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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. hemant

    yup. this is key. the more you can write down, the more you are freed to think. and make sure it’s of the size where you’ll take it *everywhere* with you. i will often forget to take my phone, but almost never forget my notebook.

    at first it seems weird to write stuff down. but once you start doing it, it becomes addictive. you never know when you’ll want to refer back to that suggestion for a dive bar, book, website, or product. or when you’ll want to remember an intelligent quote or advice from a friend.

    i get my notebooks from the motherland, where they cost about $.25 each. but I love them because they are hardcover (by the time the hardcover is destroyed – i’m just about finishing the pages in the book), and they fit perfectly in my back pocket (I find moleskines to be too large for me to carry everywhere with me)

  2. Thanks for the comment Hemant. I know what you mean. I have a moleskin that I just started to use, but it stays at home, I find it slightly big for me to carry everywhere. Motherland = India, yes? :)

  3. Just a note to let you know that, I added you to my list of tags to join in Alex Shalman’s “Caring Compassion Charity”.

  4. Angela

    I can relate. I also got into journaling (& sketching) my ideas/thoughts/quotes I come across in the many notebooks I own. The great part about looking for one is the variety of styles, sizes, themes, textures you can find that suits each persons desire to write (or draw since it is an easier way to recall ideas for the visual memory folks like myself). I’ve found once I’ve purchased a new book it’s inspiring enough to have me look for new ideas to fill the pages with. At other times I also have the ‘voice memo’ option on my cell phone for those moments on the road :)
    (btw, great photo attachment above!)

  5. I’m the type that remembers everyhing. It also helps that I have photographic memory. But still I’ve made a habit of writing things down in either a small notebook or OneNote, like you said you can always come be back to it and review it. This always helps because you actually make new idea connections. Great post!

  6. I totally agree with you, Tina.

    Writing down helps in collecting and organizing your thoughts. There is great wisdom in writing down our thoughts.

    “One minute spent writing it down will do more to bring it about than ten years of dreaming, wishing, and talking about it.”

    Best Wishes
    Let’s Acquire Wisdom and Live with Passion

  7. Hey Ange! Question, do you ever come back and write down what you recorded on your “voice memo”. I’ve tried that before, and found that I always left the voice recording there and never actually wrote them down. hehe.. Thanks for commenting!

  8. Hi Jorge,
    Thanks for giving your 2cents. I wished I had a perfect memory. :) Best, Tina

  9. Hmmmm.. I love that quote “One minute spent writing it down will do more to bring it about than ten years of dreaming, wishing, and talking about it.” I’m gonna write this one down. Thanks for sharing Sam!

  10. Yolanda

    In China, there is an old saying that”Bad noting is even better than good memory” That’s it.

  11. Sarah F

    “Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.” I have learnt this the hard way, now I take my notepad (polaroids) everywhere I go.

  12. Thanks Yolanda and Sarah F!

    I love the quotes.

  13. I belong to the #2 as well, but I don’t think I am as organized as you are. I don’t have a notebook with me when I travel, so if I remember something, I make a note on my cellular phone.

  14. The more you can write down, the more you are free to think. Make sure your notebook is of the size where you’ll take it *everywhere* with you. i will often forget to take my phone, but almost never forget my notebook.

    At first it seems weird to write stuff down. but once you start doing it, it becomes addictive. You never know when you’ll want to refer back to that suggestion for a dive bar, book, website, or product or when you’ll want to remember an intelligent quote or advice from a friend.

  15. Thank you Junelle and Sachin! Love your inputs. Tina

  16. Yes, good tips. I do keep note books for ideas too, but not as many as you do. Perhaps I should start to keep many note books handy around my house, so that they are always within reach.
    I like post it too, pasting it near my PC, i will surely not miss ;)

    Best
    Gamy

  17. Thanks, nice post.

    How about putting things in your mobile-phone’s notes?.. This will come much handy when you don’t like to carry a note-book with you. :-)

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