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How to Capture Ideas

Photo by Sofia Katariina

My work requires me to interact with many types of people. And, during the course of my meeting them I have come up with three categories of people so far, based on my observations on how people manage their work:

  1. People who rely one-hundred-percent on their memory. These people remember each and every detail of what has been discussed.
  1. People who do not rely on their memory, and always carry a small notebook with them. Such people are meticulous, highly efficient, steadfast, and always well-organized.
  1. People who rely one-hundred-percent on their memory, but do not have the capability to afterwards remember the details of the discussion. This reduces their productivity.

Writing things down helps in collecting and organizing your thoughts. Your thoughts seem more concrete when you can see them in front of you. I like thinking on paper, because it forces me to be specific with my thoughts. Plus, I have my thinking process written down so that I have a way of recollecting my thoughts.

I also find that writing my ideas down tend to lighten my mental load. Once written down, I can let that thought bubble burst. By letting one thought subside, I can easily move on to another with a blank slate.

I own several idea notebooks to keep track of spontaneous ideas. I prefer the small spiral bound books that fits in your hands. They are easy to fit in a purse or pocket, which means I am more likely to carry it with me. I get mine from Target for $1.29, they have a hardcover with a snap closure. I have them sprinkled around the house and inside every bag I own, so that I’ll always have something to dump my thoughts on.

Ever since I’ve adopted to writing everything down, not a thought is lost. This also makes linking ideas easy when I need to do creative brainstorming.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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44 thoughts on How to Capture Ideas

  1. Great post! I love carrying a notebook with me everywhere and catching those fleeting inspirations that I might otherwise forget. Plus, since I’m in Italy now, it helps me remember new words that I’ve learned, as well as words I want to look up later.

    I found you via the Carnival of Creative Growth, by the way. Did you see my article there entitled “Write Yourself a Permission Slip”?

  2. jd

    Hey Tina –

    I use a post-it notes. I try to limit each post-it to a key concept, insight or action. I find that it’s easy for me to then stick the post-it wherever I need it most. There’s something nice too about having focused little post-it notes that I can easily shuffle.

  3. I think I need to take your advice. I’ve been doing list of 20 or 100 things (ie. 100 desires of 20 things I need/want to do) but it helps a lot to write things down as you think of them. Time for me to go get a notepad.

  4. I agree – writing clears my head, and allows me room to think. Also, blogging regularly helps me express myself, and develop thoughts. I will say I don’t have written goals – I’ve just never done it. Maybe in the future…

    Thanks for the tips!
    Mohit Garg

  5. Yes its a record of what you were thinking. I have already noticed how interesting it is to just go back a month to see what I was thinking then. I believe that when you have kept a record of your thoughts for quite a while you’ll have some fascinating reading on your hands. It can also show you how you have changed and improved

  6. michelle

    Let me share this with you a good freind just sent it to me its quite wonderful. Although I just like to use my iphone which i carry all the time theres something about holding a pen….

  7. Amazing Post!

    I always post blog to share my thoughts with others and try to use community website for the same. These ways help to make me friends online and share things with them.

    Cheers :)

  8. Thanks for the comment…very interesting topic

  9. putting down your thoughts percepts concepts brainchild on a mobile record is simply the best thing you can do to clear your mind … becos if you dont it obstructs clear thinking .. i’ve got a pda, a cell and jotter all of which can serve me at any time.. the problem I used to have were reviewing this thots of mine later on… so most times they pile up. .. and ive got this very busy life … but what i have come to realize now is that ~no matter how busy or disorganized ur life might be once you have a plan and a goal for every second you live, you have nothing to worry about~.

  10. Aylott

    What is the solution when your situation does not adapt itself to being able to jot it down in a note pad?

    How do you top level categorise your thouhts and how do you apply any additional intelligence to them?


  11. Ngan

    thanks for your post! I have started to read gradually your posts in this website. I find a lot of helpful and interesting thing in your writing. I assist me so much to improve my soft skill as well the way I treat my life. I had already noted many my good ideas and after reading this post, it made me more strong, solid make decisions.

  12. Greetings from Idaho! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the knowledge you present here and can’t
    wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .
    . Anyhow, fantastic blog!

  13. Nyuk Nyuk

    I have to admit that I’m a little bit evil.

    I manipulate wishy washy people by always having a pen and notepad. Then I remind them that whatever they’re about to say better be worth writing down.

    Always gets them to stfu.

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