If you’re a product designer or developer, coming up with new ideas isn’t just a fun pastime. It’s how you make your living.
But just like everyone else, those of us working in the inventing world get stuck in creative ruts now and then. And when the pressure to create is on, it can be even harder to get out of them.
To help you pull yourself out of those inevitable low places, we’ve put together this list of ways you can come up with 5 new products ideas right now, today.
One effective way to start coming up with new ideas again is to give yourself a specific problem to solve. It can be anything at all: What would make cleaning a bathtub easier? How could I improve upon the standard briefcase? You get the idea.
Once you’ve given yourself that structure, you may be surprised how quickly the ideas start coming in. You’re not looking for finished, marketable ideas yet – you just want a solid outline that you can either use to generate additional ideas later on, or that you can explore developing when you’re ready.
Try mind mapping.
It’s not as New Age as it sounds. Mind mapping is a simple process for visualizing information developed by a British pop psychologist back in the 1970s. The structure will probably be familiar to you – a mind map consists of a tree-like or nodal diagram that places a big or central idea in the center of a page, with related ideas coming off of that central idea like branches.
In surveys of business people who use mind mapping, the process has been shown to increase productivity, improve collaboration, enhance communication, and improve critical thinking and decision making skills, among other things.
Mind mapping can also be very useful for people who don’t think in a linear fashion – like, incidentally, many right-brained or creative people.
Chat with a friend or colleague you admire.
It’s no secret that surrounding yourself with people who inspire you is a great way to push yourself to achieve. To help get some ideas flowing, call up – or better yet, go for coffee with – a friend or colleague who makes you think or challenges you.
You don’t have to have a specific topic in mind when you talk. Just see where your conversation takes you, and bring along a notebook to jot down any brilliant ideas that arise.
Take the pressure off.
People get great ideas doing all kinds of things, from washing the dishes to taking a shower to walking the dog. Sometimes all it takes is removing that pressure to create to start your juices flowing again.
Get your mind off the situation at hand by doing something else – it could be something mindless and mundane, like chores around the house, something physical, like yoga or cycling, or a leisure activity you really enjoy, like heading out into nature for a bit.
The important thing is to relax your brain and let your problem go for a bit. It’s just like when you used to study for exams in college – after a certain point, all you can do is take a break and let everything sink in.
Use one of your existing products as a starting point.
Products you’ve already created can be solid sources of new ideas, too.
Maybe there’s an extension or variation of that product that would improve its function. Maybe there’s a companion product you can come up with that would complement your existing product. Or maybe there’s a feature that you’d wanted to include on that original product that just didn’t fit. You could use create a new product around that particular feature.