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In the last blog, we talked about how to cultivate inspiration and the activities that can help light our inspirational fires. But now that you’re actively immersing yourself in such activities, what happens next?

Once you create space for your creativity to flourish, inspiration can hit at any time and it’s often at a time or in a place where jotting it down can be hard, let alone immediately acting on it. And frankly, relying on your memory isn’t a good solution. If you’re anything like me (my memory more resembles a sieve than a vault), you need help.

So, how do you capture the inspired ideas that hit you in the shower, or out walking, or while driving, or while talking to someone while standing in line at the grocery store? How do you remember to revisit a great idea that is for a year, or five, from now?

You need to create an idea-capturing system!

Capture Inspired Ideas

When I first started my business, I met a woman whose business was helping entrepreneurs and small businesses set up needed systems. My first question to her was, “What the heck is a system?”

She quickly filled me in and now, of course, I’m a total convert! And I think us creative types especially need help in this deparment. Without good systems in place, too much falls through the cracks, including our good ideas. And the bottom line is, if you’re a business owner, you must think and act creatively all the time to build, grow, and maintain your business.

I learned that there’s no right or wrong way to create a system for capturing ideas except to find one that works for YOU.

System Ideas to Get You Started

I’ll be honest and say I’ve tried a variety of things, some with more success than others. The biggest success factor — for me — is that idea-capturing systems must be EASY and I must be able to access and use it from just about anywhere.

Evernote: My Current Idea Capturing System

My current system and now 2nd favorite (I am transitioning to using Asana which I’ll tell you about below), is Evernote (or you can use OneNote or a similar app … I don’t know the iPhone equivalent!) I like it because I have it loaded on both my phone and laptop. I can type an idea into my idea folder and files, or I can create a voice message (handy for when I’m doing something like hiking and am not carrying a notebook, or it’s too much to type into my phone, etc.) But I don’t lose the idea, no matter what I’m doing.

The big benefit of this system is that I can access it out and about on my phone and at my desk. All my ideas are in one place vs on a variety of sticky notes, or me jotting an idea down in my client meeting notebook and forgetting it’s even there! There’s TONS of organizational options in Evernote (as there are in OneNote, too), so I use it for a lot of things. It’s served me well … and the cost is perfect for small budgets or those just getting started.

Asana: My New Idea Capturing System

I’m transitioning to Asana because a LOT of things I come up with need to also then become “projects,” whether in the immediate future or two years from now. They will have multiple tasks that need doing, with deadlines, in order to move from idea to tangible action, tactic, or offering.

As I mentioned in my Dec post, What Was Your BIG Lesson/Win This Year?, I had help figuring out that Asana could really help with more than just tracking the elements of my client projects; it can also help with Message Artist’s internal marketing, admin, and scheduling tasks.

I love the efficiency of taking a tool I’m already using — and paying for — and finding additional ways to make it work harder for me!

Other Ideas: Analog & Digital

As I said, there’s no right or wrong way here. A system’s only job is to work for you and be something you can go back to and easily find what you’re looking for. Here are a few systems I’ve used in the past, and still use in some fashion:

  • A binder or desktop filing system in which you can easily organize by category. Create sections that make sense to you: brainstorming, decorating, marketing ideas, service/product ideas, inspiring poetry/books, etc, etc. This way, it’s easier for you to revisit when you need ideas and are coming up blank. (I actually use this analog system for a lot of my personal/household ideas that may be years in the making.)
  • A small notebook you carry with you everywhere and then commit to putting those ideas into a digital solution or a more comprehensive/organized analog solution. If you choose this route, make sure you buy a good notebook, one that won’t have pages easily torn out or a binding that’ll fall apart.
  • A project management app, like Trello, that offers a free option. One of the things I liked about Trello was it was great if you are a visual person. I did a trial run of it as a project management solution and there was a lot I liked about it, but discovered that how I work required something a little different; Asana suited *me* best right now. But for idea capturing it worked great! (I applied a bit of GTD to how I organized it, too.)

Need More? Just Google.

However, let’s not forget that I am NOT a systems, efficiency, or organizing expert! I’m only saying, that no matter what you choose to use, you need to choose something. If nothing I’ve suggested here immediately catches your fancy, simply Google “idea capture” and you’re going to stumble onto a lot of blog posts about this very topic. Everyone is different and what works great for me might be your nightmare solution.

The bottom line is you’re a creative, smart, BUSY individual — capture inspired ideas, don’t let them get left behind and forgotten!

Do you have a favorite system that works? Or ways you’ve used systems similar to what I’ve mentioned? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers,
Deb