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https://www.haydnsymons.com/blog/think-outside-the-box/ My essential number 1 strategy to help you think outside the box English Do you want to improve you idea generation and thinking outside the box? Want to learn a very simple but highly effective tip to help you think of creative ideas? If you’re a creative, thinking of unique ideas is the... https://www.haydnsymons.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/think-outside-the-box.webp 2023-11-13

My essential number 1 strategy to help you think outside the box

Do you want to improve you idea generation and thinking outside the box?

Want to learn a very simple but highly effective tip to help you think of creative ideas?

If you’re a creative, thinking of unique ideas is the backbone of your profession. It’s what sets you apart from the oversaturated creative market. However, great ideas can be difficult to come by. You sit down to think of those great ideas for your next project, and your mind goes blank. Getting more and more frustrated, this often makes the idea generation process more challenging. It’s a classic Catch 22 scenario, you want to think of those good ideas, but the more you try, the less they arrive! I can certainly relate to this frustration! However, help is at hand.  

Within this blog post you will discover how I think of creative ideas and think outside the box. It’s a very simple tip, but is often neglected because of it’s simplicity. It’s definitely helped me and my illustration work prosper. When done consistently, it can help your overall idea generation.

If you love learning tips like this article, check out my other blog post to help you learn how to level up your colour theory, learning all about analogous colours. Alternatively, improve the accuracy of your drawings with this how-to guide. Otherwise, lets get started with today’s blog post.

How to think outside the box

The best way to think of creative ideas and think outside the box (and also help your focus), is by removing digital forms of distractions. Within today’s society, boredom is avoided. We always have our phones at our disposal to distract us, stimulate us, and make us mind-numbingly scroll beyond oblivion. If you don’t think digital distractions like your phone distract you, think again! According to Bloomberg:

“But I have my phone on silent” you might argue. The news still isn’t good. Studies show that just having your smartphone near you, even face down on silent, drains your capacity to focus. Every time your mind wanders, whether you actually pick up the phone or not, you are not focused on the task at hand. Research suggests that it can take up to 23 minutes to refocus after checking your phone. Think about how many times you check your phone in an hour, much less a day, and try doing the math.”


Your focus, digital distractions and thinking of your next great idea are all closely connected. Bill Gates spends two entire weeks a year, by himself, with only books and a notepad to keep him company. A chef even delivers food to his door so he can focus.

This thinking week allows Gates to discover new ideas to improve his company, take a break, and look at the bigger picture. Microsoft has gone from strength to strength, so it’s obviously a great way to think of new ideas.

This might be a too extreme measure for you, but the key ingredient is space. Away from distractions.

Getting Thinking Space

Why does this work? Because it allows you to step back, and actually think. By overstimulating ourselves, we can’t see the bigger picture. Greg McKweon discusses focus and thinking space in his great book, Essentialism. It’s a great read, and this book advocates giving yourself space to think.

Let your mind wonder

By limiting my phone use, it allows your brain to remain unstimulated. More often than not, this is when you can think of your best ideas.

There’s a reason why you think of great ideas whilst you’re in the shower because you’re giving your mind the space it needs to actually think.

How to think outside the box

But it doesn’t have to resort to shower moments… As you can create more space anytime, anywhere. I’m all for technology improving our lives, but if it’s distracting you too much, then it’s well worth placing a limit on certain distractions to make technology work for you, not against you.

You can place limits on phone apps, take digital curfews during a period of the day, or avoiding using your phone first thing in the morning. If you don’t know how you can implement this thinking space into your life, here’s a bit of guidance:

My recommendations

  • Spend five to ten minutes a day, just doing nothing but thinking. You can certainly add to this if you have time. Just sit there and let the process be.
  • During this time, you can think of a problem you need to solve or just whatever comes to mind.
  • Delete time-shabbing phone applications from your home screen or the applications altogether.
  • Remove phone notifications.
  • Enjoy the process of being away from the digital world.

Resist the temptation to use your phone or device when you’re standing in a queue or waiting for a train. Just take the time to think. Don’t avoid boredom but embrace it! It’s often these times when you can be present that you often think of those great ideas.


To help you think of those great ideas and think outside the box, in summary:

  • Create a distraction free-zone and give yourself space to think.
  • Consider five to ten minutes a day as your thinking time, it will certainly help your idea generation.
  • Don’t avoid boredom but embrace it.
  • Turn off email, remove phone notifications and step away from the digital world.
  • Allow yourself to create space for yourself.

If you liked this blog post and it helped you think outside the box, check out my other article all about one point perspective. Learning perspective has drastically help improve my own work, especially my landscape illustrations. Here I discuss everything there is to know about one point perspective.

Or if you love portraits, see how you can improve your portrait drawings with this guide to help you draw the face from the front. Discover my decade long drawing experience to help you take your drawing skill to the next level!

Many thanks for listening and visiting my blog today. You can follow what I’m up to on my Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram pages, I’ll really appreciate it if you do, and don’t be afraid to say hi to me! Many thanks again, and have a great day!

My essential number 1 strategy to help you think outside the box

Haydn Symons

Freelance Illustrator Haydn Symons - Freelance Illustrator For Hire
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