There's one thing that marks out truly creative thinkers, and that's their boundless curiosity.
If you're looking for ways to boost your own or your team's creativity, the starting point is actually simple: Don't try to be more creative – be more curious.
Creative ideas spring from new combinations of existing elements – so the broader your knowledge and experiences the more likely you're going to have that Eureka moment.
But in these days of instant Google results, handy Wikipedia pages and algorithm-driven newsfeeds it's easy to confuse the desire and ability to find quick answers with true curiosity – that habitual inquisitiveness and drive to dig deeper into a topic than other people and disappear down rabbit-holes that yield unexpected discoveries.
There is such a thing as a creative process – and Shooglebox was designed primarily for people who use it; people who go down and up so many rabbit holes they need a better tool than the ones they've got to help them squirrel away and explore the things they find.
So – if you're curious enough – here's how to get the best out of Shooglebox:
Step 1. Create a box for the project you're working on
This is the repository for all the raw material you'll gather as you start to explore your project. Give it a name and cover photo – and maybe add a card or two with notes to remind yourself what you were thinking as you set off on the project.
Step 2. Create another box for all the random interesting things you come across day to day
Creative people are able to become fascinated by any topic under the sun, acquiring and hoarding all sorts of information. Writers used to keep commonplace books to store quotes, thoughts, facts and anything that might one day come in useful and be woven into their own work.
Step 3. Go out and find as much as you can
Dig deep into your subject, hunting for information, insights and the little details others skim past. Don't give up after 10 pages of Google search results. Go out into the real world. Chase down original sources and give yourself time to go off at tangents. Seek out opposing views about your subject. Create cards for everything you find, even things you're not sure will come in useful.
Step 4. Throw everything you find into the box unsorted
Resist the temptation to start sorting and structuring your material too early. You're still in the exploratory phase. You want to be surprised. Shooglebox lets you sort your cards into stacks within a box but don't do that at this stage. Really. The messier your box the better. It will yield far more surprises if you don't organise your cards into "folders".
Step 5. Review and explore your cards on a big screen
You might be using the Shooglebox mobile app to quickly add things to your box – dictating notes converted to text, saving web links and social media posts, images, videos – but when you're ready to explore your cards it's best to find the biggest screen you can. This is when you can zoom in and out of a grid view of your cards – like sticking the contents of your box on a wall and standing back to take it all in. At this stage you're looking for connections or themes. Adding links between cards helps you come back to explore them later.
Step 6. Go out and find even more
Exploring your cards has helped you spot gaps in your knowledge and thrown up lots of new questions. Armed with these, you're off on the hunt again. Of course, most people will have given up by now and settled for an obvious answer or solution.
Step 7. Re-examine your box – give it a shoogle!
Look at all the information you've gathered for your project from as many angles as possible. It can help to give your box a little shake – or shoogle – to see if shuffling the order of your cards throws up something you missed before. Dipping back in to your commonplace box full of random stuff might also prompt a surprise thought. Really great ideas come when you make unexpected connections between something you're actively researching and something completely unrelated that's lodged itself in your brain in the past. As Steve Jobs said: "Creativity is just connecting things."
Step 8. Share your workings
You'll come up with your best ideas when you're not concentrating on the problem you're trying to solve. If you've put in all the groundwork above you're much more likely to have that Eureka moment when inspiration strikes. Once it does, you can use Shooglebox to create a more structured set of cards to share your output with others. You can share a read-only link to a stack of cards with non-Shooglebox users. Or you can share a box with other Shooglebox users and collaborate together to build on where you've got to. In these days of remote working under lockdown it can be hard to harness collective curiosity and come up with creative ideas. Shooglebox makes it easier.