Capturing Important Ideas

Don’t you just hate it when that brilliant idea disappears from your mind, just as fast as it popped in there, in the first place?  Way too many times, I have had clever ideas for marketing, or a blog topic or a solution to a client’s problem – and then promptly forgot it! And then I’ll try to remember and get frustrated – and the more frustrated I get, the less chance I have of actually recalling that thought.  

Of course, this also happens to other thoughts – not just brilliant (or less brilliant) ideas.  While driving to the office, I might remember that I need to call Susan.  Or that I really need to make that dentist appointment. Oh, and I must pick up dishwashing liquid for the office.  And so it goes on.  Ideas, thoughts, memories – it all swirls around our heads.  The only issue we have, is that it all evaporates as soon as the next thought rolls on in.  Is it just me or does this happen to you too?

The Thought Receptacle

The only way I have found to beat the beast of forgetting is to capture each idea or important thought, as it comes to mind.  Of course, most of these ideas and thoughts turn up when you don’t have a notebook handy!  Murphy’s Law. But there are ways and means to deal with this.

The core of this plan is to have a “thought receptacle”.  Figuratively speaking, of course.  Wearing an IKEA glass jar around your neck is NOT the idea!  Instead, find a way (or more than one way) to capture thoughts and ideas, as they come up.  The main thing is that you can trust your system.  So, you need a “thought receptacle” that you will check every day to enable you to action those thoughts and ideas.  

Personally, I have found using various methods of capturing thoughts works best.

Different Thought Receptacles

  • I carry a pack of Post-It notes everywhere I go.  These I use to capture ideas and thoughts – one note per idea.
  • I have a notebook on my desk in the office and another one next to my bed – for those two-o-clock-in-the-morning ideas.  
  • Voice memos are brilliant while driving.  

All through the day (and sometimes the night too!) I’ll capture thoughts and ideas using these three methods.

But here’s the thing:  you need to have a system in place to ensure that you actually look at and action those ideas.  My system is simple.  I have a 30-minute slot every morning where I process items from my Thought Receptacles. I’ll look at each sticky note, both notebooks and listen to all voice memos.  I’ll then schedule actions to be taken and add things to my “Waiting Room” which does not need to be actioned immediately.

Your Thought Receptacle

If you are tired of forgetting those amazing ideas or just fed up with carrying it all in your head, you might want to consider creating a thought receptacle system. Use whatever works for you.  Keep it simple.  And most importantly, schedule time to process everything in your thought receptacle.