Never Lose A Great Idea Again

Never Lose A Great Idea Again

Great ideas are more valuable than gold. So why is it that we never throw away chunks of gold, but we have no problem with letting a great idea slip out of our grasp?

We’ve all been there, driving in the car, listening to audio tapes or music, and suddenly had a great idea occur to us. “As soon as I get home I’ll make a note of that, I’m sure I’ll remember, this is too good to pass up”. The human memory fails us repeatadly. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to take preventative measures.

Tips To Capture Your Great Idea

  1. Digital voice recorder. I find this to be the most convenient way to capture ideas when on the road. If you hear something on your audio tape, you can back up the track, press record, and capture a great quote. If something inspires you to have a huge idea, recording it is much easier (and safer) than trying to write while driving. I use an Olympus recorder, similar to Olympus DS-2 Digital Voice Recorder.
  2. 3×5 note cards or notepad. Anything that you can fit into your pocket along with a pen makes a great idea capturing tool. I personally use a small leather journal that I received as a gift from things remembered, but anything will do as long as you use it.
  3. Use Something – Use Anything. Capturing the idea is more important than where you capture it. If it comes down to it, use a napkin, receipt, or even your arm! If you have a million dollar idea, do you care what you do in order to capture it?
  4. E-mail Yourself. I’ve often opened up gmail, or outlook, written up a quick note, and e-mailed myself. It captures the idea.

What To Do With These Great Ideas. Once you’ve captured these great ideas, you want to put them to use, or store them in a safe place for later.

  1. OneNote. My favorite program for recording notes. The tabs, folders, password protection, and search features make OneNote superior to writing on a cave wall as Firefox is to Explorer. It’s a no brainer! Transcribe your voice recordings and written work into the proper categories within OneNote. (see: list of features)
  2. Blog It. Many of my blogging ideas come when I’m away from the computer. As I experience life, I connect the dots between things I have read about and learned in the past. Things start to make sense and once they become practical, I begin to share.
  3. Journal It. Do you keep a journal of your greatest life ideas, accomplishments, and contributions? Consider it as a way to leave your legacy and pass your hard earned experience to future generations.

What Are Your Tips? Hit the comment box and let us know your favorite practices for capturing great ideas.

Posted by in Productivity, Updates | August 22, 2007 | Digg | | Stumble | Print | 21 comments

  • Priscilla Palmer

    You have been tagged for The Personal Development List. (See my site for details), I would love for you to participate.

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  • RobMalon

    This used to happen to me so I created a small application on my webserver that allows me to posts tasks and ideas to it….It sort of got out of hand feature wise so I’ll probably release a version of it to the public. But before this it was just 1 long running notepad document 😉

  • Lyman Reed

    Good stuff, Alex! I’d have lost quite a few of my ideas without the memo record function on my cell phone. And for organization Simpleology’s Dream Catcher, or a spreadsheet (I usually use Google’s document application) really work well for me.

  • Pam Goulah

    Thanks for the ideas…my thoughts fall out everywhere…now I’ll be able to capture more of them!


  • Wake Up Early!

    For daily use my favorite is my smartphone that replaces both note book and digital voice smartphone.

    I read a lot (on average 1 book a week) and I’ve noticed that those give me plenty of ideas for different areas of my life. Something to write at my blog, something to quote at presentation, something to share with friends, and, most important, some key ideas that I want to keep remembering and use. So I just read books at my computer with Word file open and quickly type down everything that is worth coming back to. Once in a while I re-read those Word files to refresh my memory. I also have them copied on my smartphone so whenever I’m stuck in a traffic jam or have few minutes to spare, I browser through them and open my mind to those ideas again…
    //Sleeping Dude

  • Helen

    Great suggestions.
    I always record my ideas on a voice recorder, but there are times when I forgot my ideas if I also forgot to check my recorder.

  • Pamela

    Wonderful ideas. I’ve lost a lot of great ideas in the past and I certainly don’t want it to happen to me again.
    Thanks for this useful reminder.

  • Glenn Tan

    maybe you can also key the idea in your phone too be it in your organizer or if not save it in your outbox..another way of saving a great idea!

  • Steve

    I use many of your suggestions. I have a smartphone, so I use the voice recorder option when driving. It seems I have my best ideas when I am on a long trip.

    I also keep a journal and have begun a list of blog topics as they occur to me. I need to get away from my office to leave the noise behind and think clearly. I usually will hole up in a nearby Starbucks and journal away.

    I really enjoy your content.

  • John W. McKenna


    You’ve been tagged for the “Does Most Leadership Suck Challenge”. Check the link for details.

    Take care…


  • Douglas Woods

    Some great tips here, thanks. The only tip I’d like to add is to draw an image or add an image from a file. Giving an idea an image and associating the two is sometimes a great way to recall that idea.

  • James – Visualized.Feel.Abundance

    Hey Alex,

    Great Tips! I always email myself if there is access to the internet. But somehow inspirational ideas always come at the most unexpected moment and I am often caught with nothing to use as a recording device (such as while jogging, swimming, in the bathroom, etc). Most of the other time, I just use my mobile hone 🙂


    PS: Stumbled You. Take care 🙂

  • Alex Shalman

    James, I’ve been getting a lot of ideas lately while driving. Also, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning with a brilliant idea. Seeing how I don’t trust my memory, my recording device has served me perfectly for these situations.

    You bring up some interesting situations where a regular method of recording would not work. You could always get a recorder that comes with a rope that goes around your neck. Make that a waterproof recorder, and I think I got you covered on all basis 😉

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  • Nahush Khubalkar

    I am in agreement with you and you can see this agreement of mine in the form of an article which I wrote here