10 Over-The-Top Ways To Not Lose Ideas
Who says we don’t possess magic?
We create magic every day, but most of us just lose it before it can ever take effect.
I imagine it to be like pixie dust, instead of fluttering glitter, it is a little bit harsher – sparks of light akin to bolts of lightning zapping forth the creation of an idea. However, it dies off when we don’t give life to it by putting it to work, or worse still, forgetting about it altogether.
Think of the things that surround you right now. Maybe there’s a bag of chips on your lap (not judging), you’re on your phone scrolling through this article, and lounging on your office chair. Everything you are in physical contact with is someone’s realised idea.
I think it is time to quit losing ideas in this attention-grabbing world. Your idea could be what we need to solve an emerging issue, but because it was not written down and acted upon, the idea disappears and… wait, what was that again? I just had it in my head! NOW I CAN’T RECALL!
Do you realise that most eureka moments come to you at an inconvenient time? In my case, it comes when I am driving, bathing, or in the middle of a conversation (and the idea has no connection with the topic of discussion).
Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got to go to war against losing our ideas (no matter how good or bad they are). I mean, what if our next idea puts us on the path to being billionaires?
Here are some actionable steps you can take to not lose ideas:
1. Morning Pages
Have a notebook handy on your bedside table. When you wake up, instead of reaching for your phone, grab that notebook and start writing your stream of consciousness. You can start with half a page, one page, two pages – whatever. The idea is to write what you are thinking. Ideas come in the form of, “I think I should,” or “Maybe I can…”
When you spot these words in your morning pages, view them as actionable ideas that you can work on. They may not be THE idea for success, but they are ideas that may lead you toward success.
2. Bathroom pad or bathtub markers
Some people host concerts in the shower, I host brainstorming sessions instead (with my various alter egos). It is not like I purpose myself to do it, but just happens, somehow! A quick Google search told me that dopamine is released in our brains when we are scrub-a-dub-dubbing.
To preserve your ideas and not let them flow down the drain, have a waterproof bathroom notepad or bathtub markers with you. If you are scribbling on the bathroom tiles, just remember to wipe it off later.
3. Clip your receipts
Naturally a hoarder, I don’t throw my receipts away. However, I have found some use for it. These receipts usually end up in the car or handbag. Compile them together, clip it at the top, and you’ll have a little makeshift notebook. Keep it in the car. If an idea comes knocking, scribble it on your little pad at the stoplights, and get to it later. I don’t like to use real notebooks in the car because I don’t want to mencakar-ayamkan (scribble messily on) my notebooks.
4. Command record
If you are doing something that involves your hands and you can’t jot your thoughts down, call out to your trusty smartphone to voice record your idea. Apple users, say “Hey Siri, record my voice.” The voice memo app will open and you just have to click record. For Android users, you have Google Assistant. If you don’t want to use all of that, dictate your ideas on your notes app so you won’t have to revisit your voice notes and transcribe them.
5. Get a personal assistant
Okay, maybe not really a personal assistant, but a friend that can act as a personal assistant when your brain starts to churn out ideas. I am guilty of this (horrible friend, I know) but, when I am out with my friends and suddenly an idea sparks, I am that irritating person who would exclaim, ‘Wait, I have an IDEA!”
I’ll get one of my friends to type it down, or I might steer the conversation away for a little bit to get my idea out and on paper. Because my brain runs faster than my hands can write, one of my friends (or sister) will usually note it down for me. It does not always happen, but it has happened a couple of times.
6. Sketch pad
Not all ideas come in the form of words, sometimes it is a design that needs to be sketched out. Do yourself a favour and have a sketchpad with you wherever you go. We draw inspiration and generate the best ideas at unexpected times after all – just remember to have a writing tool with you too.
7. Accountability partner
Do you have a brain dump person? You don’t need to have one, but a friend who wants to see you thrive and possesses a fair amount of wisdom would be a good person to confide in. When you discuss and debate over an idea, it becomes refined. He or she will call bull to something that is, but you can’t see – yet. However, that friend will also be able to give input to your ideas, making it more tangible.
8. Send yourself an email
I’ve got this cheat I’ve used before when I worked in the corporate world. Maybe some people might call it curi tulang, but aiyah, now a lot of companies have pool tables to encourage you to work as you play, so I don’t feel guilty about doing this. When an idea comes in (that has nothing to do with the task I am working on) but I’ve got to look busy, I take the liberty to send an email of the idea to myself. Set the font size to the smallest and type away. If you don’t want to send it, keep it in your drafts and revisit it later.
9. Google window of searches
Do you have like a million tabs open on one window? I know I do, but please, let me justify!
As a full-time freelance writer, I work on different projects on the daily. An idea may come that is not related to the project I am working on. Because I rely on my train of thoughts, I don’t want to lose the rhythm. At the same time, I don’t want that idea to keep nagging me as well. I open a new tab, write down the idea, and click search. I will not go back to it until I am done with whatever I am writing.
For example, if my idea is to repurpose a grey dress I have in my closet into a skirt, I just type “grey dress to skirt” in the search bar. When I get back to it later, Google would have listed a myriad of suggestions that I can build my idea on.
10. Have a kanban board
Ideas build on ideas. The best way to get the most out of it is to allow your ideas to flow and track where they go. If you’ve done project management, you’ll be familiar with kanban boards. It is a tool designed to help you pinpoint where work starts, progresses and ends. Place your idea on a kanban board and you’ll see how they can flourish and take flight. You can use an online board, one drawn on a sketchbook, or have a real board at home filled with sticky notes!
Every day, we generate thousands of thoughts. Within these thoughts are ideas that can move you forward. When it moves you, it moves your family, and it can sometimes spill to your community, country, and the world. If you don’t think you are creative, start jotting down any idea you have.
Once you start getting excited about being creative, it becomes easier and easier to generate ideas. Inspiration hardly comes when you are being stressed about having to be creative. If you identify as an innovative person, don’t let ideas go to waste. Go back to your bank of ideas weekly and organise them. Pick out stuff that can be done immediately, those that need tweaking, and others to keep-in-view because it sounds like nonsense at the moment.
Trust the process, darlings.
P/S: Feeling stuck in your creative journey? Here are a few hobbies you can try out to spark your creativity.