It doesn’t take a genius to invent things.
Every invention builds on previous knowledge. All you need to do to be inventive is to know how to use prior knowledge to spark new ideas. You need to learn the “templates” for innovative processes.
The easiest types of inventions to come up with are combinations. Think of two things that typically go together and combine them.
You tend to keep a clock and a radio on your nightstand? Clock-radio. You tend to keep a clock and a lamp on your nightstand? Clock-lamp. Or how about just combine the entire nightstand itself with a clock, radio, and light?
Whenever you find yourself bringing two separate tools to do one task, think about how they might be combined.
The opposite of combinations is improvements. Instead of combining and adding new functionality, you simplify and increase performance.
Find something complicated and simplify it. Think of its primary function, the 20% of it that does 80% of the real work. Cut out the rest and focus on the core. Make the core functionality better, and you will make the entire product better.
What problems do you have?
Your flight was delayed, and you have to wait at the airport for 8 hours? What can you invent to fix the problem? Perhaps it is a service that finds the alternative flights that will catch you up with your itinerary in the least amount of time. Or maybe you can invent something to make waiting for 8 hours more enjoyable? This is what people typically think of when they think of inventions.
The problem does not even have to be big. Any minor inconvenience or discomfort is an invention waiting to happen.
If you traveled in the 1960s, you had to carry your luggage, and it wasn’t a fun thing to do. Then in 1972, Bernard D. Sadow patented luggage with wheels. People scoffed at the stupidity of the idea. Today, we can’t imagine how nobody thought of it earlier.
Make a habit of noting any inconvenience or discomfort you encounter. Each one is a problem waiting for a solution.
Find something that is one thing based on another, and reverse the roles.
You can just as easily reimagine your phone that plays music as a music player that can make calls. You can reimagine your couch that folds out into a bed as a bed that folds into a couch. Instead of reading books on a screen, maybe you can have screens in a book.
At its essence, you are deconstructing combinations people have invented and reversing the emphasis. You are thinking of the combinations from a different perspective. Sometimes that reversal will seem silly, other times it may be something novel and exciting.