These are my top 7 tips for successfully brainstorming:

Tip 1 : Choose the right time of day

Be conscious of the time of day when you’re most thoughtful. Trying to brainstorm when you’re tired or have just eaten will not deliver the result you desire.

Tip 2 : Make sure you have the equipment you need. My list always includes the following:

  • Post-it notes in a variety of colours & sizes
  • Coloured Pens
  • A flip Chart (If you haven’t a stand, either fix a piece of paper to the wall or lay it on the floor)
  • Gold star stickers – to highlight the most promising ideas
  • A smartphone to photograph your page(s)

Tip 3 : Be clear on your goal

To help me keep focused on the goal for the Brainstorm, I’ll write it on a separate sheet and place this alongside the brainstorming sheet.

Take the first few minutes of the session to explore the goal and really dive deep into what you are looking to achieve.

Tip 4 : Clear your mind

After I’ve completed the steps above, I take 5 minutes to dump everything onto a sheet of paper that is cluttering my thoughts onto a sheet of paper. It’s usually the small tasks I have to do that day and ideas of some kind.

Then I take another couple of minutes and just sit quietly before starting the brainstorming.

I’ve built this process into a habit so it shifts my thoughts processes into creative mode rather than action mode.

Tip 5 : Set a Timer

Setting a time limit for your brainstorm. There’s no hard and fast rule to dictate how much time you should spend on a session. It depends on how you think and what you are trying to achieve. But giving yourself a deadline will help you stay focused throughout the time you’ve allocated to the exercise.

Tip 6 : No limitations

Remember : there is no such thing as a bad idea, just ideas which aren’t fully developed.

Setting yourself limitations or using negative language, even in your thoughts will constrain the process. When I’m brainstorming I try to have a conversation with myself and every time negative phrases crop up (and you’ll be surprised how often they do) I try to reframe the thought in a positive way.

Tip 7 : Put it down & come back later

After the timer has gone off, review your brainstorm. Does anything appear to me missing? If it does, jot it down.

Then step away from it.

I try to keep the brainstorm in sight, usually on the wall or on my computer’s desktop. Subconsciously you’ll keep working on the brainstorm.

Schedule some time either later in the day, the following day or later in the week to come back to your brainstorm. Repeat the steps above and refine your brainstorm with the ideas and thoughts you’ve been working on in your subconscious.

I hope these tips will help you get the most out of your brainstorming sessions.

Good luck!

Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell

Founder, Exploring Solutions