“Overwhelmed with ideas? Brainstorm using post-its!”
The other day I found myself struggling slightly with my thesis. I thought I had an idea of how it would play out, but my research and my thoughts just weren’t corresponding. I’d already scrapped 4 drafts (two weeks time) because things didn’t float. I’d spent so much time on the computer, cutting and pasting just the titles for each major section of the paper, to no avail. I LOVE using the computer. It’s easy to cut and paste, easy to save multiple drafts. For whatever reason, this time it wasn’t working…
So I pulled out a stack of post-its and wrote each major topic I wanted to discuss, along with some sub-topics on each stickie. Then, like a box of puzzle pieces, I started to put them on the ground, arranging and rearranging as I needed. It took three hours, but my large stack of post-its was organized perfectly into the basic outline for my thesis.
One problem I had initially, was that I couldn’t see EVERYTHING in front of me. I needed to see the big picture and how everything fit together. I needed the image on the puzzle box before I knew what I was really creating. On the computer screen, or on ONE piece of paper, this is almost impossible. There isn’t enough room. I can’t see everything in ONE page. Doing it this way, with the floor as my creative canvas, allowed me to have a much larger scope of data visibility, and helped put things together.
Another problem I had was that I had my topics all in my head. I had a gist of what I wanted, and even though I’d written it down many times, it didn’t flow quite as well as I hoped it would. Writing each topic out on ONE post-it and taking things ONE STEP AT A TIME, really helped put each topic into perspective of the bigger picture. I was able to look at each piece, and try out different possibilities all at once, until I found the one that looked and felt right.
By the end of the experience, I had a floor of post-its, but could tell you exactly how everything weaved into one another, and what role each played in the overall scheme of things. Just when you think you have the best method of brainstorming mastered (aka: typing everything into a word document), an alternative presents itself that worked 100 times better. Keep an open mind, try out new ways of doing and seeing, and you won’t miss the big picture, OR how the little pieces fit into it.
PS: Post-its are quite fun to play with anyway!