up with an idea, or a solution to a particular problem, I’ll think about it before falling asleep. Then as soon as I wake up in the morning, I’ll begin to write whatever comes out. This can work really well, as your subconscious mind still functions whilst you’re asleep.

You can write by hand, or on your computer - whichever feels best for you. The important thing is to begin as soon as you wake up. If you’re a coffee junky like me, just flick on the switch and get your coffee when you’re done writing. It’s much easier than it sounds once you’ve got into the swing of writing this way.

If you enjoy morning writing, I recommend checking out The Artists Way for more great ways to boost your creativity.

Get Into The Flow: Can you imagine experiencing a state where your work is a pure joy and your day flies by, no matter how hard you work? To do this, you need to get into the flow. And Jonathan Fields explains how to do that in this great article.

Exercise: Any exercise that allows your mind to wander whilst you’re doing it is good. Do what feels right for you. My preferences are walking and swimming.

Image by AllSpice

Self Hypnosis:
A great self hypnosis CD or download can really help to stimulate your imagination. Here’s a link to the downloads that I use regularly.

Doing Something Different: Try doing an activity you’ve never done before. It might just open your mind up to new ideas. What about a sporting activity such as climbing or kayaking? You could even try your hand at painting, or a dance class. The possibilities are endless. And you have nothing to lose. If you don’t enjoy it, you can always try something else.

Read Stuff You Don’t Usually Read:
Reading materials on a topic you know nothing about is a great way to expand your knowledge and enhance your imagination. If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a few ideas:

National Geographic
The History Channel
Science Mag
Unesco Culture

Talk To New People:
Talking to people is a great way to share ideas and fuel your imagination. Speaking to people you’ve never met before can often be the trigger for new ideas. Children and the elderly can also be great sources for sparking your imagination.

Research Business In Other Fields:
Research businesses in fields other than your own. What do they do that’s really great? How do they do it? What could you do to apply similar ideas to your business?

Do Things To Stimulate Each Sense:
Do activities that will stimulate all six senses: touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing and the six sense. Also try blocking out one sense to enhance the others when you’re trying an activity - eg. by blindfolding yourself, or cutting out all sound.

Capture Your Ideas: When you come up with ideas, write them down. I keep a notebook with me to do this, as it’s easier to forget things that you think you’ll remember later. Another interesting way to capture your ideas is by creating a visual diary that contains images of your ideas as well as writing. You can find some great tips on how to do this here.

Play Games - Doing puzzles such as crosswords, chequers (drafts), scrabble, charades, tetris and pictionary. I’m enjoying Bloxorg at the moment. It’s similar to Tetris and was forwarded to me by Britney via StumbleUpon, so if you get addicted you can blame her. Thomas Edison was known to use word puzzles to stimulate his imagination.

Use Scenario Analysis: Use Scenario Analysis to explore the variety of possible consequences of taking a particular course of action. As well as helping you to make decisions this will open your mind to new things. You can read more about Scenario Analysis here.

Choose What Happens Next:
When you come to the end of a good book, do you often wonder what happens to the main characters next? Try creating that story in your mind. Books like Alice In Wonderland and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory are wonderful for this exercise.

Read or Reread Children’s Books:
When you’re a child, anything you imagine seems possible. If you can imagine it, it’s believable. But when you become an adult work, bills and worst of all - OTHER PEOPLE’s OPINIONS, can begin to stifle these possibilities. Reading wonderful children’s books, such as The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and the rest of the Narnia series can help to open up your mind again. A book I’m really enjoying right now, which was written for both children and adults is: Runemarks by Joanne Harris.

Art: Looking at art can be really inspiring. Even if you don’t have time to visit an Art Gallery, you can browse some amazing pictures on the internet. I’ve found some great stuff through StumbleUpon.

Use SCAMPER To Generate New Ideas For Products Or Services: Scamper is an acronym for: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse. This article explains how it can be used as a checklist to help generate new ideas.

Photoshop Your Vision Of The Future:
If you believed anything was possible, it would really open your mind to new ideas right? Well, Stirling has this wonderful idea about creating a photoshop image to remind you of your goals. Do check out this article to learn more about it and don’t forget to watch the video of the guy walking on water.

Declutter: Have a really good spring clean. I’ll admit it, I don’t exactly love cleaning the house either, but clearing the clutter from your house seems to declutter your mind too, leaving more room for creativity.

Be ruthless - get rid of everything you no longer use or need. And don’t let the task overwhelm you. Concentrate on one room at a time. Once you’ve attacked the first room, you’ll feel the benefits and you’ll be keen to tackle the rest. And if you really don’t know where to begin, check out this great resource: Declutter Fast - Get Your Home In Order Now.

Uncover Your Past Lives: Have you often wondered what you were in a past life? Are you curious as to what you have to learn in this life? Then why not try uncovering your past lives? I don’t think it matters whether the past life you uncover is really yours or not. But going through the process of exploring your past lives is a great way to fuel your imagination. And you can do it at home. You can also explore how to do this in: Our Ultimate Reality.

Freewriting: This is a great way to come up with new ideas. Just begin writing, whatever comes out and continue for ten minutes. Don’t worry about grammar and don’t stop to correct typos. If you’ve not done it before, it can be difficult, but once you get used to doing it, you’ll always be able to do it.

Freewriting On A Topic: This is really useful when you’re looking for a solution to a particular business problem. Just think about the problem for a little while, then grab a book or magazine at random and freewrite on the title. Once you get used to doing this, you’ll find yourself connecting the book title to your problem and you can really come up with some interesting and innovative solutions this way.


Image by Derek Purdy

Taste: When you lead busy lives it’s often too easy to eat without really tasting what your eating. Try eating simple foods, with different tastes whilst concentrating on nothing but the taste of the food. Your senses will be heightened even more if you blindfold yourself while you do this. If you’re a writer and you really want to experiment with taste and use it to enhance your writing, some people recommend licking the walls. I haven’t tried this, but if it appeals to you, it’s meant to work really well.

Learning Opens Your Mind To New Ideas:
Set a goal to learn, or study one thing this year that is not related to business. Choose something that appeals strongly to you, whether it is learning a language, a sport, a musical instrument, art, history, science or anything else you can think of. If you feel that you can’t possibly spare the time to learn anything new, remember that only ten minutes a day is 60.66 hours a year.

Challenge Your Beliefs: Write down a few statements that you strongly believe are true - then come up with as many opposing arguments as you can. If you struggle to come up with opposing arguments, use the Internet to research some. For example you may have a list something like this: The Death Penalty is Wrong; Capitalism is Evil; The Devil Does Not Exist; Russia is Dangerous Place; Vegetables Are Good For You (note - these are not necessarily my beliefs, just ideas for you to challenge).

This article is the second one in a two part series. If you enjoyed it, why not check out: So What Is This Stupid Box In Your Head?

Which of these ideas appeal to you most? Have you tried any before? Which worked best for you? Would you like to share any other activities that you do to help boost your imagination? Please let us know in the comments section.

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28 Responses to “27 Ways to Fuel Your Imagination And Come Up With Great Ideas”

  1. Hunter Nuttall on March 24th, 2008 5:56 pm

    Catherine, have you done any lucid dreaming?

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..My Final Post: Top 9 Lessons In Awesomeness

  2. Sterling Okura | bizlift on March 24th, 2008 6:06 pm

    @Catherine - I just glanced through and am excited by all of the good links to go through this evening. Thank you for including me in the links.

    I did take a second to check out the hypnosis link as I was just discussing hypnosis with Ellesse at her blog article on controlling your programming.

    Love your massive hypnosis list. I’ve grabbed some from audible.com but you have a way bigger selection listed.

    Sterling Okura | bizlift’s last blog post..Walking On Water Miracle Revealed. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes.

  3. cathlawson on March 24th, 2008 6:21 pm

    Hi Hunter - I haven’t. I have woken up whilst having a dream, but I don’t think I’ve really been aware that I was dreaming at the time.

    Is there a way you can induce this state? And can you actually influence your own dreams?

  4. Nez on March 24th, 2008 6:30 pm

    Okay, that Bloxorg game is waaaay too addicting — must. stop. now.

    Thanks a lot, Catherine!!

    Nez’s last blog post..Dealing with Pressure Situations

  5. Barbara Swafford on March 24th, 2008 6:32 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    I”m a big fan of decluttering. Clutter can weigh you down, whether it’s a messy desk, drawers, closets,,cabinets, or rooms, in general.

    Clean out the clutter and it feels like a weight has lifted, leaving your mind open to new and fresh ideas.

    Decluttering can become contagious. Once you start, it’ creates such a good feeling, you want to “do it” to your whole house/office. .

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Winding Your Way Through Blogosphere

  6. Mrs. Micah on March 24th, 2008 8:12 pm

    I had a great yoga session this afternoon which left me with just the right idea for a guest post I’ve been meaning to finish! Points for exercise/meditation.

  7. Cath Lawson on March 24th, 2008 9:01 pm

    Hi Nez - I knew you would like that game. It is excellent isn’t it?

    Hi Barbara - I knew you would like the decluttering bit best. I did my bedroom and living room this weekend and it makes you feel so much better. I’m even thinking of Feng Shuing everything.

    Hi Mrs M - My mum is really into Yoga too. I don’t do it much - but i love pilates, which is kind of similar I think. I’m glad it helped you finish your post. And I hope you’ll get round to doing a guest post here too.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..27 Ways to Fuel Your Imagination And Come Up With Great Ideas

  8. cathlawson on March 24th, 2008 9:08 pm

    Hi Sterling - sorry - you got thrown into Askimet! I loved Ellesse’s post and her experience with self hypnosis was interesting. And you are welcome for the link - I really loved your post and it fitted well with what I was writing.

  9. Kelly Rigby@ SHE-POWER on March 25th, 2008 3:10 am

    So many ideas to try. Great post, Cath.

    I have never tried morning writing but I think it might work a treat for me if I did it straight out of bed because the majority of my ideas come to me very late at night, often when I’m drifting off to sleep. If I started writing right out of bed, even for 15 minutes, I might get a good flow happening.

    I’ve heard of The Artist’s Way, but never read it. I think I might have to pick it up.

    Meditation is what works a treat for me, or going and doing something physical and pleasant or mundane. if I can get out of my head and into the moment or float away into the universe anything I am struggling with will quickly reveal itself.

    Hope you had a nice Easter.
    :) Kelly

    Kelly Rigby@ SHE-POWER’s last blog post..Do We Need Religion If We Have Faith?

  10. Ian Denny on March 25th, 2008 7:04 am

    I really agree with morning writing. I suspect it possibly doesn’t mean early either. It’s more to do with the clear state of mind you have when you wake up. A bit like when you reboot your PC and clear the RAM.

    I don’t know about astral travel. I used to have fairly regular out of body experiences. That’s a whole other topic! For me, they haven’t been anything spectacular or meaningful.

    It’s almost like I occasionally just pop out. Nothing happens really except I want to get back in and I’m able to do so.

    I bet this happens to far more people than we think, but few admit to it. I’m not that spiritual, and prefer not to analyse it that much.

    But after a break of 15 years, during which I started to question whether it really ever happened, I had one again a few days ago. Again, it was nothing spooky (well to me anyway), but it did remind that it’s actually very real.

    Why don’t people talk about it? Because I have, does that mean I’m slightly mad or suffer from hallucinations? Or because people fear being judged so, is that why few talk about it?

    I’m not mad. And I’m happy to be convinced I’m imagining it. I have read little about it, but I’m sure there’s plenty of logical explanations out there which explain why it’s not really separation of body and soul.

    All I know is that I’m perfectly awake and conscious when it happens, but not in the same place.

    Anyone else brave enough to admit to it? I sure won’t think you’re mad.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Sky TV: Bad Customer Service Or Theft?

  11. cathlawson on March 25th, 2008 8:30 am

    Hi Kelly - Easter was OK thanks but way too early - it snowed. Meditation is a good way isn’t it? I think you’d enjoy the Artists Way. It’s like a workbook - you’ve got to work through all the exercise. In it, Julia recommends morning pages, which is similar to what I do now, but it more involves getting all the crap out of your head if you’ve got problems.

    If I’m stressed I do it that way. If I want to think of an idea, I do it the way I described and if I just want to write - that tends to come out better too. As you mentioned - you would definitely get a better flow going. It’s worth trying.

    Hi Ian - It really just means when you wake up. Early is better if you have a noisy house in the morning though - as it helps you concentrate.

    That is not fair that you can just pop out of your body when I really try hard to do it. What is usually happening before it happens?

    When you want to get back in - is that usually because you’re afraid? I guess you would be if you haven’t read much about it - I suppose most people would.

    Are you now tempted to read more and try staying out of your body?

    I had a weird experience a few weeks ago. You know, I’d almost forgotten about it until you mentioned this. It was before I went to sleep and someone who I know, who has been dead for quite a long time was trying to pull me from my physical body.

    I remember thinking I was going to die but they told me I wasn’t. But I don’t remember where I went or anything - I wish I’d written it down afterwards. But, I’m guessing I probably fell asleep because I felt so relaxed.

    It’s like dreaming I suppose - even if you wake up dreaming, unless you write it down straight away you just don’t remember it. I wonder how many things happen to us that we don’t remember? Maybe that is why we have experiences like deja vu?

    So Ian, are you going to try staying out of your body and see what happens?

  12. Ian Denny on March 25th, 2008 9:15 am

    I’m not sure I really want to! It’s not one of those uncertain “is it a dream or not” moments. There’s no uncertainty. You are most definitely awake.

    Or it’s the most convincing self-delusion I’ve experienced. But I’d imagine there would be a purpose if it was self-delusion. It’s mostly been pretty mundane. When it first happened years ago, I couldn’t control movement. Still can’t, but I can stay an inch or two away and stay there.

    It’s hard to describe it really. You’re simply awake. The other day, I was asleep in the living room on the couch. With News24 on the telly.

    I’t s a bit like a crossroads being the last stop on the journey to going to sleep. And 999 times out of 1000 you simply go straight on to fall asleep.

    Rarely, you take a left and pop out of your body. It’s at that moment it always happens.

    It’s not something I do or want to happen. It just does.

    And when it happened the other day, it was a bit like I’d just woken up and was watching the telly - just 6 inches higher than before.

    I can’t really describe it any other way than it’s strange. The thing that puzzles me is that you have a similar “astral” body as you do physical. I can hear. I have arms (albeit not visible - although once I could see a faint outline).

    It’s just that your “arms/hands” can pass through solid objects. Such as the couch.

    I’m fully prepared to admit that it could be complete imagination. But it sure feels real.

    I’m not sure about writing creatively - it would be difficult to hold a pen or move a mouse.

    That was the first time in a number of years that it’s happened. I’m not entirely sure I want to experiment with it.

    Back when it used to happen regularly, I had some scary experiences I’d rather not repeat.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Sky TV: Bad Customer Service Or Theft?

  13. cathlawson on March 25th, 2008 10:54 am

    LOL Ian - I meant write it down afterwards not during! So, could you see your physical body below you watching TV?

    If so, it sounds like you have the same experience that some of us deliberately induce, but it happens to you by accident. I wonder how that is happening? It must be a bit scary if you’re not actually expecting it to happen. Have you thought about about trying to make it happen and see how you go?

  14. Ian Denny on March 25th, 2008 11:58 am

    It’s not something I’m keen to deliberately make happen. I did once see myself (asleep) years ago, but I’ve tended not to look!

    I’ve seen one documentary on it, but not looked into it deeply at all. I don’t feel comfortable with it really and would prefer it didn’t happen.

    I’ve been on anti-biotics and pain killers for a toothache which I suspect may have caused it.

    My goal whenever it happens is to stop it and go back as soon as possible. How would you describe the experience?

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Sky TV: Bad Customer Service Or Theft?

  15. Hunter Nuttall on March 25th, 2008 1:44 pm

    Catherine, to induce lucid dreaming, they say you have to first develop good dream recall. So you write down your dreams when you wake up, and you get better at remembering them. I haven’t even gotten this far yet, because I hardly ever remember anything at all from my dreams when I wake up.

    Then you just tell yourself that the next time you’re dreaming, you’ll realize that you’re dreaming. Apparently just intending to have a lucid dream works pretty well, if you always remember your dreams. If you know you often go to a certain house in your dreams, then seeing that house becomes a reminder to check if you’re having a dream. And if you remember to check, you’ll realize it’s a dream, and then you’ll be lucid and have full control.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..My Final Post: Top 9 Lessons In Awesomeness

  16. cathlawson on March 25th, 2008 2:09 pm

    Hi Hunter - I’ll try that. It sounds like an interesting experiment. I’ve written down dreams before, but not on a regular basis. But, when I’ve remembered dreams vividly on a morning and not written them down, later in the day I forget a lot of the details.

  17. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work on March 26th, 2008 11:55 am

    Cath this is a very impressive and comprehensive list. I’ll return to check out the links. This one, Do Things To Stimulate Each Sense:
    reminds me of how Walt Disney built Disneyland. reportedly he would five-sense every experience so that it was the ultimate in stimulation.
    Who knows what he may have created by adding one more?

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work’s last blog post..What keeps you from making the leap to your work life freedom?

  18. cathlawson on March 26th, 2008 12:45 pm
    Hi Tom - Thank you. That is interesting - I didn’t know that about Walt Disney.

    Disneyland is a wonderful place but if he’d used that sixth sense, as you say, it could have been even better. I often wonder what it would be like now if he were still alive? Probably the prices would be lower and he’d add a lot more new attractions.

  19. Stefanie on March 26th, 2008 3:18 pm

    Wow, thanks a lot. I used to think I needed another 10 hours in the day to enjoy all the great things there are to do - now I feel like I could use another 50. Great suggestions, though. Anyone could benefit from going through this list.

  20. cathlawson on March 26th, 2008 6:30 pm

    Sorry Stefanie - I know what you mean. I think you can only really focus on a handful at a time. And, I bet there’s so many other things you can do that are not on this list too. Nobody ever need worry about running out of great ideas, or getting writers block.

  21. John Hoff on March 27th, 2008 9:15 pm

    Hey Cath - good post, I enjoy the creative ones. I think the best time to do the most daunting work is first thing in the morning, when you’re fresh. I find the creative ideas come flowing in the morning and barely trickle out later in the day.

    Also, exercising is not only great for the body, but great for the mind. Like you, I like going for a walk. It’s like a break even though my mind keeps thinking.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..Negotiating: It Never Hurts To Ask

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  23. cathlawson on March 28th, 2008 6:16 am
    Thanks John - they’re my favourites too. I also get the best ideas in the morning. And if I try to do hypnosis or meditation later in the day - I fall asleep!
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