10 Ways to Develop Ideas Into Finished Projects
Do you freeze up when it comes time to develop ideas for an essay, project, or other assignment? It happens to the best of us, but it’s important to not let it become “the norm.” That’s because idea development will continue to be a thing throughout your working life.
And sometimes the project will be to develop ideas you didn’t even come up with! It helps to have a list of tactics that work so you can systemize the process. As luck would have it, we’ve got 10 tips ready to do just that. It’s time to put those thinking caps on and run this train to the end of the track. Let’s begin!
1. Speak To An Expert
An expert is a great place to start to develop ideas. Experts have real-world experience. They know how things are applied. They’ve gone beyond readings and theories to see what works and what doesn’t.
Experts are not as hard to find as you might think. They live and work in your community every single day. It’s just a matter of seeking them out. You do that by seeking businesses and companies that serve whatever industries that you’re studying.
Set apointments to speak with supervisors and management at these locations. Put yourself out there, and you’ll find your way to the right people. Just make sure you respect their time, show up on their schedule, and don’t be late!
2. Study Other Research Materials
Research materials of all kinds abound. You can find them in textbooks, on YouTube, specialty websites, social media. Of course, you’ll want to vet every resource to ensure that you’re getting the most trusted information.
It takes time. Fortunately, that’s about all it takes. You can have access to great resources (both paid and free) within a matter of seconds. What you do with it is up to you.
To start, you should read or observe some of the most trusted studies in a field. What are the main ideas that the authors are presenting? How does one flow to the next? Make note of the things that stand out, and consider whether you share the same ideas. Look at how each assertion is justified with supporting materials. All these factors can help you express and develop ideas of your own.
3. Make Time For Deep Work
Human beings are very good at convincing themselves that they’re working. All the while, they are coming no closer to understanding what they believe about a certain subject, and they aren’t able to express themselves at all.
Of course, that doesn’t pertain to everyone. Just most. And the reason it’s that way has nothing to do with intellect but work ethic. They don’t take the time to do what Cal Newport calls “deep work.”
Deep work does not happen in a room with a bunch of distractions, such as a pinging smartphone or television and video game console. It happens in an environment where the individual has made time to study and work on their ideas and nothing else.
It is full immersion in what needs to be done. It’s the kind of work you do at a public library. The more of those times that you schedule, the easier it will be to do.
4. Work With A Partner
It has been said that two heads are better than one. Obviously, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you’re walking around with just a single head on your shoulders. No, it means two brains working on a single problem stand a better chance of solving that problem than a single brain.
Two brains means that if one gets stumped, the other is there to help with the heavy lifting. Who are the people in your circle with whom you work well? That doesn’t have to be your best friend. In fact, usually it isn’t.
Look for people with whom you share a cordial relationship but nothing overly intimate. Set some time to get together and work on developing ideas. If it’s part of a group project, that should be easy. But it doesn’t have to be. You might consider bartering with one another if there’s one thing you’re good at that they’re not and vice versa.
5. Give Yourself Enough Time
Some people claim they do their best work under pressure. We’re not sure how you would quantify results on that in a study, but anecdotally, we’d be willing to bet that the number of people who think it and actually operate that way are far different from one another.
And even if you do work somewhat well under pressure, there’s a reasonable assumption to be made. That assumption is that you won’t continue to work well under pressure if you’re treating every single class like that.
You have to learn to be a good time manager to avoid these pressure traps. Assume you’re terrible under pressure so that you make realistic plans from the outset that you can stick to and develop ideas free and clear of the ticking clock.
6. Ask For Help
It can be hard asking for help. For starters, you’re not always sure who it is who can help you. When you’re in high school or college, the best starting point is always the teacher for whatever subject you’re working through.
Teachers have had to do projects of their own. They’ve had to write essays and conquer many of the same tests. They can help you sift through the debris and find the source of your ideas so you can develop them more aggressively. But you have to ask!
If you’re running into trouble, check out your teacher’s office hours. If you’re in high school, see if you can connect with them during a conference period. They may not have all the answers you need, but they can certainly be a good relay to the sources that help.
7. Lean In
No one starts from scratch. When you have ideas that you want or need to develop, tap into what you already know. Lean into it, and see if you can draw from those experiences and data to forge a path forward.
Without the ability to lean into what you know, you’ll never develop the acumen to push through resistance and understand the things that are currently holding you back.
Plus, it’s a great confidence booster to be able to make note of where you excel. It’s a lot better than getting bogged down in uncertainty, that’s for sure!
8. Find Something Accessible
The “Complete Idiot’s Guide” and “For Dummies” series have sold millions of books seemingly making fun of their audience. In reality, it’s just a way of saying, “Everything You Need to Know.” It just does it in a way that more easily captures the attention of a novice.
These books are actually great tools for starting to work with ideas and information of which you are uncertain. They can help you develop ideas from the foundation and give you the confidence needed to become adept at whatever it is you’re studying.
Whether there is an Idiot or Dummies book on your topic is anyone’s guess. But if there’s not, don’t take duh for an answer. Keep drilling until you find some books or videos or podcasts or other information that makes the topic seem simple.
9. Take A Written Inventory
The written inventory should cover the things you do know and the things you don’t. It’s basically a database of everything you can remember how to do and everything you can’t. From there, you can start to draw connectors and better understand the relationship of one item to another.
We recommend starting out in brainstorm fashion. Then, you can go back and regroup your inventory into a better classified document. That document can come complete with judgments on what the most important to least important items are.
10. Outline Your Path
If you’ve done everything else on this list, the outline will sort of take care of itself. In fact, prioritizing (see No. 9) will all but complete this step for you. You’ll want to clean it up just a bit and maybe even make it into an official-looking document. Sometimes your professor might even require you turn in the outline for a grade. This is great practice for working through your action plan as you move forward.
It Takes Work to Develop Ideas Into Finished Products That Last
The drive to develop ideas doesn’t go away with graduation. As you progress through your career, you’ll be tasked with developing someone else’s ideas, and that requires a system since the passion may not necessarily be there.
Other times, you’ll want to develop your own. The important thing is that you know how to do it. Following the tips above will certainly get you through it.
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