Image courtesy of h.koppdelaney via Flickr
"Ideas from from everywhere" Alfred Hitchcock
It is often said that our creativity is unleashed when part of our mind is also engaged in repetitive activities. I have a lot of my best ideas whilst driving, in the shower, on the treadmill in the gym, and so on.
The point here is that you do need to think about how you’re going to capture things wherever you are.
Here are some ideas for how you can capture your creative ideas, as they happen:
Mobiles make great capture tools – for most of us, our mobile, our wallet and our keys are they three items that travel with us everywhere we go, making the idea of ubiquitous capture so much easier than it once was.
To Do Apps: Pretty much every phone on the market these days comes with some kind of task management or to-do app, built-in. The tasks function on the Blackberry, for example, synchronises easily with Outlook and with free web-based to-do software.
Dictation and Voice Recognition: Any smartphone will record audio. There, you have a dictaphone in your pocket already! More impressive, though, are services like Dragon Dictation, which you can speak into and have your words converted into text.
MICROSOFT OUTLOOK, LOTUS NOTES AND SIMILAR PROGRAMS
Back at your desk, you still need to capture ideas to come back to later on. In the UK, Outlook is almost as ubiquitous in offices as pen and paper! It’s always a shock to us when we get off the phone to a new client and someone utters the words, “They don’t have Outlook!” because we’re just so used to seeing it wherever we go.
PEN AND PAPER
You may assume that with all this talk about information productivity, pen and paper is a doomed thing of the past, but really it’s a case of ‘horses for courses’.
Make sure you have a pen and paper handy in any place you might need to capture things. I have several stacks of paper notelets – in different rooms of my house, one directly in front of me on my desk at home and another on the desk at the office and I carry a paper notebook in my bag wherever I go.
TO POST-IT OR NOT TO POST-IT?
For many, Post-it notes are the ideal way to quickly capture ideas and many people like them for their ability to move captured thoughts around a surface such as a page or a wall, using them productively as an organising tool.
Remember, the only purpose of capturing information is only so that it flows through to the other phases here: to be organised, reviewed and then done. Whilst some do use them well, Post-it notes are not ideal for encouraging seamless flow. Instead try un-sticky, free-flowing paper notelets or even just torn up scraps of paper.
It is very easy to miss or forget ideas, nags or actions that arise during conversations with our bosses, colleagues or friends – precisely because we don’t want to break off from the conversation to capture something, so we tell ourselves we’ll come back to the job of capturing once the conversation has finished – and then, being human, sometimes we just forget.
So wherever possible, capture things during the conversation. If capturing on your phone, make clear to your colleague that you’re capturing so that they don’t think you’re just sending a text to someone else!
So many of our conversations happen electronically. In the heat of social media conversation, we can sometimes forget to keep track, as our brains are in their most flighty and least remembering of modes! However, be clear that your job here is to quickly scan relevant social media sites where you feel there may be meaningful or useful action reminders: getting your Twitter messages, Facebook updates or Linkedin messages to zero might be over-engineering and a huge waste of time!