5 Immediate Actions You Need To Take When You Have That 'Lightbulb' Idea

We've all heard those stories about great innovators who were struck by a game-changing idea, seemingly out of nowhere. It's almost as if brilliant ideas struck them randomly, like lightning. These stories have become our modern-day myths: There's the struggling author who dreams up a best-selling novel while staring out a window; a tech mogul who comes up with a social media platform while trying to find a date; or an entrepreneur who invents an ingenious product while doing chores around the house. These kinds of "lightbulb" moments may seem like they're one-in-a-million, but people have incredible ideas all the time. These ideas might not always be earth-shaking, but even smaller-scale breakthroughs — whether it's an article you want to pitch to a publication, or a solution to an efficiency problem at your company — are worth nurturing and developing, too.

Of course, turning a great idea into reality is pretty much always a challenging process that requires determination and passion, but it all starts with that flash of inspiration. We partnered with Microsoft Surface Laptop to pinpoint five immediate actions to take in the crucial minutes or hours after you have that big idea to make sure it doesn't slip away.

1. Brainstorm The Idea On Your Own.

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After you've logged your idea, it's time to flesh it out in more detail and think through the possibilities of where it can go. Try a technique called "brainwriting" — basically, brainstorming on your own, without reining in your more outlandish ideas. Ask yourself a series of questions: Who's the audience for this idea? How will the audience benefit? How can I take it further? How is it different from anything that's already out there?

This is one of the most fun parts of getting an idea off the ground — throwing even more ideas on top of ideas and really unleashing your creativity, getting into a flow where you feel totally free to express yourself and test the limits of your imagination.

2. Visualize Your Idea.

Joshua Pestka

It's incredibly helpful to engage your senses as you develop your big idea, whether you're building a flowchart or creating a mood board. Having the right tools makes all the difference at this stage — Surface Laptop can help you interact with your thoughts in a personal way with its intuitive touchscreen and great speed, so your visuals can evolve as fast as your ideas.

3. Step Away From Your Idea.

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When an amazing idea takes hold of your brain, your neurons are firing on all cylinders — it can feel electrifying, not to mention physically energizing. Sometimes, I get so pumped from a particularly productive writing session that I get the urge to pace in circles around my apartment while my thoughts race, which drives my downstairs neighbors crazy.

At this point, it's probably a good idea to step away from your idea to give it some room to breathe — you've already logged it, brainstormed, and visualized, so there's no danger of your idea slipping away; it'll be waiting for you when you get back.

Taking a break is one of the most productive things you can do. I can't count the number of times a solution to a problem came to me while doing something that gets me out of my head, like going for a run, playing a computer game, or preparing a healthy lunch.

4. Share The Idea With Someone You Trust.

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When you're developing an idea you're passionate about, it may not be a good idea to share it widely too early on. A competitor might steal the idea, and even people who are well-meaning may put doubts in your head or offer faulty advice. But once you've fleshed the idea out, sharing it with someone you trust, especially if he or she is in your field, will give you new perspectives and invaluable advice.

5. Take The First Steps.

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Now's the time to turn the idea into a reality, and that means planning your initial to-dos. At the top of that list should probably be some form of research, whether you're learning how to start a business, create a domain name, or enter an unfamiliar industry.

Not all brilliant ideas pan out into brilliant realities, but you owe it to yourself to at least give your flash of inspiration a chance to get off the ground. You never know where your ideas can lead you, and how many lives they can change.

This article is brought to you with the help of Microsoft Surface.

The brand new Microsoft Surface Laptop was released this June. The Surface Laptop features the following:

  • Ultra-thin and light laptop fits easily in your bag.
  • Four tone-on-tone color combinations and sleek, elegant design complement your personal style.
  • Enjoy a natural typing and trackpad experience, enhanced by a luxurious Alcantara® fabric-covered keyboard.
  • The power to do what you want, with all-day battery life.
  • Experience beautiful images in true-to-life color on the vibrant 13.5” PixelSense™ Display with touchscreen.
  • Invisible immersive Dolby® Audio™ Premium sound that comes directly from the keyboard, with no added bulk or grills.