Lightning strikes at the most inconvenient times.
→ Standing in the shower and suddenly, the best blog post idea you’ve ever had in your life washes over you and straight down the drain hole.
→ Lifting weights and the idea disappears *poof* at the clunk of the weights as they hit the ground.
→ Driving along a winding, country road with miles of inspiration and nowhere to pull over.
It’s so frustrating to finish whatever you were doing and realise the gem of an idea is gone, never to be thought of again.
I’ve lost many an idea so, a while ago, I committed to figuring out how to never lose an idea again. Here’s a list of the strategies I use to keep my ideas bucket filled to the brim.
The shower is a tough one because I consistently come up with not just one, but often two or three ideas in a single wash. I’ve been tempted to buy a whiteboard for the shower so I can jot down inspiration as it appears, but I haven’t gone to that extreme. Instead, I like to use shower time as an opportunity to strengthen my memory.
When an idea pops into my head, I consciously focus on that idea for the rest of the shower. Sure, it means I often condition my hair twice because I can’t remember if I did it the first time, so I do it again just to be sure. But I don’t forget the idea.
When I stumble upon multiple ideas, I use a similar technique, listing the main theme of each idea until I jump out and can write them down.
The key to holding onto ideas post-shower is writing them down as soon as your feet hit the floor. I’m in the habit of walking out of the shower and straight to my phone, so much so, my partner knows when I need to write and leaves me alone until I’m done.
I recently cancelled my gym membership as I wasn’t using it enough to get value for money. I have a set of free weights and resistance bands at home, so on days when I don’t cycle, I complete a strength session.
I listen to music while I train, and I often find a lot of inspiration in the words of songs. The problem; you can’t write things down while you’re holding 20kg dumbbells above your head. There’s always rest time though, and I use my time between sets to scrawl notes in my leather bound journal.
During this session, I sit my journal on the windowsill, open to the next blank page. Then I challenge myself to develop 13 ideas throughout my session. It doesn’t matter how good or bad they are. Some can be one or two words, and others can be an entire paragraph. The point is, I make time to create ideas so whenever I need some inspiration, I have a journal full of ideas flick through until something grabs me.
This is the journal I use. It sits flat on the window sill, it’s easy to write in and it looks really classy. I love writing in it.
I always struggled to keep hold of ideas that pop into my mind while driving. That is, until I discovered the voice notes options on my phone. There are two choices on my Apple iPhone 7. Ask Siri to either:
- Record a voice memo (then transcribe the memo later); or
- Use voice to text to write a note.
Generally, I use the second option as I don’t have to transcribe my mutterings later. I do have to check the note to make sure it’s correct, however, as it often confuses certain words. Never so much that I can’t understand what I was saying though.
The Ideas Bucket
The problem with my three most consistent idea generation locations is they all require a different set of storage. While I’m content to leave my list of ideas in my journal, I don’t want the remainder of my ideas in multiple locations on my phone. In order to manage my ideas and keep everything together, I have a two-step process.
First, every idea is entered onto a Trello board.
Trello is where I manage my to-do list, my ideas and my projects. This is where I write my ideas when I get out of the shower, and it’s where I transfer ideas from the notes app when I’ve used the voice to text feature.
I can see every blog post I’ve written and every blog post idea I have, all on one Trello board. I have a similar board for emails and guest blogs too.
Second, every idea is automatically transferred to Google Docs.
I write in Google Docs. I love that I can see my content from multiple devices and I can be confident it’s always backed up.
It’s a simple task to copy and paste my ideas from Trello to Google Docs, but why do something over and over again when you don’t have to? Instead, whenever I create a new card in Trello (containing a single blog post idea), I’ve set up a Zapier to automatically create a new Google Doc in my ideas folder of Google Drive.
So, when I sit down to write in the morning, I simply open my Google Drive ideas folder, choose the idea that grabs me, and start writing.
Discover what works for you, and use it.
We all come up with new ideas in different places. As you can see from the list above, it’s important to use the best idea recording option for the job. Sure I could use Trello while I’m training, and toss the journal, but I enjoy the act of creating ideas and noting them in a journal every afternoon. If I didn’t use the journal, I’d likely skip conscious idea creation altogether.
At the end of the day, there is no one way. There are only the ways that work for you.