When asked where they were most likely to get ideas from, creatives answered that real-life experiences like talking with friends, travel, nature, books, magazines, and galleries are more likely to generate good ideas than social media. Neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf explains that when something enters our mind, it does so through a multitude of sensory experiences: taste, smell, and spatial information to name a few. By experiencing things in real life, we think much more profoundly about them, whereas a screen presents lots of content to skim.
- 47% of people said their best ideas came at work.
- 29% on my commute.
- 23% in bed.
- 17% in the bathroom.
- 15% doing exercise.
- 13% in cafés.
Lu Chen, a professor at Stanford University, agrees that the best ideas will come at work, saying that we need to engage our minds at a high intensity to have any meaningful thought. This said, the results also show that too much intense thought can leave us locked up, cornered by our thinking. In this case, doing exercise or taking a bath or shower can help free up enough space in our minds for original ideas again.
Pen versus phone
40% of respondents like to record their thoughts on paper, while ‘on a computer’, ‘in my head’, and ‘on my phone’ each got around 20%. Pam Mueller, a social psychologist, says what we have all been told at some point: recording thoughts on a computer often winds up being a mindless transcription-like task, while writing our thoughts down on paper requires more care and concentration.
The question, “What inspires your best ideas?” lead to results showing 47% of people see film as their main source of inspiration. Books, friends, and travel also ranked above websites as sources of creative inspiration. This may partially be because 18% of people said that getting distracted online obstructs good ideas.