I don’t go anywhere without my trusty reporter’s notebook. Friends kid me about it sometimes, but losing it would be akin to losing my wallet. Why? I would feel helpless without it because I keep notes about EVERYTHING in it… personal and professional. If it’s on the "To Do" list in my notebook, it gets done – PERIOD.
If something is not written in my notebook or on my calendar, it's out of sight, out of mind…gone, forgotten, non-existent.
The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. ~ Linus Pauling
MY IDEA CATCHER ROUTINE
Another important aspect of my notebook is its running list of ideas. I write in it constantly. I make notes for blog entries, video scripts and visuals, business ideas, products to create, headlines to write, titles of books to read or to write and so on. I take notes on magazine articles when I am reading at the hairdresser and make notes when I read the morning newspaper. I sometimes get up at night when I am trying to fall asleep to write down a phrase that is rolling around in my head. When I spill what's stuck in my head onto paper (some call it a brain dump, but I am not enamored of that term), it frees and quiets my mind to relax or to move on to other thoughts.
Yes, ideas are everywhere, but I find I generally have to catch them when they arise or they're gone. You could certainly keep such lists on your computer, tablet or smartphone. There are probably software programs or apps that can do this, but I like to keep things simple. My system consists of a notebook, a calendar and an editorial calendar.
I do use a Google calendar online which I can share with others, but I also write down calendar items in a spiral day planner. I love technology, but for me, putting pen to paper for some tasks is more satisfying than digital notetaking and calendar entries. I've played around with various online tools and software but ultimately the best productivity system, like the best video camera, is the one you will actually use.
WHY AN IDEA NOTEBOOK HAS VALUE
When you have pages and pages of ideas, you won’t ever be stuck for content creation which saves time and reduces stress. Maybe you won't use the exact idea you jotted down months ago. Now, you may see a connection between a couple of them and combine ideas together or see an entirely new angle on what you wrote. Sometimes simply thumbing through the pages can spark another idea. Who knows? One of these scribbled entries might turn out to be a killer concept and a profitable light bulb moment! Perhaps my little notebook has a 6-figure $$$ idea lurking inside.
Years ago, The National Science Foundation estimated the human brain produces 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day and while most thoughts are not IDEAS, surely some of them must be. Imagine the possibilities if you jotted down those ideas! As any student of history will tell you, one good idea can change the world: CNN – 10 Ideas that Changed the World
I was having coffee with a friend recently when she suddenly whipped out a notebook and said, “Hold that thought. That would make a good blog post.” I laughed because I don't remember her doing that before. Maybe she always has or maybe my little habit is rubbing off.
SUGGESTED HOME WORK:
With all the back-to-school sales going on right now, why not buy an inexpensive spiral notebook and start an "idea-catcher" habit of your own? Let me know how it goes.
Do you have another way to keep track of ideas? Please share with a comment!