Ideas are cheap, and that’s okay

For the past ten days, I’ve been running a personal experiment.  Each day, I start a ten-minute timer and jot down ten ideas before the buzzer goes off.  They can be big, far-out ideas or small, near-term ideas.  In ten days, I never ran out of time, and usually finished my task in about six or seven minutes.  As I’m finding with most activities and challenges in life, once you start it’s easy to make progress.  At some point you may hit a wall, but, I suspect that the longer you observe the world, the more likely it is that you will never run out of ideas.  Since I’m mostly a software developer, the bulk of my thoughts have been with mobile apps, web applications, and web services.  However, depending on where I was geolocated and what I experienced that day, the ideas have also included physical contraptions, food (all aspects from production to consumption) and health and education related ideas.

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash


After ten days I now have 100 ideas, of which at least three may be patentable (it’s a pretty low bar these days).  If I keep this up for a full year, I’ll have 3,650 ideas!

What I learned

There are many quotes along the lines of, “ideas are cheap, execution is everything.”  Yes, ideas are cheap in the sense that they are easy to generate, however, even without execution I feel there is intrinsic value.  By performing this daily activity, I have become more observant, curious and feel more creative.  The ten-minute time box forces you to think quickly and skip the usual self-filtering stage.  This activity is fun and doesn’t require anything more than paper and pencil or your favorite text editor.  There is no barrier to entry.


I intend to continue this daily habit and introduce a weekly or monthly review to pick a promising entry for further investigation or to develop a minimum viable product (MVP).