How To Generate Ideas In The Shower

Or up your game if you’re already playing

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Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Yes, I’m writing this right after a shower.
No, the idea for this story didn't pop-up during.

I had a terrible Friday last week. Haven’t had such simultaneous emotional highs and lows for a long time. I woke up past noon on Saturday, feeling like it’s only 8 am (come on, dark Swedish winters!).

The Netflix session that was meant to enhance my brunch turned into a bad binge. Five hours down my formerly well-postured body assumed the shape of the couch and I loathed myself for wasting a good day doing nothing.

“You pathetic loser …” — my brain has a knack for condescending conversations with itself on days like this, and I knew better than letting it continue.

Mind you, I love tea and coffee, but like my beloved father I get a 15-minute boost after a cup, followed by a comforting nap right after. So I chose Option B (I should rename it to option A) — shower.

With the yawn of a koala as I turned the water on , I hit the adrenaline highway in seconds. “Cold! Cold! Son of a ….” — but within minutes I was immersed into the aquatic orchestra. Oh, beautiful meditative rhythm! Eyes closed, as I started gliding my spread fingertips through my hair, they all come rushing in …

“Email Nikon to send a waybill … keep the TV remote in the closet to deter mindless binging … write your observations on ‘comfort zone’ … write about your social media accounts management tips … haven’t done a smoke bomb photoshoot in ages … the disco light can be used for light painted self-portraits … book February flights right now, it’s cheap AF!”

Wait! … I don’t have pen and paper … slow down!!

In the next few hours, I had written and been more productive than the previous 48 hours.

You’re familiar with this.

Most likely, firsthand, but if not, then you have at least read somewhere that showers are a great place to generate new ideas.

Ideas generate well in any stress-free situation where you’re doing something repetitive or mundane that needs minimal thinking and your mind can go into autopilot mode. Showers just have the additional benefits of being frequent, refreshing and revitalizing (specially cold ones, researchers say).

If you’re not reaping the benefits at all or enough, following these simple tweaks should unlock your mind while you slather the lather.

Mutasim, really? Is this what your life has come to? You’re sitting half-naked with wet hair on a weekend evening, telling people on how to take fucking showers?!

Sshhh! Shut up, brain! Not now!

Sleep a good one

There can potentially be a humongous list of things you can do to optimize idea-generation, but let’s stick to the basics. For ideas to come flying your brain needs to take a nightly vacation — make that a good one. I’m not asking you to go airplane mode or kill the lights two hours to bedtime. Just enjoy your own version of sound sleep.

Steer clear of sensory jamming

Maybe if you’re watching something positively stimulating (that aligns with the kind of energy you thrive in), it may work out for the better. Usually a bit of Dream Theater can really get me going.

But scrolling through Facebook or Instagram for half an hour before heading to the residential rain isn’t optimal — you don’t wanna get into the zone with flashbacks of your ex-best friend’s last check-in at Malaga.

Since you’re reading an article on Medium, I’ll assume you make good choices with your free time.

Music in the shower?

What kind of person are you — do all kinds of music distract you or do you have a focus mode playlist? Remember though, and this is very important — if you have to browse through Spotify/YouTube to search for songs and change tracks every now and then, you’re running full-speed against the goal.

Also, don’t try to be a soap opera star, I mean, covered in soap, singing opera. Don’t do that. Shush!

Schedule the waterworks

Mornings are good for this, unless you’re a hardcore nocturnal creature — then several hours before bedtime could work. If you’re a 9-to-5-ing night person (my condolences), a shower before bed may be fantastic for consolidating the day’s thoughts and getting some fresh ones. The goal is to have a routine so that getting ideas become clockwork.

Keep it clean

The venue needs to be publicly displayable. If you’re embarrassed about the idea of someone else seeing your bathroom, tidy up! Every item should have its dedicated place and you should be able to reach them eyes closed. I can’t stress this enough — minimal thinking is the key. Keep your headspace as free as possible. A clean and tidy shower space guarantees that.

Fahrenheit — keep it right

I started to take cold showers first thing in the morning long before it was trending. Since I moved closer to the north pole, I’ve gone lukewarm.

Cold showers are amazing to jolt you back to full power and they have many health benefits. Specially if you want a boost in the morning that keeps your energy high and sets the tone for the day — cold is king.

From my experience though, the temperature that makes you forget about the temperature is the right one for meditative mind state. Also, you don’t wanna jump out of the shower before ideas start jumping out of your head. So set the heat where you can calm your feet. I guess I should remind you to conserve water at this point, otherwise I’m just pure evil.

* I’ll just throw this in cause it doesn’t need its own heading: If you can manage the water pressure, keep that at a forgettable level too. You don’t wanna have to fight the force or stare at sprinkles.

Scribble it

As ludicrous as it may sound if it’s the first time you’re hearing this — keep a notepad nearby. Do you really expect to always remember every sparked thought by the time you dry your bums? Really?

Invest in one of those, or come up with your own solution. Go prepared.

One caveat

Follow the formula for a while and you’re pretty certain to make the mind get to work when the water flows.

But, don’t THINK about generating ideas — then you won’t generate any. It’s like giving your brain stage fright. If you jump into the shower expecting you’ll come out a genius, you’re just being the opposite. Chill out!

And to the dirty ones out there

If you like to marinate in your own filth and still wanna go turbo, resort to, like I said, something repetitive or mundane — like folding clothes, simple cooking, doing the dishes or cleaning the house (ideally without music or TV turned on). You might just find your dance!

Bookmark this so you can give me share of credit when your shower-generated multi-million-dollar-idea pops up. I accept advanced commissions in claps too.

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“Sugarcoats are not in fashion” • Economist, teacher, photographer • Stockholm, Sweden • All posts:

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