They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Know what else is terrible to waste? Time! So instead of spinning endlessly in your Herman Miller waiting for inspiration to strike, check out these useful tools that can help you generate new ideas in the most expeditious fashion.
1. Set the mood
First, we need to get that beautiful mind of yours warmed up. Check out Brain.fm [iOS, Android], which promises greater focus in about 15 minutes thanks to brain-specific music specially crafted by artificial intelligence. The app is free for the first 10 sessions ($7 a month thereafter) and also features music to help you meditate, chill out, or sleep at the end of a long day.
2. Write right
Now that we’re cranially firing on all cylinders, let’s get those fingers flying. The rapid back-and-forth between hands and head can work wonders for idea generation, so we just need to cobble some words together—and what better way to bring out your inner Bill Shakespeare than with some writing prompts? There are lots of options here, but take a look at the aptly named Prompts for Writing [iOS, $.99] and Writing Prompts [Android, free, with ads], each of which will get you started with various story-like scenarios, one-line prompts, and even user-submitted options.
3. Tweak it to perfection
Okay, now it’s idea time! Let’s make sure we’re coming up with something new and bold. The free Nesta Fast Idea Generator [web] is a great toolkit to download to ensure you’re challenging conventions and thinking differently. With nine different approaches available to leverage—from Inversion (turning a common practice upside down) to Exaggeration (pushing something to its most extreme expression)—it’ll keep your ideas feeling fresh and fully developed.
4. Organize and formalize
We’re officially cooking with gas at this point, so let’s give that core idea some legs by expanding upon it. How does it associate with other ideas? What does it affect? What’s the big picture? The excellent SimpleMind [iOS, Android, Mac/Widowsn] mind-mapping tool sports free and paid versions across multiple platforms and works wonders to help you firm up the malleable once you’ve thought things through a bit.
5. Send to a friend
All right, we’ve got a concrete idea! And ideas are best shared with others, right? The free ThinQbator [iOS, Android] app lets you effortlessly share your great ideas with a community of like-minded go-getters. Serve your own idea up for collaboration and feedback, or help out others with their ideas. It’s like a social network for turning ideas into reality.
If content’s your game and you’re constantly seeking outside-the-box ways to write about topics, look no further than Portent’s Content Idea Generator [web] the next time you need a little extra inspiration. Enter a topic and the site spits out catchy headlines to get you started.