Most people struggle to do what innovators excel at: connecting the unconnected. Here are three ways to get in the habit of making new associations: Just do it. Force associations across different ideas when they don't come naturally. Ask yourself: What else could this idea be connected to? Shake it up. When associations don't emerge, try forcing them to surface. Put seemingly unrelated ideas or words together and see what comes to mind. The creative combinations may spark a new idea. Repeat. Research shows that if you practice associational thinking long enough, the task will energize you rather than exhaust you.