Ideas are precious. Especially in this Internet age where many things quickly becomes commodity, ideas are what set you apart and keep you ahead of the pack. You need to always have good and fresh ideas.
Unfortunately, we often cannot anticipate when an idea will come. Suddenly, out of the blue, comes the idea. It doesn’t care whether you are at home, on the road, or in the office. It doesn’t care what you are doing. It just comes. Even worse, it will quickly go. And once it goes, chance is it will never come back. So the challenge is capturing those ideas during its short visit without ever letting it go.
How can you do that? Here are four ways:
- Bring a piece of paper and a pen wherever you go
This is my favorite method. When I go out, writing on paper is the fastest way to capture an idea. I used to write my ideas on PDA, but I now think it’s too slow because it may not be able to recognize my handwriting on the first try. I often need to repeat writing. By writing on paper, I can write just once and it’s done. I will later transfer the ideas from the paper to a more permanent place which acts as my “idea warehouse”. I use Microsoft OneNote for that (also check the post Using OneNote for Idea Management).
- Use Google Desktop’s Scratch Pad
How do you quickly capture ideas while you are using a computer? Of course there are many ways to do that. You can open a word processor or create a text file. But I guess the fastest way is using Scratch Pad from Google Desktop. It’s always visible in the sidebar so you do not need to find and launch any program. And it automatically saves the text written in it, so you don’t even need to press a Save button. It’s a quick way to get the idea out of your mind and put it in a safe place.
- Write a draft message in your cell phone
Okay, sometimes you may forget to bring a piece of paper with you when you go out. But you won’t forget to bring your cell phone with you, will you? So in such case, you can write your ideas as a new text message in your cell phone and save it as draft. It is not as quick as writing on paper, but it’s still a safe and sure way to capture your ideas when you don’t have a piece of paper with you.
- Tell someone about it
Why should you bear all the burden yourself? Share it with someone else :). You can tell your friend about your idea and ask her to help remind you about it. You don’t even need to be physically in the same location as her. You can call or send her a text message.