After idea generation, the next step in the thinking process is incubation. After you have spent time collecting the facts and generating ideas, forget the problem. Hand it over to the subconscious to incubate. The subconscious is a vast computer, which stores everything you have ever seen, felt, smelt or experienced. Read a book, watch a movie, listen to music or ride a bicycle. Incubation after hard work can result in discovery.
Alex Osborne, the advertising genius, said that during incubation, ‘I lie like a wet leaf on a log of wood and allow the current to carry me where it will.’ Osborne continues, ‘When I am thus involved in doing nothing, I receive a constant stream of telegrams from my subconscious.’ He feels that he has done his best work when he has really been doing nothing.
The process of incubation enables you to throw off the shackles of conscious thought and float through the unconscious. The process may last half an hour or a few days. Forget the problem if possible and enjoy a mental holiday.
Tip: The process of incubation can be aided by carrying post-it notes to record ideas that flash through the mind. Dale Carnegie suggests carrying an envelope where one can keep dropping slips of paper, as ideas float though one’s mind.