“Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference.” – Nolan Bushnell
I hate losing things. It drives me crazy when I can’t find something that belongs to me. Everything gets turned upside down in search of that missing thing. Don’t let it be money! Losing money throws me off my equilibrium.
As bad as losing things and losing money is, probably the only thing worse is losing ideas. Ideas are the raw materials that can generate money and buy things. But so much more than that, ideas can change lives…including yours.
So maybe you are like me and you have had a great idea…but not at the best time. You thought you would come back to it and remember it at a more convenient time. And you have experienced the sad reality like I have that ideas tend to fly away. Maybe you have sat racking your brain trying to recreate it. You knew it would change your job, your business, your ministry, your writing project, your family, your life. But the thought had totally escaped you. How do you change that? How can we ensure that we don’t lose ideas?
Here are just a few keys that I have gleaned from my experience and that of those who make things happen.
- Distrust your memoryMaybe you have been told you have a great memory. I believe you do. But most of our memory is not as good as we make it out to be. Our brain is doing so much work at any time that you would give it a pass for letting a couple sparks of inspiration slip through the cracks after holding on to it for a period of time.
The first key to capturing ideas is to NOT depend on your brain to store in “ready to be accessed” memory all of the good ideas that come your way.
- Write, record, repeat“A short pencil is better than a long memory.” In order to not let ideas escape you need to have a system to capture them. The oldest and best system is simply pen (or pencil) and paper. People who generate and act on a lot of their inspired thoughts, keep these two items close to them at all times. They have notebooks or journals or notepads that they use to write stuff down.
I have heard of people who keep a journal by their bedside so that they can write down the thoughts that flood their mind during sleep that may need to be acted upon later. What I’m saying is have something to write it down.
Technology has opened up the tools available to us. Smart phones have a notes app to write things down. Use it! Don’t let anything get away from you especially if you are glued to your phone.
I was sitting in a room with Ty Gibson, author and speaker, during a meeting last year. Someone was presenting from the front and Ty was sitting behind me. All of a sudden I could hear Ty echoing what was said from the front. He was recording the quote into a voice memo on his phone. As a writer, Ty is very clear that he could not let good ideas slip away.
Sometimes your best idea may be while driving and you cannot write it down. It is safer to record a voice memo. Don’t lose that million dollar, world changing idea. Record it!
There are so many tools people use such as evernote etc. It really does not matter which tool you use…use it. You may even use a combination of a bunch of things like I do.
- Don’t discard ideasSometimes the reason why we do not write ideas down or record them or even quickly dismiss them from our minds is that we dismiss their validity and viability too easily. Many of us doubt ourselves way too much and so we extinguish the spark in our minds before we allow it to bring light into the world.
All of the greatest inventions and innovations we now live with started off just like that thought you have been tempted to discard. Self-doubt, wondering what others would say, not sure of next steps, all play into our thought process and we wonder if to even bother capturing the idea.
My admonition to you is don’t lose any idea. That’s not the same as saying use every idea.
Someone who has never met you may need just what you have. So stop losing it. Capture it.
In the next blog we will talk about what to do with all the ideas you gather.