Ever noticed how all your best ideas come in the shower? Well, this morning I had an idea in the shower … it was actually an idea about having ideas in the shower. I was thinking “I wonder how many good ideas I get here and then forget as soon as I walk out?”, and then the solution popped into my head – waterproof whiteboards!
After wasting a few more minutes under the showerhead concocting highly delusional visions of setting up ShowerBoards’R’Us® to patent, manufacture, and market this revolutionary concept, making zillions, and retiring earlier, I had breakfast, got to work, and promptly forgot about the idea … until later, when in an ironic twist which perhaps demonstrates its worthlessness, I remembered it again and did a bit more research.
So it turns out that it’s not a remotely original idea (hey I didn’t say that all ideas originating in the shower were good), and in fact it’s very well documented that the shower is conducive to fresh thinking. Mitch Ditkoff suggests 20 reasons why the best ideas come in the shower, although I have to say I can’t agree with #19 – “if you shower with a friend, and he/she happens to be in a brainstorming mode, lots of great ideas get sparked”. If I’m sharing a shower with someone, brainstorming is not going to be the top priority.
There are plenty more blogs on the same topic. Andy Hunt’s highly original book about the brain suggests that using involving multiple senses during problem solving activates more neural pathways, and quotes the example of one study which showed a 500% improvement for students using multi-sensory techniques. Clearly being in the shower activates different senses to sitting motionless staring at a monitor or book.
As a result, it’s not surprising to find that many people have already invented water-compatible solutions to this idea capturing problem. For instance, on the forum belonging to David Allen‘s Gettings Things Done (GTD) company, there is a whole thread which suggests ideas such as voice-activated dictaphones, scuba diving slates, waterproof notepads and zip-lock bags, even memory tricks such as mnemonics and visualization. One guy has even installed an entire office wall next to his shower, which is pretty hilarious. In fact there are so many waterproof notepads that I am going to have to buy one and spend a lot more time in the shower to have any chance of an early retirement…