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Never Lose An Idea

Do you ever wonder how your life could be different if you remembered every idea you’ve ever had? I know it’s pretty dang-near impossible, but if you just stop and think for a second how your life could be different if you remembered everything, it’s pretty scary. Here’s just a few of my own thoughts I wished I’d never lost:

  • *Ideas for those really great posts
  • *What to get loved-ones for Christmas
  • *Ideas for that really great feature in a web app

Even more basic are things that I should have remembered but never did:

  • *My mother’s actual date of birth (It’s sad, isn’t it?)
  • *Bills that needed paying
  • *Calls I should have made to clients
  • *Eating spicy food before going to bed (I don’t think I need to elaborate too much on this one…)

With all of the things that we want and need to remember, it still amazes me that I didn’t always think to write them down! If I started making better lists a couple of years ago, I’d

  • *Be more wealthy (don’t get too impressed, it’s relative to what I have now)
  • *Have better credit
  • *Be loved more by my mother

To sum it up, if I started writing things down earlier I’d be more successful in life, just because I’d write things down. I’d never have late fees so I’d have more money, I’d have better ideas that lead to increased opportunities and success, and I’d have better relationships with my friends and family. That’s depressing.
Fortunately, not all has been lost. In the past few years I’ve been making better lists, and have become more aware of opportunities to write things down. I’ve made it a personal mission to try and never lose a thought or idea in the past few months, and it has helped me immensely. Here’s how I’ve done it.

1. Collection Buckets Everywhere

I made a hipster PDA, and have different notecards for every task or idea that pops into my head. I’ve learned to ignore that tiny voice up there that says, “Don’t worry, you can remember it.” Right, and how long have I had trouble remembering Mom’s birthday?

One of the problems you can instantly see with this method is how to effectively review and filter all of that information. Well, one benefit to constantly writing something down is that you become better at filtering through what should be noted and what shouldn’t. Just like any other finely-honed skill, it’s always true that (overused cliche in 3..2..1..)

Practice Makes Perfect.

2. Review As Soon As Possible

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It won’t take long for you to get used to the system of instantly writing thoughts down, and then reviewing it and storing it ASAP. That’s the secret. The sooner you can review it, the more likely it is you’ll remember all of those contexts associated with them and write those down too.

Context is the name of the game with ideas. If you can get back into the mindset of when you first had the idea, it’s just like you’re picking up wherever you’ve left off with your brainstorming.

3. Keep Ideas In ONE Place

This one tends to get overlooked most. If you’ve got a handful of ideas, and store them all in different places, you’re only asking for trouble. I can’t stress this enough: The more you trust your brain for remembering, the more it will let you down. The brain is great for lots of things like creative thinking and what-not, but it never passed Retention 101 in high school. You don’t want to have one of those “Now where did I put that?” times while searching for your world-changing cancer-curing idea.

4. Review Constantly

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Not that hard, really. Just take time each week, (preferably as a routine), to review, re-organize and re-evaluate your ideas and tasks. It will help you to prioritize your things that need to be done, as well as to keep your ideas alive and kickin’ in the ol’ noodle. The more you wrestle with them, the more you’ll refine them and improve on them.

The important thing to remember is when in doubt, write it down. If you don’t know whether you should, do it anyway and decide later if you need it or not.