Brainstorming by Yourself
One of the tricky things about working alone as a freelancer is that you have no-one to turn to when you need to you need to bounce some ideas around. Brainstorming possible new products or new strategies can be pretty difficult when you have no-one to tell you if you’re either wildly off track or hitting the nail on the head. However, there are a few alternative methods that can be used to help you if you need to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Keep a notebook or smartphone to hand to jot down ideas as they occur to you. You don’t necessarily have to do anything else with them at this stage, but it means that when you do come to have some brainstorming time you at least have a starting point. It doesn’t matter if you end up getting rid of all your original thoughts and moving onto completely different things, but nothing is harder than trying to come up with brilliant plans when all you’re faced with is a blank piece of paper.
2. If you have the room for it in the space where you work, try to get hold of a large flip-chart so that you are able to jot down lots of interconnected notes and pictures on the same page if necessary. This will then give you the chance to see where links could be made or to identify any emerging themes within your musings. If a flip-chat isn’t an option, then maybe you could get a large roll of paper and spread it out over the floor?
3. Teach yourself how to create mind maps, which are like more detailed versions of spider diagrams. Check Amazon (or similar retailers) for work by Tony Buzan, who originated the concept and who has written many books on how best to use it to suit your particular business and the way you yourself like to operate. You can also visit his website - thinkbuzan.com - where it is possible to buy mind mapping software (and there is even a smartphone app to accompany it).
4. Have a calm, uncluttered place that you can go to when you need to think. Whilst random ideas might occur you as you go through daily administrative tasks, often you’ll need a bit of time and space, perhaps some music, in order to allow your brain to wander and consider other options. Your creative inspiration may well appear at the oddest times without any need for you to trigger the process, but for some people, taking the time to just let your mind relax gives them the chance to become more receptive to those ‘light-bulb moments’.
5. Make sure you have regular changes of scenery, even if it’s just walking through to a different room within your own home. However, if you do get the chance to travel a little bit further at any point, make an effort to visit other places that are beautiful or that are relevant to your line of work. Talk to people on these visits and talk to as many ‘random’ people as possible when you’re out and about. Without colleagues to bounce ideas off, you never know when someone unexpected might say something that suddenly sets you off down the road towards a great idea.
6. If you are trying to reach a very specific goal, for example, to come up with new ways to market your business, then give yourself plenty of time in which to achieve this, as coming up with ideas under pressure is rarely productive. Obviously, we all have to work to tight deadlines some of the time and in these instances, you might have to adopt a ‘good enough’ approach and choose an option that may not end up being your best work, but will be fit for purpose. For those really important tasks though, aim to give yourself at least twice as much time as you think might need, so that you can make countless final tweaks before unleashing your creative genius upon the world!