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« The Spinning Plates Method of Project Control (Experimental) | Main | Random Time Management »

How to Have Wonderfully Creative Ideas

Easy, peasy.

1) Write out a list called “My Top 5 Ideas for [specify subject]”

2) Put the list away where you can’t see it.

3) The next day, write out a fresh list for the same subject. Don’t refer to the old list. It doesn’t matter whether the items on the new list are the same or different.

4) Repeat every day, until you get inspired to put some of the ideas into action.

5) Every week or so, re-read the old lists to see how your ideas have progressed, and maybe have another think about some of them.

Some suggested titles:

- My Top 5 Ideas for Making More Money

- My Top 5 Ideas for Being Healthier

- My Top 5 Ideas for Being a Better Son/Daughter/Father/Mother/Husband/Wife/Significant Other/Friend

- My Top 5 Ideas for Improving the Invoicing System

- My Top 5 Ideas for My Next Holiday

Yes, your’re right. That was My Top 5 Ideas for Top Five Ideas Lists list.

Perhaps I’ll write another one tomorrow!

Reader Comments (13)

Very interesting, Mark! This idea could be used for many different areas in life. When you work on a particular list, do you spend a bit of thought coming up with your Top 5 Ideas, or is it meant to be more of a 'stream of consciousness' where you write whatever comes into your head spontaneously, which might only take a few seconds?
March 30, 2014 at 20:29 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret1

It should be "off the top of one's head". The trouble with too much conscious thought on the subject is that it tends to come up with an inflexible result which one then wants to defend, while the whole idea is that the ideas should be flexible so they can be processed subconsciously over a period of time - which is a much more effective method.
March 30, 2014 at 20:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
This reminds me of Brian Tracy's 10 goal method, which is:

- every day, write a spontaneous list of at least 10 goals you would like to accomplish in next year
- do not refer to previous days' lists when writing today's list
- over time, the goals will get clearer and more precise
- select the most important goal of the 10 and do something about it immediately

This is of course a condensed and very simplified version of the method but I think you'll get the idea.
March 31, 2014 at 11:38 | Unregistered CommenterKjell S
The Brian Tracy 10-goal method is reminiscent of Mark's "How to Make Your Dreams Come True" Future/Current Reality journaling, and I think some of the Nathaniel Branden sentence completions he's mentioned before.

What this post reminded me of was Litemind's List of 100 (whatever happened to that guy?) and, more recently, Steven Johnson's "spark file": . His spark file is essentially an endless list of stray ideas he gets that he has kept for years. The key for him is reviewing the entire file, once a month, to see if any of those seeds are ready to germinate. It's very much playing a long game with one's ideas and goals.

(And my apologies ahead of time if I did not code the above link correctly.)

[You have to take the "s" out of https for it to work. I've corrected it. MF]
April 7, 2014 at 14:58 | Registered CommenterMike Brown
Mike Brown:

<< What this post reminded me of was Litemind's List of 100 >>

I tried a list of 100 ideas (without knowing it was Litemind's) when I was trying to expand my business. I didn't have too much problem thinking of 100 ideas, but the significant thing is that I never did any of them. The list gave me no motivation or impulse.

I've been recently been appointed Press & Publicity Officer for an association I belong to, and I have been using the Top 5 Ideas method for generating ideas for Press & Publicity. I started about the same time that I wrote the blog post (i.e. a week ago). I've already put several ideas into practice and have several more which I can't wait to get started on. Motivation and impulse seem to come with the method.

I didn't know about Brian Tracey's 10 Goal Method which Kjell S refers to but it does sound very similar, though googling it I can't find any reference to repeating the exercise daily. I think I'd find 10 a bit too many, but it's worth experimenting to get the right number for oneself.
April 7, 2014 at 17:40 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Inspired by the success I have had with the Top 5 Ideas method, I've decided as an experiment to let go of all time management methods and just write a Top 5 Things to Do list each day. I will make no effort to actually do the things on the list, and won't even look at it again. Should be interesting!
April 8, 2014 at 0:18 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark,

This sounds like an interesting experiment! Do you intend to write the list on a scrap of paper or notebook? Will you be referring to previous lists and marking them in any way? And do you plan to measure progress in a 'metric' way - or simply based on your motivation to continue? How long do you propose to experiment?

Sorry for all the questions, just thinking about joining in with the experiement!
April 8, 2014 at 12:42 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
Hey Mark -- I think the Litemind List of 100 was more to break through any self-imposed constraints or barriers on producing ideas. I think he said that at the 70 or 80 mark, he noticed the ideas getting fresher and more interesting.

For myself, if I were to brainstorm a sideline business, I might do a list of 100 just to generate mild to wild ideas, but use a Top 5 list to actually implement one of them.
April 8, 2014 at 19:40 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown

Unfortunately I've abandoned the method already due to its resulting in a day of chaos, when I could ill afford a day of chaos!

In answer to your questions, I would have written the lists in separate Evernote notes tagged so that I could display them together when needed. I would only refer to previous lists occasionally as in the "ideas" method. I wouldn't have measured them in any metric way, just how well I felt I was working. If it had gone well, I wouldn't have put any limit on how long I did it for. If it didn't go well, see above!
April 8, 2014 at 21:29 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mike Brown:

As I say, I didn't find the 100 list helped me much though some of the ideas it generated were very fresh and interesting. I find that an idea needs quite a bit of subconscious processing before it catches on in my mind. I'd probably have had better success if I'd produced a list of ten items a day for ten days. Who knows?
April 8, 2014 at 21:34 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
<<Unfortunately I've abandoned the method already due to its resulting in a day of chaos, when I could ill afford a day of chaos!>>

And now the million-dollar question we're all wondering is...which system do you fall back on when you need to get yourself out of chaos?
April 9, 2014 at 1:18 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

This time I'm using FV with urgency as the sole criterion, i.e. is x more urgent than y?
April 10, 2014 at 0:59 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I'd love to hear how that works out for you. I recall someone suggested that shortly after FV came out, and you said you'd tried it and not found it nearly as effective as the actual formula, based on psychological readiness. However, it seems that your perspective has shifted somewhat lately on psychological readiness, unless I have just misunderstood. It'll be interesting to see where that leads you.
April 10, 2014 at 19:33 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

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