Chris Lakin

I recommend reading ‘Idea Sex’ before this essay.


Much of idea generation occurs in the recesses of the mind. How can creativity be optimized?

The three occasions of ideas:

  1. While thinking about the problem for the first time;
  2. (Randomly) while doing something unrelated;
  3. While freshly reconsidering the problem.

While each occasion is limited, they can be maximized. For Occasion #1 there comes a point where, despite idea sex, nothing more comes to mind, and so we must turn to Occasions #2 and #3.

Occasion #2, while based on luck, can be enhanced by doing menial tasks after considering the problem.

When we think hard about something, and then work on something menial thereafter, the problem continues to mull over in the background of the mind— but if we overload our mind with something highly cognitive, this doesn’t occur.

However, ideas generated in this way don’t always make themselves known. Sometimes these ideas are only caught hours or days later. Thus we need to check the fish trap occasionally. I’ve found that creativity and ideation directly correlates with the number of times I can reexamine the problem fully. Occasion #3 can be enhanced by reconsidering the problem every few days.

For this reason I proactively track the problems in my life that need more ideas—projects, cards and gifts for others, likely future problems, etc.—via my calendar/to-do to be reconsidered about every three days. (A bed-side notepad also helps.) In this way, I “sit on ideas” for a while. This works well for me.

Heck, I’ve reconsidered this essay a few dozen times over seven months to try to get it right. And I’ll keep revising this essay in the future even after it’s posted.


  1. Idea sex.
  2. After considering a problem, stop directly thinking about it and go do something menial. Check for new ideas afterwards.
  3. For larger problems, reconsider them every few days to see if you have new ideas. Make some sort of calendar/reminder system for this.

Ideated 2020 July 5, reconsidered every few weeks, posted 2021 February 22.

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