Achieving a Constant state of Design Readiness
My former lecturer in design used to say that designers need to get into a state of readiness before they can become productive in design work or concept sketching. Some designers require more time, some require less. Some require going through fifty sketches, some require five sketches. Therefore the time required for each designer to get into that productive state is different. The trick is to know what is yours.
The young designers and the designers fresh out of school often require longer times to get into Design Readiness. The problem is most give up before they get there. Fortunately, like wine, it does get better with age. This is one of the reasons also why experienced designers are highly sort after, their ability to come up with ideas quick.
It gets better; you can train your self to be in a state of Design Readiness. There are many different techniques and you have to find what works best for you. However in general, the way to do it is like memorising the times table, every time you discuss design try to visualise how it would look like as a complete product. For example, if you are in a concept review, and some one suggests making your concept longer, sketch that suggestion in your mind. Or if you are flipping through a magazine of surfing the myriad of design aggregators out there and you discover a wonderful material or detail, visualise how it would look like as a product.
Now, it does not have to be 100% perfect visualisation. In fact it would be better to keep it as a sketch visualisation. The next step, though not always necessary, is to get it on to paper to solidify the idea. The thing you really want to do, as my lecturer used to say, is to warm up your creativity or in my example to keep your mind running warm. Just like a warm car engine, it always moves to peak efficiency a lot quicker.
Now here is a challenge, if you really want to stretch your mental engine, think of 3 or more variations of the idea when you get that mental trigger!