The elevator challenge. Generating 200 ideas a month using only 5 minutes of your day

We would be surprised if we think about all the “dead moments” we have during a day. Most of those moments last only for a few seconds or a couple of minutes, and maybe that´s why we don´t have them present. It’s like if our brain is in Standby mode, and during those seconds (or minutes) don´t process any relevant information, or if we couldn’t remember anything about what the brain is processing.

I recently realized that, on a typical weekday, I use an elevator between six and ten times a day. And I can´t remember what was in my head any time I used the elevator in the last week. During those seconds, my brain whitens and enter into another dimension. When the door opens again, my brain returns from that dimension.

From now on, I want to start an experiment: Every time I use an elevator, and before it reaches the destination floor, I must have thought on some idea. Any kind of idea, no matter how nonsense or stupid it might seem…the only thing that matters: having an idea in my head before I get out of the elevator.

Until I can understand what happens with my brain during those “dead moments”, I am determined to use that time in something that can create value for me, and helps me keeping ideas flowing constantly. I am committing to the elevator challenge.

Now that I think about it, there are many situations where I can do the same: Waiting rooms, taxis, Uber…there are many types of “dead moments” to choose from.

No more unknown dimensions. I´m going to trade the “dead moments” for ideas. Now, in one week (Monday to Friday), considering the number of times that I use an elevator on a daily basis, I will come up with 30 to 50 ideas. Between 120 and 200 ideas per month written on paper. In a year, I will have the incredible amount of between 1,440 and 2,400 ideas recorded in my diary…

And if, at least 1% of those ideas contains something interesting, I will have between 14 and 24 ideas per year with the potential to change or improve my life.

If someone who has read Derek Sivers is reading this, he will probably be thinking “ It´s not worth anything to have a lot of ideas if you don´t have a plan for execution”. That´s true, and maybe we could take further the elevator challenge: When I use an elevator the first time in a day, I will think of an idea. When I use it a second time, I will think about the first necessary step to start executing that idea.

What would happen if companies encourage their employees to take the elevator challenge? Thousands of small ideas with the potential to generate value would be born each year…