Email, widgets, Excel charts, graphs, Basecamp messages, iPads — napkins.
How do you come up with your best ideas?
For me it’s sometimes methodical. I make myself sit down and try to think. To do that regardless of what kind of mood I’m in is what I’d call disciplined thinking, kind of like a writer who insists on writing and working every day even knowing that most of what he’s written will be scrapped at EOD.
But other times ideas come to mind when I’m not expecting them. I’m at the grocery store, I’m out to dinner, I’m driving across town, I’m sitting on the couch in pajamas. A few people know to be prepared for random thoughts and you know, carry around Moleskine journals for the purpose of jotting down thoughts to remember later, or maybe just to look cool. I try not to judge. But I’m not the type to carry a notebook. Of course, I’ve got my iPhone to type a note into, but I’m a clumsy typer on it and find it constricting. I like writing without lines, sometimes sideways up a page, and throwing in extra notes and arrows to connect the thoughts.
So I write on the backs of receipts, scrap printer paper, napkins, whatever’s within reach — so sometimes that only leaves my hand.
I tend to think that while creativity can and does thrive with a certain amount of discipline (i.e. a musician who is well practiced being able to compose brilliant things), there’s a place for random inspiration that’s brought about by a different, unforced environment.
heystac has a new website design in the works. And when we first met to discuss it, I took notes on the napkin pictured above. That’s where we started. We’ve had more formalized brainstorming sessions since, but the initial talk was over a burger and fries and brownie a la mode.
Whether you’re coming up with a new business plan or thinking through how your website might look, you can ask yourself a lot of questions. If you’re going about it in a formal, bullet point, iPad note way, maybe try disconnecting from technology and see what you come up with on pen and napkin.