Hi! 👋 I’m Jessa.

I blog daily about life, work, and the future.

Three stages of generating ideas

Written in


If your work involves generating ideas, you might have already figured out how to create one.

But if you think that it’s more on getting a muse or a spur of the moment, you might find it difficult to generate ideas from time to time.

However, there is process that makes it more replicable, one that I have observed from a baby boomer who critically thinks solutions to problems millenials wouldn’t have patience for.

So how to generate ideas?

From Future Minds: How the Digital Age Is Changing Our Minds, Why This Matters, and What We Can Do About It:

Generating ideas or solutions tends to proceed through three clear stages: education, incubation, and illumination.

  1. The education stage is deeply demanding. You need to think, a lot, and expose yourself to varied inputs. You need to become conscious of the issues and sensitive to what is occurring around you. You need to listen deeply and watch carefully too. In short, you need to become receptive and focus your attention on the problem at hand. Relaxation–a sense of mental calm and physical quiet–is essential during this stage. Judging from a host of recent experiments, when you’re highly stressed you desire and require fast information. Indeed, fast facts help you to relax. However, once you are relaxed, fast-paced information can undo the state of calm and make you stressed again.
  2. The incubation stage is unnerving, largely because you don’t know you’re in it and you cannot directly control it. However, to think that nothing is happening would be a colossal mistake. Your brain is working overtime during this stage and there’s plenty going on, it’s just that all of the work occurs in your unconscious. Your mind is working away and the vital point is to wait. Tenacity is crucial. Endurance thinking, someone once called it.
  3. Eventually (the illumination stage), something will pop into your head, usually unannounced. At this point, the flow of ideas can often turn into a flood, when all of the individual elements start to join together in a frenetic frenzy.
More from Jessa