We’ve all been there. We’re driving down the street, singing in the shower, or laying in bed at 2AM when we find ourselves suddenly and almost randomly inspired. This genius idea has been bestowed upon you and you’re just hoping that you remember this amazing idea when you have the opportunity to write it down.
Fast forward a few hours later and when you go to write it down, just as easily it has entered your brain it seems to have escaped.
Unfortunately, this problem is not 100% avoidable. However, there are plenty of methods that you can implement that will minimize the amount of times you find yourself ill-prepared to capture your amazing, life changing idea when it strikes.
Before you review the strategies it helps to try and identify any common areas or times that you find yourself most creative. For example, during my commute I come up with a ton of book, blog, and business ideas. Sometimes, I’m feeling so inspired that I intentionally shut off my audiobook or music and drive in silence. This seems to help me land on some sort of idea. It isn’t a necessity to have this time or place but it certainly helps to know and therefore prepare yourself accordingly.
Regardless, the key to capturing your ideas can be broken down into three phases.
Phase 1: Record the idea.
This phase is crucial, possibly the most important of the three because it allows your brain to let the information go without losing it. To do this, you want to focus on surrounding yourself with resources that help you record your idea. Here are a few examples:
While in the shower, place your iPad in the bathroom. If it is a fairly up to date iPad then it is voice activated, so if you find yourself thinking about something you want to recall later, simply say “Siri, set reminder…”
While in bed, keep your smartphone next to you where you can either type in a reminder or verbally set the reminder. Alternatively, if you prefer to keep your phone away from you while you sleep just leave a small notebook and pen within reach.
When driving, if you have a fairly new car then activate the bluetooth that is hooked up to your phone where you can set a reminder.
Anywhere else, just keep a small notebook and pen or a smart phone with you and you’ll be able to get everything recorded. If you don’t have a smartphone just text the reminder to yourself as reference.
Moral of the story: take advantage of the technology around you to help record your ideas. Do not rely on your memory.
Phase 2: Place idea in your idea database.
So now that you have a long list of reminders and notes containing the ideas that you have had the last few days it is time to get them down on an easily accessible list. I recommend you do this once per week. Personally, I do this every Sunday night. I sit down to set my goals for the upcoming week. Before I write down any goals, I review my ideas. I either incorporate them into the goals if appropriate or I add them to my idea database.
For me I keep all of this content in Evernote.
I love it because it is easy to use, and provides a ton of options such as saving articles at the push of a button from any device, easily searching and finding your notes, reminders, and much more. At the time I write this article I can tell you that I am not an affiliate, rather I am just a guy who uses it multiple times per day with multiple devices and loves it.
Phase 3: Regularly refer to your idea database.
Whether you decide to use Evernote or something else I strongly recommend that your database be something you can access from multiple locations/devices. For example, I might have an idea that I type directly into Evernote with my phone or iPad, but then on Sunday night when I check out with my computer it is there.
I often just look over my database (and goals) multiple times per day. I find that it helps keep me motivated and creative.
Work on these three phases and you’ll be an idea machine and a much more productive writer!