Why you need to start keeping an idea journal

Credit: Designerpics.com

Credit: Designerpics.com

I'm sure you have lots of ideas bouncing around in your head on a daily basis.

"Wouldn't it be great to do this!'

"Wouldn't it be awesome if we implemented that!"

"Doing this would really fix that design project..."

Unfortunately, the mostly remain just that: ideas. You either forget them or you don't act on them. I'm not going to discuss the latter issue today (I kindly direct you to our friends at Fizzle for that) so I'm going to briefly talk about the issue of not just remembering your ideas, but also acknowledging and registering them in a journal.


Flexing your idea muscles

I've already talked about the benefits and necessity of keeping a regular journal, but there are a few reasons that I write this particular post about the need for an idea journal. First of all, writing by hand has been shown to improve memory. Secondly, writing forces you to think more deeply about something which means that it helps to develop ideas from fleeting thoughts to legitimate propositions. Thirdly, and most importantly, you can never improve a skill without practicing it. Having ideas is one thing, but getting better and better quality ideas is something you simply need to practice. Keeping an idea journal and recognizing as many ideas as you can every day forces you to constantly flex your idea muscles.

And you do want an unbreakable idea muscle, right?

I actually keep two idea journals: one in the living room and one in my bedroom. This way I have no excuse for if I can’t be arsed to walk from one room to the other to get my journal. Hey, at least I’m not in denial of my deficiencies.


Get Started!

All you need to do is buy a small-ish notebook and keep it within arm's length wherever you are. If you're at home, keep it in the living room or your bedroom (or just buy two). Any and every interesting idea you get, you write down in the journal. If you're at work, keep it at your desk. If you're on the road, you can use a little "cheat": download and use the free app Evernote on your phone (or Day One if you're a die-hard Apple fan). Simply start a note called "idea journal" and whenever you get an idea, open up the app and write it down electronically. The good thing about these apps is that they synchronize across all your devices, so make sure to install them on your laptop/PC/tablet as well.

Nothing is too weird, too insignificant, too simple, or too off-topic. Whatever your idea is, just write it down in a way that you can understand it when you look back at it. Also, don't feel forced to write a dissertation on every idea; 1-3 sentences on the idea is just fine. Keep writing down ideas and take a look through your journal at least once a week to reflect on it. I promise you that if you stick to this practice over the long-run, it will have a profoundly transformative effect on your creativity.

Make sure to check out the links in this post for further reading about idea journals. Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment in the comments section below!

See you, Space Cowboy.