Capturing ideas: 5 ways to grab them when inspiration strikes

Do you find that inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient moments?

  • You get a great idea for what to say in your next email post when you’re doing the dishes. 
  • You come up with that third point for a blog post you’ve been struggling with while at the supermarket.
  • You figure out the perfect way to word something while you’re walking the dog. 

And by the time you’re able to sit down at your computer, the idea or point or perfect phrase has gone. It takes you five minutes of racking your brain to get it back — and sometimes even that doesn’t help. (And then the same thing will pop up again later at an equally inconvenient time. Brains are weird.)

So here are 5 ways to take advantage of those flashes of insight and capture them before they’re gone.

Capturing Ideas Method #1: Voice memos

Your cell phone almost certainly comes with a voice recorder app. You can quickly fire it up and dictate a few notes to play back once you’re at your desk. There are also plenty of options in the App Store or Play Store if you’re looking for more features, such as having your voice memo emailed to you or transcribed and emailed.

Capturing Ideas Method #2: Note apps

You can use a note-taking app on your cell phone, tablet or laptop to jot down ideas when it’s not convenient to talk, if you want to grab a link, or if you want to copy something from a website. Some apps, like Google Keep, will allow you to take notes and record voice memos.

Capturing Ideas Method #3: Email yourself

It’s crude, but it works! With an email, you can not only send a note to yourself but also include links and attach files. It will all be there, waiting for you, when you get back to your desk and open up your email inbox. You could even just set up a draft email that you never send but which sits in your drafts folder until you’re able to look at it. (With a draft email, there’s a slightly greater risk you’ll accidentally delete the contents before you get a chance to deal with them.)

Capturing Ideas Method #4: Smart notebooks

One of my favourite purchases in the last year has been a Rocketbook “smart notebook”. A smart notebook combines reusable paper with an app that lets you take snapshots of your notes and either email them to your inbox or upload them to something like Dropbox. If your handwriting is neat enough, you can even have your notes automatically transcribed. You can then wipe the pages clean and start again. Smart notebooks are great if you want to draw diagrams and sketch pictures as well as scribble down words. I did a lot of my planning before launching this business using my Rocketbook and I now use it to jot down ideas for blog posts or products and to make to-do lists. 

Capturing Ideas Method #5: Old-fashioned pen and paper

Sometimes, the low-tech option is the best answer. Pop a pretty notebook and pen into your purse for when you’re out and about. Keep one on your bedside table if inspiration often strikes as you’re drifting off to sleep. Or add a second notepad in your kitchen next to the one you use for shopping lists.

Whatever method you choose, there’s no need to let those great ideas slip away, no matter where and when they pop up.

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