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Capture Your Smart Ideas with an Ideas Log

Don't let your genius get away: hunt it down and capture it!

By
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #361

Ideas, like love, are fleeting, so when they come by, act immediately!

That's why we added a category for each idea. If you want to go wild, add a third column to hold keywords or tags. When you enter an idea, think about all the ways you might try to find it. You might try to find it based on the objects you refer to in it, like anti-gravity rays, curtains, and curtain rods. You might try to find it based on how you think you'll use the idea, "newsletter" or "article" or "speech." Give it as many tags as you think will be useful for retrieval.

Now, you can open your idea file and simply scan through it to review all your pending ideas. If you have a specific topic you want to pull out of the mix, search for it in the keywords column, and then just scan over to the idea column to read the idea.

Organize Project by Tabs

In my business, I have many projects, and sometimes my ideas relate only to one project. While I could use the "category" column for the project name, instead, I group all ideas related to a project in their own worksheet tab. When attention turns to that project, one click brings up all the relevant ideas at once. To decide whether an idea belongs on your master list, or in a project-specific list, ask what would happen if that project were canceled. If the idea would still be relevant, then it goes on your universal list. But if canceling the project would render the idea useless, it goes on the project worksheet. "Idea: promotional T-shirts with Kim's picture on it could be a big hit at the next Patriot's game" belongs on the Kim Kardashian tab, and isn't relevant for other, er, projects. "Article idea: write how promotional T-shirts can be used to increase brand awareness" is relevant for other projects and belongs on the universal list.

Sometimes you can group tabs by larger categories. You could have a tab of ideas related to distribution channels. Or a tab of ideas related to your Wednesday night trivia team. Or a tab of ideas about how to spice up your relationship (hint: despite the phrase "spice up," licking Tabasco out of someone's belly button is not only not erotic, but it can result in emergency room visits. Don't ask how I know this). You can even have a tab of cool life-hacking and productivity ideas that you intend to try out someday. The first idea in the list, of course, is to create an idea log.

Ideas, like love, are fleeting, so when they come by, act immediately! Get Get-It-Done Guyout your little Moleskine book and jot down all the relevant information. Then when you get home, enter them into the spreadsheet on the appropriate tab. Add a category column, and a keywords column, and fill them in appropriately. Then retrieval is easy-peasy, with a simple search. I'm talking about ideas, of course. If your love life requires a spreadsheet with multiple tabs and categories, write me offline because that, in itself, will probably make a great topic for a future episode..

I'm Stever Robbins. Follow @GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I help ambitious people build fast-track careers. If you want to know more, visit http://www.SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and Have a Great Life!

Paper and pen image courtesy of Shutterstock

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.