One of the productivity habits I’ve had to train myself to consistently engage in over the last few years is to write down any idea I have that might prove useful. If I have a thought about a client project, I’ll jot it down somewhere. If I have an idea for a fiction story I’ll write down what I’m envisioning. My bullet journal has been useful for this, though occasionally I’ll have to collect up a bunch of random notes scattered on pieces of paper or in random apps and consolidate them into something more actionable. But you get the point: I try not to lose those ideas or think I’ll remember them later.
There’s an entire document in Evernote that’s devoted solely to ideas for future blog posts. That ranges from single one-off topics to outlines for entries in an ongoing feature series. Some of these ideas are time-sensitive, but not many. Anything I want to write that’s more timely usually comes as a result of my ongoing RSS and email reading, which provide jumping-off points for me to riff off and add a perspective to. These ideas tend to be more evergreen, topics that can be tackled and addressed at any point.
That makes them good to have for those times where there isn’t a lot of news going on and my inspiration in other areas is a bit lacking. If I see gaps in my editorial calendar that need to be filled, I can turn to this list and see what resonates at the moment. Sometimes one will jump out at me as being particularly interesting and I’ll decide to snag it and finally write about it.
For every one removed, it seems, three are added. I rarely lack for ideas, just the time to execute them. And ideas can come at any time and in any location. The availability of a solid hour to research and write on that idea is a more finite resource, one that requires certain circumstances to be in place.
While I’m sometimes frustrated by the ever-expanding list of ideas that I want to get to but can’t, it’s better that it’s there. They’re necessary for, as I mentioned, an otherwise fallow publishing schedule. More than that even, I’ve found that capturing ideas and thoughts will often lead to other inspiration. I may think “Oh that’s a good idea” and in the process of jotting a note I’ll think of two or three other things, either wholly different ideas or variations on the initial theme, and capture them as well.
How about you? Do you have a list of “one day I’ll get to these” ideas for writing and other projects?
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.