Are you a blogger, writer, content creator or someone who relies on ideas and creativity to do their job? Then you’ll have had the frustrating experience of thinking of a brilliant idea at the most random of times, when you can’t pin in down and ‘record’ it anywhere.
Think about the ideas you had when you’re having a shower, driving, walking the dog, when you’re waiting for your children to fall asleep, or are about to drift off yourself!
Seeing that a ‘brain dump’ app (scary!) hasn’t been invented yet, here are a few things you can do to not lose your ideas.
1. Keep a notebook with you
I know it sounds like a fairly obvious one, and you probably have a whole bunch of them with notes scribbled all over the place anyway, but if you pick one and make that your ‘ideas notebook’, it will work. Choose one where you feel you have enough space to jot ideas down and potentially one that you can take with you – around the house but also when out and about (in your handbag or laptop bag for example).
If you’re reading this and thinking the idea of physical, paper notebook is totally old-school, hear me out. There’s an advantage to this – you can see all your ideas in front of you as you turn the pages, and that can boost your creativity even further.
I know you’ve experienced that moment when you finally get to sit down to do some work, and your brain has gone blank. Well, all you have to do is open your notebook, pick an idea that inspires you and fly with it!
2. Have a way of recording ideas on your phone
I use the Evernote app for this, but any other app or functionality that lets you take notes will work just fine. This is handy for those times when you can’t get to your notebook (or another piece of paper) – you might have an idea while you’re out for a walk, for example, quickly typing it into your phone allows you to record it there and then.
So many times I get an idea in the middle of the night or before falling asleep, and I’ve now learnt to quickly make a note of it on my phone. You wouldn’t believe the times I’ve actually thought to myself: “Oh this is great – I’ll definitely remember it in the morning!” And of course in the morning the idea is gone and never coming back!
Obviously if you have more of a ‘digital preference’ (over the old-school paper notebook) you may want to use your phone as the main place where you keep all your notes. But whichever way you choose, make sure you keep them all in one place.
3. Anchor your ideas to something else
There are also times when you can’t get to your notebook, a scrap piece of paper or your phone though. So if I’m driving for example, I’ll try and make a mental note between the idea I had and something else – something I’ll be seeing, using or doing.
So say, I had an idea for a blog post about finding time to meditate. In my head I’ll repeat a few times “find time to meditate = house keys”. Of course if I’m 5 minutes from home I’m likely to remember it anyway. But if not, I’ll probably end up thinking about lots of other things by the time I get there, and I’m very likely to forget unless I create a mental link with something else. Like finding the house keys. When I do look for the house keys, the idea will come back to me, and I’ll jot it down wherever I can.
4. Transfer all ideas to your notebook and articulate them as soon as you can
Whatever place you decide is the ‘hub’ for your ideas (a notebook or your phone), make sure you transfer all ideas onto the notebook or phone app as soon as you can. Do this at regular intervals, otherwise you may have ideas scattered all over the place (on post-it’s, scrap papers, or notes on your phone), and if you never get back to them, they are as good as lost.
To avoid this, as soon as you have time, make sure you also try and flash them out. If you’re thinking of writing an How To article about something for example, and you want to highlight 5 different points about that topic, make a note of what the 5 points are. If you don’t, chances are you’ll struggle when it’s time to write your post.
When adding details try and add as many as come to your mind (bullet points, quick notes or phrases). For example, if you have thought of a nice title or introduction for a blog post, write it down. If a lot of time passes before you can actually get writing, and you’ve only made a quick note of a topic, you may not remember what you wanted to write about specifically. Or you may have lost that catchy title you had thought of.
5. Make sure you schedule ideas in
If you’re writing a blog post, even if the structure for it is fairly flashed out, you may find that if you don’t schedule it in, you may just leave it unfinished and never return to it. Other ideas will come in at a more suitable time (for example, when you sit down to work), you’ll find it easier to work through those and forget about anything older.
So try and make sure you have a way of scheduling your posts up – this will keep you accountable and help you turn your ideas into actual blog posts that see the light.
What about you? Do you have any more tips to share to never lose creative ideas?