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“Take a simple idea and take it seriously.” – Charlie Munger

Have you ever had an idea that you just blew off?

I used to do this quite a bit, but then I read about the importance of capturing your ideas and have been doing so ever since. In the old days, we needed pen and paper. Today, with the capabilities of our tablets and cell phones, we can simply record our ideas. Now, if I have a pen and paper I will write the note down because it’s actually more efficient. It’s more efficient because you still have to transcribe the recordings or figure out how you will store them or find them for easy retrieval.

So, what’s the big deal about all of this? What I discovered was that over time, after developing this habit, I got more ideas, and more ideas, and more ideas. It’s like a garden hose with increasing pressure. Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t happen all of the time. This “voice”, if you will, needs to be prompted. You have to ask it a question or present it with a problem. Once you do, particularly if you’ve been doing this a while, it will deliver.

Here are a few examples:

I had to give a public talk a few months ago. I started doing some research and asked, “What are the best things to talk about?” and “How do I organize the talk?” Then the ideas began flowing. I started preparing for the talk about a month in advance and by the time I began finalizing things, I had over 3 pages of notes, quotes, and ideas. As I began going through these notes and ideas, the format for my talk literally built itself.

I had a financial problem. I didn’t know where to turn, so I asked the question. How do I fix this? Again, the ideas and answers began coming. This is almost like an internal brainstorming session. You ask the question and all kinds of ideas come. Write all of them down. Do not judge them. Why? Because if you refute every single thing this inner voice gives you it is the same as not writing your ideas down. Have you ever been in a situation where a friend asks you for advice and then, every idea you pass along they reject? Frustrating right? I think the same applies to this inner voice.

I would also recommend giving this time. Typically, when I ask a question the ideas will come in spurts. Some within a few minutes; others over the next few days. Ask the question and collect. Once you’ve collected a good chunk of ideas, start going through them. Which ones seem to be most aligned with your goals or tasks? Once you’ve decided on which ones are most relevant to what you need to do, then it’s time to organize them in a cohesive order. Like I mentioned before, this tends to take care of itself, once you start reading through your collected ideas. The format or way you organize the ideas begins to take shape and a form begins taking shape. Then you’re off to the races.

Random Ideas

You’ll also get ideas about any number of things. Maybe an adjustment to your diet, a new way to organize your office or home, a better way to track your bills. It could be about anything. Capture them. If I’m on the road and I don’t have a trusty pen and paper, I used the recorder on my phone. If I am at my desk, I grab my journal and write it down. If I’m in my journaling app online, I can even jot it there. The trick is to write it down and remember where it is for capture.

When and where do I capture all of these ideas? My to-do app. I currently use a to-do app called Toodledo. This app is pretty versatile. It has a list section, task section, notes section, outline section, and habits section. All in one. I put all of these ideas into the lists section. In this lists section, I have all kinds of categories, like my bucket list, my someday/maybe list, my next actions list, my projects list, and so on. My to-do list is the area that I put everything new. The key is to process this list!

Well, that’s how I handle the ideas that pop into my head. How do you handle your ideas? Have you discovered the same thing I have?

Until next time…

Dave