The Secret of Capturing Ideas

Ever have a great idea… and then lose it?

Ever have an important piece of information and when you go to use it… it’s gone?

Do you lose todos?  How about notes?  Or even appointments?

It is important to capture ideas and information when they happen.

Otherwise, they often go back to where they came from… which is nowhere.

Capture Ideas When They Happen

Where do great ideas come from?  Better yet, when do they come?

Where and when do you get your best ideas?  In the shower?  At the gym?  While you are sleeping?

Ever get an idea so great that it woke you up?

The other day, I was taking a Sunday afternoon nap when I suddenly got an idea.  Then two. I had to capture these great ideas.  Right then!

I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs, and immediately started typing on my computer.

The most important thing about new ideas and information is that you are ready to capture them.

Great Ideas… Lost.

Capturing ideas and information is about discipline and the right tools.

Are you ready to jot down that passing todo that you couldn’t act on right now?

How about that random note that may be important in the future.  Did you capture that?

Capturing is a very important skill.  And you need to have a system and tools that support your efforts.  Here are just a few tips to help you capture the ideas and information that you may encounter:

  1. Ideas – Ideas tend to pop-up during the strangest times.  Whether your ideas come to you while in the shower or at the gym, make sure you have method of capturing them.  Whether it is a small notebook in the bathroom or on your phone at the gym.
  2. Calendar Appointments – Many people hesitate to put appointments on their calendar until they are final.  Capture all appointments.  Even placeholders or tentative plans!  Most people hesitate to do this for themselves but have no problem with others throwing things on their calendar.
  3. Tasks – When you think of that random todo, write it down immediately.  Make sure your todo list is always visible and that you keep it within reach.
  4. Notes – Keep all your notes in one place.  I keep all my important notes in one notebook.  That way I know exactly where to go when I am looking for an important piece of information that I captured.  I prefer Moleskine notebooks (affiliate link).
  5. Contact info – In this day of Google and the Internet, many people underestimate the power of collecting contact info.  However, a lot of contact information is not readily available on the web.  Having your contacts’ information at your fingertips is extremely powerful.

Capture It Before It’s Gone

Sometimes the best ideas are fleeting.  They can appear out of nowhere.  And be gone just as quickly.

When information or ideas comes into your life, make sure you are ready to capture it.

You never know when you might need it again.  Or when the next million dollar idea might hit you while you are in the shower.

How do you capture your best ideas?  How do you capture important information?

Related Posts:

Where Do You Take Your Notes?

How Fast Is Your Quick Draw?

Why You Need That Phone Number

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Heathero

    I carry a notebook everywhere. On the rare occasion that I don’t, I have evernote on my phone. Invaluable!

    • Love Evernote! Use it on my iPhone to capture lots of great info. 🙂

  • My personal favourite capture tool has become PlainText (http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/plaintext) synced with dropbox. I can access this from my phone and my computer which covers 99% the possible idea times.

    I like the idea of thinking of capturing as a skill though. Can you work to develop this skill. Maybe record at the end of every day how many ideas you captured? This would encourage you to capture all ideas, even bad ones. I am a firm believer that you can’t have good ideas if you don’t give yourself permission to have bad ones too

    • Agree! It definitely is a skill that you can develop.

      You will find that over time you are more disciplined at recording information and notes. I think it is something that can be developed/learned.

      Like you thought around “bad ideas,” too. You have to take them all in. You never know which will pan out and which will not.

  • Daniel Nunes

    And why not to use a SaaS solution to capture ideas? 🙂
    We have developed a solution to enable this: Teepin – http://www.teepin.com
    Please, take a look!

    • Looks like an interesting group/team solution!

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Ken

    Notational Velocity on the Mac & Simplenote on the iPhone synch to provide me a simple, plain text solution to documenting virtually everything! Trying to go paperless, and these apps are growing on me quickly. Appreciate the post!

    • Thanks for sharing. Some good tools.

      I too sync notes across my iPhone, computer, and iPad. Let’s me have all my info no matter where I am.

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  • JimBennett

    Thanks for the great article, We all lose opporunity and complicate our lives for want of the information we had and lost.

    My son and I have created a tool that can be used to capture ideas rapidly whetger they come from your imagination, a slip of paper, a voicemail, you can capture them, develop them and make things happen.

    We call this tool PlanItPad and you can use it for FREE at http://planitpad.com

    Its has simple screen so the tool is not in they way of creativity.

    Thanks!

  • JimBennett

    Thanks for the great article, We all lose opporunity and complicate our lives for want of the information we had and lost.

    My son and I have created a tool that can be used to capture ideas rapidly whetger they come from your imagination, a slip of paper, a voicemail, you can capture them, develop them and make things happen.

    We call this tool PlanItPad and you can use it for FREE at http://planitpad.com

    Its has simple screen so the tool is not in they way of creativity.

    Thanks!

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  • Rinat Klapholz

    Great article! I completely identify with the importance of needing to capture my ideas, thoughts and to-dos in order to make sure they are not forgotten or gone, as you say. I’m using ClickMe (clickme.co) to capture all my important information. ClickMe enables me to create reminders on my phone in a fast and clever way – this way I can keep track of all the things I must do and I am always reminded at the right moment!!