If your work is somewhat similar to mine, then I am sure your day in the office tends to be frantic, noisy, full of interactions with other people.
During your average day you will be involved in between 3 to 6 (sometimes as much as 10) different work subjects or projects. No doubt you will read and answer tens of emails, and other tens of Slack/Skype/WhatsApp messages.
I am certain that on average you will enjoy 2 to 5 conversations with peers about personal things or subjects not related to work. And all this is without mentioning how your personal live will also managed to get in the way with calls and messages from your family, personal projects and other friends.
I am not going to be the first or the last person to say this, but with all the stuff going on around us, it is sometimes a miracle we get any actual work done…
– Read more about this: Why test only 20% of your day???
Eureka! ideas tend come from 2 places
In my experience, good ideas (I tend to call them EUREKA! ideas) come from 2 different places: interactions or internal-thinking.
Interactions will be taken care off automatically from all the stuff I mentioned before. The only thing you will need to do (and this is also important in itself!) is to make sure to write down the ideas that pop up during conversations, and to follow up on them to make sure they are converted into wins.
Internal-thinking is a bit more tricky than that, since it requires a couple of additional ingredients.
Saving the best time for yourself!
What do I mean by internal thinking?
These are the processes that tend to come to us from looking at all the things that are happening to us or around us, and letting the mind find the connections between them. Notice that there is only one action on the definition I gave above, you are only looking at the things. The second part is something that should happen by itself, almost by magic.
I guess there are a number of ways of doing this, but I can only share my own recipe with you, so here it goes:
1. I get to the office before everyone else.
2. I take some time to meditate.
3. I organize my day plan.
4. I sit down and think quietly.
That’s it, just like magic this is where many of my best ideas have come from (this and while in the shower, but that is another story altogether!)
BTW, if you don’t like meditation then just make sure to take 2-3 min to cool down from everything you’ve been doing up to that point. I personally like headspace and use it regularly, but you can do what suits you best.
Obviously the ideas can pop-up at any time, but they mostly do when I think quietly about what I did yesterday and what I need to do today. Many times thoughts about other things also pop-up, things like blogs I read or podcasts I heard. Sometimes it is remembering a conversation I had with a testing team working with PractiTest that brings up an idea. The beautiful thing is that they can come from different places, and at times from combining very different activities and/or contexts.
Each person is different!
Does it need to be in the morning? Of course not, since every person is different.
Very early in my career I realized I am a morning person. I wake up early and full of energy.
Most of my productive work will be done before 11 AM. My afternoons are still productive but much less than during the morning. I know that it will take me twice or three times more to complete something after 3 PM than before 10 AM. And by 9 PM I know I can do very little work.
I also manage to get to work early, most days I open the office and there will be no one there at least for 30 min. This means that I have alone and quiet time. But again, this is also a win-win since this is the time my mind works best!
I know of some friends with whom I don’t talk about important stuff before 10 AM, and some that I don’t talk at all to before noon.
You will need to find the time that works best for you, and once you’ve found it you will need to make a routine that will allow you to disconnect and have your “alone-with-me-to-think” time.
Find your alone time and place
It is important to make this time as disconnected as possible, but many times this is also a bit awkward. How do you explain to people that you are sitting by yourself, not in a meeting, and don’t want anyone to disturb you?! Well, I am not sure how you will communicate this to your peers, but it is important that you do it, and do it clearly.
Some people like to eat lunch by themselves with a book, some others put headphones and close the door, I’ve seen people who turn the lights off and make people believe they are not in the office. Look for the way that suits you best.
In the end, what you want to have is the time, the place, and the opportunity to let the ideas flow to you. All the rest is up to how you are wired as an individual and what works best for you!
So… when and where are you most inspired or able to be productive? I invite you to share your thoughts below.