Why didn't I think of that?

KATE JONES
Last updated 12:49 31/03/2014

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Where do you go to find your best ideas? Chances are, it's not the office.

Zoe Pointon was training for the Austrian Ironman last year when she had the light-bulb moment that eventually got her new business up and running.

"I was spending an awful lot of time sitting on the bike because I did six-hour bike rides, so that's a fair bit of time to yourself," she says.

Zoe Pointon: a meditative state helps produce great ideas.

"And I was thinking about the real estate industry and what was wrong with it."

Immediately after competing in the gruelling run, swim and ride event, Pointon went to work on her big idea.

Eight months later she launched OpenAgent.com.au - a site that compares all real estate agents by their performance and customer reviews.

Pointon, who competed in another Ironman in June 2014, says she finds her best ideas come with exercise.

"I'm not someone who does yoga or mediation," she says.

"But when you're training and you're doing the same thing over and over again, you have a steady breathing pattern that is similar to a Zen state."

Escaping the distractions of the office is the first step to finding inspiration. It's rare to find the next bright idea when the phone is ringing and unopened emails are waiting.

A busy Chinese restaurant is where entrepreneur Jonathan Seifman is guaranteed to get his business mojo flowing.

"For me, the light bulbs go off when I'm talking to people, and one of the best ways to facilitate that is to go out and eat," he says.

"Yum cha is really conducive to talking and sharing ideas. Throughout my career I've always had my ideas in that environment, rather than sitting in a room thinking through a problem."

Seifman and his business partner came up with the concept behind their business, an online training portal for legal professionals, over yum cha in March.

They launched Bulletpoints two months ago and have continued to enhance the site over subsequent yum cha meetings, Seifman says.

Communications specialist John O'Keefe says his imagination fires up when he is on the train on the way to and from his office.

"There are far too many distractions in the office, with phones ringing, people chilling and other time wasting ways that see the time slip by," he says.

"Train travel puts me in the right zone, no distractions. I've got the time to reflect on creative briefs and write things down on my trusty notebook."

Real estate agent Nicole Ciantar says the freedom of horse riding enables her to nut out professional and personal problems.

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"When I'm out with the horse I feel relaxed, my brain isn't stuck in the minor issues and things don't seem as stressful as before," says Ciantar, founder of Vogue Real Estate.

"It's an awesome release, and whatever challenges I might have it helps the penny drop and I wonder why I didn't think of it earlier."

Online retailer Katherine Hancock also finds it easier to think freely when she's outside. Hancock, founder of swimwear and lingerie business Ebony Louise, gets up at 4.30am every morning to walk her two dogs.

"It's the best way to get away from the computer, and when I walk I think of ways to get new clients, how to market and have new ideas for the website," she says.

"But when I'm at my computer all those things can seem like a massive task."

Positivity and well-being expert David Penglase says there is a direct link between being outdoors and achieving clarity of mind.

"Being in nature is almost like pressing a reset button on a computer," he says.

"The distractions may still be there, but you're able to push them aside for a while to take in the moment."

To really let your brain feel refreshed, Penglase recommends disconnecting from electronic devices.

"You see people walking around trying to tune the world out with their earplugs in," he says.

"We've got to the point where we're trying to escape the day by putting more noise in our heads - it's paradoxical. Light bulb moments can only happen when we give our heads the space for it happen.

"There is a reason we suddenly remember that person's name or that popular saying when we're just about to go to sleep or when we're going for a run.

"It's because we're freeing up the conscious mind to allow it to happen."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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