Some people seem to have all the cool ideas. I’m not really one of them. Until recently, I used to find it hard to come up with ideas for apps. So I got curious: where do those people get all their product ideas from? And more important, how can I get more ideas of my own?
It might be that some of us are by nature better than others at finding new ideas. Maybe so, but I also believe that these “idea people” have trained their minds to become better at recognizing problems and possibilities.
Here’s a thing that you can do to train your own mind:
For the next 30 days, come up with at least one app idea per day.
Write your idea down in a file somewhere. It doesn’t have to be a fully fleshed out idea, one sentence is enough: “An app that finds recipes based on what food you have sitting in your fridge.” That’s all you need.
It also doesn’t have to be a good idea, or an original one, or even something that is actually possible — it just has to be something that you came up with.
More than one idea per day is fine too. In fact, once you get started with this exercise you will find that ideas start to pop up everywhere.
Don’t get disheartened if the ideas for the first ten or so days are pretty bad or if it turns out that they have already been done before. If you keep at it, you might surprise yourself with how many good ideas you will have in addition to the bad ones.
The point here isn’t really to have only great ideas, but to generate ideas in the first place.
I did this exercise in September last year and of the 100 or so ideas that I wrote down over the course of the month, about 20 were actually pretty decent, and two or three were really good ones. I wouldn’t have discovered the good ones without going through the bad ones first!
There are many small annoyances in our lives that we are unaware of and have learned to accept or ignore or work around. We no longer question these issues; they have become blind spots. But when your mind starts actively looking for things that can be improved, you’re slowly becoming aware of these annoyances again. They are excellent candidates for app ideas (or other inventions).
For example, I often view recipes from American or British websites on my iPad while cooking. The problem is that they have measurements in cups, ounces, lbs, Fahrenheit and other silly units. I’d love to have an app that scans the web page with the recipe and converts all the amounts to the metric system, so I don’t have to do each calculation by hand.
How often do you think, “I wish I had an app for that?” If you are an idea person you probably think this all the time. The point of this exercise is to get yourself thinking like this too.
Give it a shot. It doesn’t have to take more than five or ten minutes a day, and you’ll never be without app ideas again.
Photo Credit: Diego Dalmaso