Open Thread – Idea Generation


Some days generating ideas are easy. What happens when you’re having an off day and generating ideas is really getting you down? What do you do to bounce back to your energetic full of ideas self?

How about clearing your mind and doing something different? Maybe taking a break from routine, and trying something new. How about Pilates, yoga, or simply strolling around a park sightseeing? After all, there is no sense in sitting staring at a blank screen is there? Do you draw out plans or ideas on the computer? Maybe switch to a pen and paper and see what comes out. Pick up a magazine or book on a new topic instead of the same ones you always read. Take a trip to a gallery or museum jotting down random thoughts that pop into your head.

These are something’s that might help during a slump. Share your thoughts with fellow web workers on what you do to bounce back from a temporary brain freeze.


Dana Vanden Heuvel

I’ve got a couple of ways of dealing with this. Certainly, as was suggested earlier, walking the dog and heading out for a drive are great ways to think and remove yourself from the issue at hand to focus “on” rather than “in”.

I also find that reading something unrelated works well. I’ll sometimes take a reading break, head downstairs, and pickup any one of a dozen books that I have in progress and try to put the challenge I have in the frame of reference that the book has (If it’s book on dog behaviour, or a book on woodworking, it doesn’t really matter…ideas come from everywhere!)

I’m also a big fan of creative card decks. the KnowBrainer deck, the IDEO deck, or any or a half-dozen others. They all prompt great questions which lead to thoughtful answers & ideas. Great for breaking the streak…


One thing that works for me is a good drive, with a large coffee and really good tunes. I find my mind really detaches and drifts well while driving to good music. A good short 40 minute drive will do the trick for me.

Anne Zelenka

I get ideas all the time… the issue is capturing them more than generating them. I seem to especially get them when I’m about to get in bed, so I keep a notebook beside my bed. I probably have five ideas for blog posts sitting up there right now, so what I need is a workflow for getting it from the paper all over my house into my computer.

I get lots of ideas from reading dead tree media. I like The Economist, Business Week, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.


An activity that you really enjoy and is not a part of the work routine can work really work well. The following do the trick for me, at different times: live exuberant music, or a 15 min walk alone. Other ideas are sitting in starbucks alone with some coffee doing nothing or using a mind map to jot down some ideas. Check out freemind ( if you like to use mindmaps on your computer, though they work better on plain paper somehow. They are pretty useful to get the ideas flowing.

Hope this helps a bit. Will be curious to see more ideas.

Sal Cangeloso

I have to admit I am a chronic dog walker. I try to do it a few times a week during that post-lunch, pre-coffee break lull. Its a great way to chill out before I start to get pounded with email as I am trying to close up shop later in the day…

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