It’s incredibly easy to waste a lot of time on the Web by reading random blog posts, poking around on Twitter, watching videos, or succumbing to any number of other temptations. I try to avoid this sort of Web grazing as much as possible, but I realized recently that I have probably been too careful in avoiding it – my stock of ideas was starting to seem a bit depleted.
So, this morning I set aside some time specifically for that purpose. Primarily, I spent a good bit of time sifting through posts in my Google Reader and a couple of discussion groups to see where they led. As a result, I came up with:
- At least three to four decent ideas for blog posts – and probably more as the various ideas I gathered percolate
- An eBook on pricing that helped me get me unstuck on an article I have been writing – and will also probably help me solve some pricing challenges I have been wrestling with for a while. (Via Seth Godin. If pricing is a topic you care about, this is a gem.)
- A business model idea that may be just the ticket for a new initiative I have been pondering
- Great follow up notes (on a member-only discussion board) to help me review and synthesize some of what I learned at a recent conference
- A good example/idea to pass on to some of my clients that sell online learning
All of that came from maybe 20 minutes or so of random poking around. Okay – maybe not entirely random in this case, since I started with blogs already saved in my Google Reader and discussion boards to which I already belong. But the lesson I take from it is that I need to be more consistent about carving out some time just to poke around and generate ideas.
It’s still easy to get carried away and waste a lot of time, of course, but if you set a time limit for yourself (use a timer if you have to!), you’ll probably be amazed at how much you can get out of 20-30 minutes. Maybe I’ll keep doing this on Saturday mornings; maybe I’ll pick another day – don’t know yet. But in any case, I plant to make it a more consistent habit.
How about you? How do you rev your idea engine? Please comment and share.
P.S.S. – I missed this one when I was doing my Saturday morning surfing, but here’s a great post on Copyblogger that stresses learning and acting on what you find during your Web travels: Is Reading Posts Worth Your Time?