There’s this saying I’ve always found intriguing: creativity isn’t necessarily about conjuring something entirely new, but rather about weaving together existing elements in novel, unforeseen ways.
Now, while ChatGPT may not rival the imaginative prowess of a human genius, what it does offer is remarkable. Armed with a mountain of training data, it has the unique ability to link ideas in ways we might never even consider. It’s as if it taps into a different flavor of creativity, and that’s genuinely exciting!
So, you bet I turn to ChatGPT whenever I hit a brainstorming wall. The tool’s knack for generating ideas at lightning speed is invaluable to me.
Today, I’m eager to share 10 tried-and-true prompting techniques I regularly use with ChatGPT.
These methods transcend its already impressive brainstorming capabilities. Whether you’re wrestling with a difficult decision, grappling with a creative block, or simply yearning for a fresh outlook, these prompting techniques aim to broaden your perspective and unearth untapped possibilities.
Alright, let’s dive into this intellectual smorgasbord and supercharge our imaginations!
1️⃣ Mind Map: Visualizing Interconnected Ideas
Let’s acknowledge a simple truth: We humans are hardwired to be visual beings. Thanks to thousands of years of evolution, we surpass even the most advanced language models, like ChatGPT, when it comes to recognizing images and gaining crucial insights from them.
So why not leverage this innate strength in our brainstorming efforts? With ChatGPT, you can craft a mind map that meticulously links your varying ideas together. This technique shines especially bright in contexts like project planning, academic endeavors, personal growth, and problem-solving.
Think of it as your conceptual GPS, guiding you through a labyrinth of thoughts to reach a destination brimming with clarity and potential.
Prompt: I’m looking to make healthier lifestyle choices. Can you help me with a markdown mind map that connects food choices, exercise routines, and mental health practices? Including headers, emoji icons, and color coding.
And get this—I created the mind map you see below by dropping the Markdown that ChatGPT generated straight into this handy editor (markmap.js.org/repl).
2️⃣ Speculate: Crafting Educated Predictions on Topics
Ever wonder what lies just around the corner in your career, investments, or social landscape? Well, the “Speculate” prompting technique is your ticket to explore those what-ifs with analytical flair.
This method encourages ChatGPT to don its thinking cap and make educated guesses or hypotheses about upcoming trends, possible consequences, or the evolution of specific events. The benefits? Think planning, decision-making, or simply gaining a more nuanced understanding of any topic under the sun.
It’s like using a crystal ball, but one backed by data and logic. Whether you’re contemplating climbing the career ladder, rejigging your investment portfolio, or pondering the implications of societal shifts, speculative questioning can offer you a layered, comprehensive view that can better inform your next steps.
Prompt: Speculate on the job market trends for software developers in the next 5 years considering the growth of automation and remote work.
Now, for this particular prompt, I let Claude 2 take the reins due to its more up-to-date training data.
3️⃣ Innovate: Pioneering Fresh Approaches and Solutions
The “Innovate” prompt method is designed for just that: to break free from the constraints of conventional wisdom and delve into uncharted territories. Imagine opening a window and letting in a gust of creative wind that scatters the dust off of old notions.
Prompt: I work a 9-5 job and have two young kids. It’s really hard to find time to exercise. What are some creative solutions to incorporate more physical activity into my daily routine?
When I employed this technique with ChatGPT, what I received felt like a revitalizing breeze. As someone passionate about exercise, I was amazed at the myriad of workout approaches that had never crossed my mind. This method is like a creative catalyst, propelling you toward avenues of thought you might not have ventured down otherwise.
Curious to innovate further? Stick around, because I’ve got more prompt-based inspiration coming your way:
- Groceries are getting expensive. We’re a family of four with a $600 monthly budget for groceries, and it’s becoming difficult to stay within that limit. Can you think of innovative ways to stretch our budget?
- I’ve noticed that productivity has dipped significantly among my remote employees over the last few months. They’re all using the traditional 9-5 work schedule. What are some novel approaches to reinvigorate their workdays and increase productivity?
- As a city planner, I’ve noticed that despite having a decent public transportation system, people still prefer to use their own cars. How can we make public transport more appealing through innovative solutions?
- My kids are addicted to their tablets. They spend at least 4 hours a day on them. Do you have any novel ideas to reduce their screen time without causing a household revolt?
- I’m a college professor, and I’ve been struggling to keep my students engaged during online lectures. What are some unconventional ways to boost engagement in a virtual classroom setting?
- I live in a small apartment in the city, and I want to live more sustainably. The traditional advice like growing your own food doesn’t apply here. Can you suggest some innovative methods?
- I’m extremely stressed at work but can’t take a vacation for the next six months due to project commitments. What are some inventive ways to lower my stress levels?
- My spouse and I used to go out for date nights, but with a newborn at home, it’s nearly impossible to leave. How can we have an innovative and romantic date night experience at home?
- I feel like I’m spending too much time on household chores during weekends, especially cleaning and laundry, which eats into my leisure time. Do you have any groundbreaking tips to streamline these tasks?
4️⃣ Prioritize: Ranking Ideas by Importance or Feasibility
In a world spinning ever faster, where time and resources are finite, the ability to prioritize becomes an essential skill. That’s where the “Prioritize” prompting technique steps in to restore some order in the chaos. It’s like having a sorting hat for your multitude of tasks, goals, or strategies, arranging them by their significance or doability.
Whether you’re swamped with office duties, committed to enhancing your personal life, or navigating the labyrinth of business decisions, this technique serves as a refining sieve.
Prompt: As a new parent, I’m overwhelmed with advice on what to focus on for my child’s development: potty training, language acquisition, social skills, physical activities, and emotional intelligence. Can you prioritize these developmental aspects based on their age-appropriate significance?
Now, here’s a fun twist—When I used this prompt, I activated a plugin that allowed ChatGPT to generate a timeline, just to add an extra layer of visualization.
So, if you’re keen to add some structure to your ever-growing list of tasks and ideas, check out the subsequent prompts for more inspiration:
- I’m overwhelmed with work tasks this week. I need to complete a project report, attend three meetings, reply to urgent emails, finish a presentation, and prepare a performance review. Can you help me prioritize these tasks?
- My house needs a lot of maintenance work. The options are fixing the leaking roof, painting the exterior, repairing the broken fence, servicing the HVAC system, and unclogging the kitchen sink. Can you prioritize these repairs for me based on urgency and cost-effectiveness?
- I want to advance in my career and I’ve identified several skills that could be beneficial: learning Python, improving my public speaking, understanding project management, gaining sales techniques, and mastering Excel. Can you prioritize these skills based on their impact on career growth in a corporate setting?
- It’s the weekend and I have limited time to do chores. I need to vacuum the house, do the laundry, clean the windows, organize the garage, and go grocery shopping. Can you prioritize these tasks based on their immediate necessity and time consumption?
- I’m looking to improve my health and have several goals in mind: losing weight, increasing muscle mass, improving cardio health, bettering my sleep, and eating a balanced diet. Can you help prioritize these goals based on their overall impact on my well-being?
- My business is doing well, and I’m thinking of expanding. The options are launching an online store, opening a second location, investing in marketing, partnering with influencers, and diversifying the product range. Can you prioritize these options based on potential ROI and feasibility?
- I’m trying to enrich my life outside of work and am considering various hobbies: learning to play guitar, writing a blog, gardening, painting, and cooking. Can you prioritize these hobbies based on their emotional and intellectual benefits?
- I want to improve my financial situation and have several goals: paying off student loans, building an emergency fund, investing in the stock market, buying a house, and saving for retirement. Can you prioritize these financial goals based on long-term impact and immediate urgency?
5️⃣ Query: Crafting Questions for In-Depth Exploration
You know what they say: A well-framed question is half the answer. That’s the essence of the “Query” prompting technique—enlisting ChatGPT to draft incisive questions tied to your topic of interest.
Consider these questions your launching pad for deeper dives into research, meticulous planning, or thoughtful decision-making. It’s like fishing in a well-stocked pond, knowing each catch could yield something nourishing for your mind.
For instance, pondering a career switch? ChatGPT can help you formulate the right questions, ensuring you’ve canvassed the entire landscape before taking that monumental step.
Generate questions that should be answered when considering a career change in my mid-30s.
Intrigued? Here are more prompts that serve as your guide:
- Come up with questions that need answering for creating a personal finance budget.
- What are some questions I should have answered before starting a home renovation project?
- What questions need answering to successfully transition from an office job to full-time remote work?
- What are key questions to consider when trying to improve my social skills and build meaningful relationships?
- What questions should be on my checklist when considering launching a new business?
- What questions should I be asking to evaluate and improve my mental health?
6️⃣ Map Scenarios: Envisioning the “What-Ifs” of Decisions and Actions
Life is full of choices, and each choice branches into a myriad of possible outcomes. That’s the core idea behind the “Map Scenarios” prompting technique.
Think of it as playing chess with your life decisions—anticipating multiple moves ahead, and examining the potential payoffs and pitfalls. Whether you’re contemplating a career leap, a substantial financial move, or a significant shift in your lifestyle, this method equips you with a 360-degree view of what might lie ahead.
Map scenarios for quitting my full-time job to pursue freelance work.
There are also some prompts to look at:
- Map scenarios for what could happen if I accept the job offer from Company A, which is a startup, instead of staying at my current job at Company B, a well-established corporation.
- Map scenarios for what might happen if my company decides to continue remote work indefinitely.
- Map scenarios for what could happen if I invest 20% of my savings in cryptocurrency.
- Map scenarios for relocating to City X for a job opportunity, compared to staying in my hometown.
- Map scenarios that could unfold if our team adopts new project management software.
- Map scenarios for what could happen if I take a gap year before starting college.
7️⃣ Devil’s Advocate: Challenging the Status Quo for a Fuller Perspective
The devil’s advocate—the role that shakes up the room and asks, “But what if we’re wrong?” This prompting technique serves up counterarguments to widely accepted ideas or popular beliefs.
Think of this approach as your intellectual sparring partner, providing jabs and hooks to your settled notions, all in a bid to refine them. This method is especially handy in group discussions, decision-making forums, and any environment that calls for well-thought-out evaluations.
ChatGPT, can you play Devil’s Advocate and provide arguments against the idea that maintaining a work-life balance is always good?
So if you’re in the mood to challenge conventional wisdom and dig deeper into the nitty-gritty, look out for more prompts that will help you do just that:
- Many people believe that earning a college degree is crucial for success in today’s job market. Can you argue against this widely accepted notion?
- The open-office layout is often championed for fostering collaboration and enhancing productivity. Can you make the case against it?
- The phrase “the customer is always right” is considered a standard in customer service. What arguments can be made against this approach?
- The prevailing wisdom suggests that the more exercise you do, the healthier you are. Can you argue against this idea?
- Remote work is often touted as the future of employment, offering greater flexibility and work-life balance. Can you provide counterarguments to this?
- It’s a popular belief that multitasking can help you get more done in less time. Can you provide arguments against the efficacy of multitasking?
- The advice to “follow your passion” is frequently given to those looking to choose a career or make a life change. Can you make the case against this popular sentiment?
8️⃣ Scaffold: Layering Ideas from the Ground Up
Ever built a house of cards? Or maybe a more stable structure like a Lego tower? That’s the essence of the “Scaffold” prompting technique—starting with a foundational idea and then meticulously adding layers of complexity. It’s a methodical way to approach problem-solving, planning, or even learning.
Prompt: Scaffold a three-month fitness routine for beginners
I posed this prompt to ChatGPT, and what I got back was a meticulously planned fitness program. It was like a blueprint for my wellness journey, each exercise building upon the last.
To make things even more structured, I then used ChatGPT to help me craft a flowchart, essentially turning the plan into a navigable roadmap.
Eager for more? I’ve got additional prompts:
- Scaffold a plan for a two-week family vacation, beginning with selecting a destination and then layering in activities, accommodations, and a packing list.
- Scaffold ways to improve office productivity.
- I want to learn cooking. Scaffold a learning plan that starts with mastering basic techniques and then layers in more complex recipes and eventually international cuisines.
- Scaffold a plan for improving my public speaking skills.
- Scaffold steps for creating an emergency preparedness plan for a household.
9️⃣ Freewheel: Unshackling Creativity to Roam the Realm of Possibilities
Who doesn’t love a good brainstorming session? But here’s the kicker: What if we removed all the guardrails and let our imagination run absolutely wild?
Welcome to the “Freewheel” method, where you’re encouraged to think as far outside the box as your mind will allow. Forget the notion of “too impractical” or “too outrageous”; here, we revel in the realm of the unthinkable.
The aim here is to go beyond the bounds of practicality to possibly stumble upon groundbreaking solutions or, at the very least, fresh perspectives.
Prompt: I have a high-stress job and typical stress management techniques aren’t cutting it for me. Freewheel some wildly unconventional methods to help me manage or even eliminate stress.
ChatGPT’s responses to this approach can be quite an eye-opener, I must say.
🔟 Hypothesize: Crafting Testable Statements for Real-World Verification
Sometimes, you just need to put your ideas to the test—literally. The “Hypothesize” prompting technique nudges ChatGPT into generating testable hypotheses, those clear-cut statements that can either be validated or refuted through experimentation or observation.
And what’s more, ChatGPT can even suggest ways to put these hypotheses to the test. It’s like having a mini science lab at your fingertips!
Prompt: Our small bakery has seen a decline in sales over the last quarter. Hypothesize what factors might be leading to this decrease and create testable statements to confirm or disprove these hypotheses.
Fancy a bit of intellectual rigor? Keep an eye out for more prompts to apply this methodology to other areas of inquiry:
- Hypothesize on why our last digital marketing campaign didn’t increase web traffic as expected, and provide testable statements that we could use for future campaigns to validate or invalidate these hypotheses.
- I’ve noticed that my productivity tends to dip in the afternoon when working from home. Hypothesize why this may be the case and offer testable statements to help me investigate this further.
- I’ve been on several job interviews lately but haven’t received any offers. Hypothesize possible reasons why I’m not landing the job and suggest testable statements that I can use to validate or invalidate these theories.
- My partner and I have been arguing more frequently. Hypothesize potential root causes and give me some testable statements to validate these possible reasons.
- My posts on social media platforms are getting fewer likes and shares than before. Hypothesize reasons behind this drop in engagement and provide testable statements that can help me improve.
- We’ve had a higher employee turnover rate this year compared to previous years. Hypothesize the potential reasons for this increase in turnover and suggest testable statements to confirm or refute these hypotheses.
While the above prompts are solid guides, it’s crucial to remember that for the best results, you should tailor your prompts to fit your own unique needs.
Got a compelling answer from ChatGPT? Fantastic! Now, channel your own creativity to refine and optimize it. At the end of the day, it’s your unique insights that bring the real magic.
Let’s make this journey an adventurous one, brimming with actionable wisdom and delightful surprises!