Coming up with ideas is rarely easy. You toss a bunch of information into your brain and hope a stroke of genius comes out. So, when you finally get an "Aha!" moment, it's easy to assume you've got it. That may actually be the perfect moment to wait.
Photo by Andrew Tarvin
Writer Kyra Aylsworth explains how just because we manage to make a connection between two ideas doesn't necessarily mean that it's significant. Our brains are well-adapted to pattern recognition and they're anxious to find new ones. However, if you get hung up on one insight too early, it can colour the rest of your perception:
When we see something that looks like it might be an insight, it can be tempting to make it meaningful because it is the first thing to appear. This is helpful to be aware of when we're trying to make sense out of a mountain of research. It's a good idea to note what stands out to you as you make your way through the chaos but try not to figure everything out as you identify these things. Just flag it and set it aside until you're ready to look at the nuggets together.
Of course, this also doesn't mean that an idea is wrong just because it came first. A better plan, however, is to write down your insight or idea, then move on. Keep working on your project, analysing your data, or mulling over your problem until you get another idea, and another, and another. Once you have a bunch of insights together, read over them and put together a bigger picture. The ideas that are worthwhile should stand up to scrutiny from your future self. Check out Kyra's post below for more ways to train yourself to have better insights.