Friday, July 10, 2009

A Whiteboard in the Shower

My husband and I have an ongoing game where we talk about all the home improvements we will make someday when we’ve hit the lottery. The last few weeks we’ve been focused on our master bathroom, which is a textbook example of all that was wrong with 1980’s décor. Most of my suggestions are usually pretty mundane - better lighting, move the linen closet - but there’s one requirement that always gets a weird look: a whiteboard in the shower.

You see, both my husband and I have jobs requiring a lot of creativity. He spends his days dreaming up new products, and I spend mine looking at new approaches to business processes. In both cases, there’s a lot of opportunity to think and dream, and a lot of need to capture ideas.

Years ago when I took a personality types course, our leader recommended that certain types of people keep a journal by their bed. She said that these types were known for processing the day’s events long after they were supposed to be asleep, and often would wake up in the middle of the night still thinking about what had gone on during the day. If they had the opportunity to write down their thoughts, she reasoned, these types would be able to sleep better. This works well for my husband, and he has a nice orderly journal where he writes most of his design ideas.

Unfortunately, my creative processes are a little less predictable. I can’t say I’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night with a brand new strategy. However, I can say that I have created multiple marketing campaigns and solved world hunger while on my elliptical trainer. I’ve written character studies, and planned out presentations while driving to and from work. And I’ve rewritten requirements, dreamed up product names and solved design problems in the shower. There’s something about these times when I’m focused elsewhere that my subconscious takes over and delivers a solution that is exactly perfect.

Of course, in most of these situations, it’s a little hard to document my brilliant ideas. I’m enough of a klutz to know that writing while on the elliptical trainer is a recipe for a broken ankle, and the CHP doesn’t really like people to write and drive at the same time. But HGTV shows bathroom remodels to add TVs, shower radios and telephones, so why not a whiteboard?

How about you – where are you when the creative idea hits? How do you capture it?

[Whiteboard courtesy of
Mark.Pilgrim. Used under Creative Commons]


Tim Dexter said...

Problem solving - got some business problem I need to solve or getting more geeky, an algorithm I need to create and Im stuck.
Its amazing how many times, walking away and playing with the kids or walking the dog results in a 'Dad!' cos I left left them or a set of bewildered dogs wondering how we did the usual 1/2 hour 'loop' in 10 minutes.
Back to the desk and bash out the solution in minutes.
Another, is to talk to (or at) my wife, explaining the intricacies of some java problem that I have. She has no clue what Im talking about but kindly indulges me and then takes the credit for me solving the problem :0) Tim

Shower Sketch said...

Here's one shower whiteboard that really works. I just launched it a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy!