Did you know there's a global innovation index of the top economies powering innovation? Out of the 128 countries surveyed, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the U.S. top the leaderboard. We have a higher caliber of universities, file more patents and produce more scientific reports than other countries on the list. AND we also invest considerably more in R&D. Go figure!
But what (beyond a solid education, financial backing and a high focus on research), makes a great innovator? Is it something learned or something inherited? Many of the most famous innovators, including Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs, share similar traits. They have the ability to do things differently and think outside of the norm. Stay the distance and view innovation as a continuous process, rather than a one-time, flash-in-the-pan "Eureka" moment.
Innovators are big-picture thinkers, but even big-picture thinkers need a little helping hand. Sometimes the difference between success and failure lies in the little things. Like how you set yourself up for the day, for example. From getting your vital nutrients to finding time to focus, check out these five ways the best innovators start their days.
It may sound like a no-brainer, but innovative people rarely get far on an empty stomach. So, if you're sacrificing your nutrition because of your angst to get to work on time, you could be harming your productivity and creative ability. You don't have to go all out in the style of a British truck driver (bacon and fried bread, anyone?) but if you skip your morning meal, you may not be getting all the nutrients you need to stimulate those all-important brain cells.
Statistics show that more American adults are ditching breakfast in favor of a few extra minutes in bed or a coffee on the subway. But this doesn't set you up right for the day. When you don't eat breakfast, you don't give your mind and body the fuel they need to reach peak performance. This can also lead to a loss of steam, a drop in blood sugar and diminished concentration.
So, if you think you don't have time for breakfast, do yourself a favor and adjust your thinking. Those extra 10 minutes in the morning will reap benefits throughout the day. Innovator and author of the Four Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris, came up with a failsafe breakfast. It's fast to make and loads you up with the right nutrients to get your day off to a good start. Something as simple as eggs in the microwave is a low-carb option that releases energy slowly throughout the day, keeping you at the pinnacle of innovative thinking.
Boost Your Energy Levels Before Starting Work
What does your morning routine look like? If it's hitting the snooze button, stumbling out of bed and into the shower, you're missing out on a chance to boost your energy levels. It can be a challenge to exercise during the early morning hours. But the most successful innovators make time to spend in the gym, do a few laps at the pool, or even some peaceful yoga.
If you're struggling to find your motivation, draw inspiration from technology and download an app like runkeeper or JEFIT. These take some of the mental work out of exercise and provide you with a plan to follow, so you can hit the ground running.
If you're worried that a morning workout will make you tired for the rest of the day, think again. Exercise gives you more energy and, according to Mozilla's chairwoman, Mitchell Baker, innovation requires enormous amounts of energy!
Mindful meditation innovates thinking and can make us more creative. It's been proven to stimulate the early adopter of practicing meditation in the workplace. They noticed a dramatic increase in employee productivity after meditating over creative solutions.neocortex (the part of our brains responsible for creative thinking), and increase emotional intelligence as well. The Walt Disney Company was an
You can incorporate meditation into your morning routine fairly easily to clear your mind and allow you to focus on the tasks ahead. Even if your session only lasts 10 or 15 minutes, with regular practice you can go about your day with your brain ready to engage in creative tasks.
If you find it hard to concentrate, and worrying about the stress of your day or unresolved issues from yesterday occupy your mind, try downloading an app like Heartfulness that lets you meditate with the guidance of a trainer.
Create a To-Do List
Innovators are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. And creative out-of-the-box thinkers often find it hard to stay focused on the task in hand. If that sounds like you and you don't have a detail-driven assistant at hand, creating a simple, to-do list can help you keep your focus. The best way to organize your to-do list is by prioritizing. So, put the tasks you want to complete first at the top.
Try to handle things that take more of your energy in the morning, so you're not fighting a losing battle later on in the day. If you're not one for pen and paper, or you simply don't know how to go about creating your to-do list, there's an app that will take care of that as well. When you get a handle on the important stuff, you can leave your mind free to let the innovation flow through.
Dress to Impress
You may be tempted to wallow around in your pajamas, especially if you work from home. But, there's a psychology behind dressing to impress, so forget about wearing your "comfy clothes" to work. You don't have to don a suit and tie if that goes against your very nature or feels stifling to innovation. But make time to select clothes that you feel good in. How you dress can greatly impact your mood, work, and even ability to innovate.
Wearing a suit can help you come up with big ideas, whereas casual clothing can hurt your ability to negotiate. If you're working on scientific advances, try wearing a lab coat. There's actual science behind this, so dress for success and you'll achieve it faster.
If you don't have time for shopping, join the rest of the millennial generation and get online. With a few clicks you can get the wardrobe you need to stimulate innovation and enhance your mood.
Whether you set your alarm clock earlier, start pumping iron, or download an app to help you out, try starting from the next time you wake up. The most successful innovators have a morning routine that puts them in the right frame of mind and prepares their mind and body for the day ahead. So if you want to join the echelons of the innovative legends, start with the small stuff. You never know where it may lead.