New research indicates that to suss out the most creative ideas in a brainstorm session, you're better off letting things percolate for a few minutes before writing anything down.
Simone Ritter and colleagues at the Radboud University Behavioral Science Institute studied 112 university students in two separate experiments, asking them each time to come up with creative ideas to solve a standard problem. Half of the students had to perform a distracting task for 2 minutes before writing their ideas down, while the other half were able to start immediately.
Both groups came up with about the same number of ideas with the same average creativity. When asked to pick their most and least creative ideas from the brainstorm, however, the group that performed the distracting task was far more effective. As Tom Jacobs concludes in Miller-McCune:
Knowing which ideas belong in the trash bin, and which deserve to be fleshed out further, is a real gift -- one that, according to this research, your unconscious mind is poised to provide.
Talk about food for thought!