As an entrepreneur, we are addicted to our ideas. In fact, most of us feed off of them and relish in the thought of creating something new for our business. We love that as entrepreneurs we have the ability to create something new at any time, and it all starts with our brilliant business minds!
But nothing makes us more upset than getting a brilliant idea, and then losing it. We are all great with coming up with good ideas, but not as good remembering them. In fact, psychologists say we can hold 5 to 9 different thoughts in our immediate memory at any time. That leaves alot of room for loose ends and lost ideas.
The best ideas never happen at opportune times, in fact, most great ideas are situational. Think about the times you came up with something that was out of this world. Most likely, you were away from your desk, walking your dog, or maybe even singing in the shower! This creates a unique and interesting problem when you are trying to capture all of your ideas.
In order to capture every single idea we have, we have to have some type of system in place to grab those little bits of genus each day. Here are three steps to take to create an idea capture list that you will return to take action and implement.
The first step is to capture everything important that comes to mind, when it crosses your mind. Even if you are not sure if an idea is gold, still capture it, because you never know where it could lead. The most ideal situation is to have one single point of capture that you can keep with you at all times and rely on.
Many people like to use a high quality notebook for this, with a rigid cover and high quality paper.
Moleskin journals are a popular choice that are not only visually appealing but practical. The advantage of these types of notebooks, rather than a less expensive one is the pages are more sturdy and can handle wear and tear, the pages don't easily rip out, ink won't easily bleed through the pages, and you can write on them in your hand or lap, which is great for the times you are not at a table or desk. They also look more professional than a drug store version notebook and many of them have bookmarks built into them so you can keep your place.
Digital solutions are another option that many entrepreneurs like, mainly for the convenience factor. We carry our cell phones with us at all times, so what better tool to use to capture all of your ideas! Because we use 17hats everyday to stay organized with our client communications and to do lists, it makes perfect sense to utilize their mobile app for our capture list. With the app, you are able to capture your ideas by adding it to your to do list, which will sync to your main 17hats account.
Now What Do I Do With This Idea List?
As you are capturing your ideas, what do you do with them? It is important to treat your capture list like an inbox. So with any inbox, you have to go through a process of sorting, filing, and even deleting certain ideas. Some ideas may be good for immediate action and others to put to the side and review at a later time.
As entrepreneurs we have SO many ideas, and it is a good idea to â€œspring cleanâ€ ideas that might have been brilliant in the moment, but after much thought are actually a distraction, or just don't make sense for your momentum and business growth.
It is important to review your capture list on a regular basis. These great business ideas that you have will do no good sitting in your notebook or on a digital list. Remember that the space you use for capture is not long term reference storage. You still need to have a trustworthy system to help you implement and take action. This system can be simple, by prioritizing those ideas most important and transferring them to a separate "To Do This Week List" or you can utilize an informational manager/project management system.
Above All, Trust the System
It is important that you get into the habit of capturing your ideas as soon as they come. If you can't trust yourself and that you can do this, you will miss out on so many opportunities. It is so tough to just rely on your memory; we simply have so much going on all at once and if we leave it to ourselves, we are bound to sabotage ourselves. Get used to your system, use it on a daily basis, and then take small action steps each day to implement your amazing ideas into reality!
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About the Authors:
Paul & Melissa Pruitt are the founders of Photographer Entrepreneurs Association, an online community that provides education, business coaching, and personal development to photographer entrepreneurs. Together they provide support and mentoring and speak nationally on small business solutions. Paul is an expert business and marketing coach with national speaking experience and a published writer with Entrepreneur.com. Melissa is a two time published author (including the Amazon best selling book PROFITographers co-written with Paul), TEDx speaker, and contributor for the Huffington Post. They have a love for travel and helping others grow personally and professionally.