Most of us keep to-do lists. We have iPads and smart phones and keep track of what we’ve promised to other people. We track the things we need to get done. But what about the future? What about those great ideas that happen while waiting in line? We’ve all had that experience of coming to a instant understanding or suddenly seeing clearly what we need to do in a certain situation. We tell ourselves to remember the moment because it’s important and we promise ourselves we will capture it later.
But later never really comes. It gets replaced by a never ending cascade of right now. The car that cut you off in traffic, an urgent request or even just the need to relax for a moment, any number of other events will crowd the thought out of your memory. The moment of clarity you had is lost in life’s incessant rush.
If we capture those moments of clarity, if we collect them and study them, they can be our salvation. They can help us find a better job, figure out a tough problem, help us strengthen our relationships. Those moments of clarity, the ‘ah ha’ moments, epiphanies, whatever you call them, are all clues that can move us toward the places we ultimately want to go. They are the signposts for the things we want to do and be.
When those moments occur, we need to write them down…right now, as close to the moment as possible. The inspirations, the crazy ideas, even rants of frustration are all amazing insights into how you think. Here are some ideas for capturing these random treasures:
• Carry a small notebook or sketch pad with you.
• Electronic devices, like iPads and net books are idea for keeping notes because the keypads are big and easy to use. Plus, you get the added benefit of your musings can be easily used elsewhere.
• Tape or digital recorders are excellent because they are easiest and most immediate. They also capture the sound of your voice, your mood and your surroundings, which can also be important pieces of information.
• You can also use the video capabilities of most smart phones.
Regardless of the method you choose, the most important thing is that you capture your idea, impression or feeling as close in time to its occurrence as possible. The fresher your impression, the more truth you’ll capture.
Once you start collecting your notes, you’ll want to organize them. You’ll want to find meaning in them right away. Don’t. Let them accumulate. Review them periodically, maybe every one or two weeks. Look for patterns in the subjects and your treatment of them. Overtime, you will start to hear your own voice. As that occurs you will become more aware of your thoughts.
You’re really starting a dialogue with yourself. The act of writing something down, making your body confirm your thoughts through action is how you prime your subconscious. Your subconscious mind will chunk the together your ideas and start seeing designs in what may at first seem random. When this self dialogue becomes habit, you will be able to write down the questions you need answers to and wait for the answer to assemble itself in the notes you capture everyday.
Your book, or tape recorder or sketch pad is the vault of your personal intellectual property. Stuff it with every profound, outrageous, nutty idea that seizes you. Begin the conversation with yourself and watch what happens.