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Go for a Run, Ideas Will Come
By: Matt Shuford
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I’ve never been much of a runner. Played sports all my life, but not until recently did I get into distance running. However, doing so has improved much more than just my health. Lately, I’ve found a jog around the city brings about some of my best ideas.
 
“Just think about it deeply, then forget it…then an idea will jump up in your face.”
 
Don Draper couldn’t have said it better. As writers, designers and interactive professionals, we’re blessed with the opportunity to go into the office (or not) and get paid to think. Better yet, we’re paid to think creatively. Unfortunately, great ideas don’t always develop within the archetypes of a typical workday. In fact, the best solutions often arise when we’re doing the least amount of thinking — if at all.
 
Personally, running has become my catalyst for ideation. Whether rounding the corner at 7th and Church or splitting the columns of the county courthouse, the rhythmic beat of my feet somehow ignites the pistons in my brain, leading to an internal breakthrough. This has held true for developing concepts for work, deciphering issues in my personal life, and even producing the basis for this article. No matter the problem, I’ve found solutions often lie along the sidewalks and trails of my jogging path. 
 
But there are many other simple ways to stimulate brain activity besides running, too.
 
Play with a dog. Doesn’t have to be your dog, just any dog — animal shelters are your friend here, and the pups will love you for it. Take a shower. Hell, chew some gum. Research published in the journal Brain and Cognition shows that chomping away improves blood flow and can help stimulate up to eight areas of the brain. That’s pretty minimal effort for what might ignite a cerebral explosion. Each of these extremely simple acts can help turn off your brain so it can uncover the solution on its own — without conscious labor.
 
Or, try doing something you’re not accustomed to. If you’re a designer, write. If you’re a writer, doodle. Something. Anything. You get the idea. Shut down all the problem-solving, cognitive systems you might normally use and, instead, let the answer appear on its own terms. Trust me, it will happen.
 
Just be sure to remember your brilliant idea long enough to make note of it. That’s the real trick.


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About the Author
Matt Shuford is an idea chemist. With a little over five years to his career, he's a driven copywriter and problem solver who takes pride in keeping things fresh, interesting, and intelligent. You can expect his posts to reflect those of an admirer and critic of advertising, life, and the relationship between the two. Feel free to contact him at his website or on Twitter

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