In this day of increased productivity everyone is looking for new ways to cut distractions. A new way to do something can suddenly come to mind, and it’s critical to record your idea as soon as possible. If you don’t capture ideas soon, then they will just disappear. Here are several tools you can use to capture ideas either while at home, at work, or when out and about.
1. Trello is an online board that consisting of cards. You can create an idea capture template within a new card with each containing single or many notes. It also has a checklist and color coding system for organizing ideas into categories.
2. Tearing pages from a magazine and saving them into a folder is sometimes referred to as a ‘swipe file.’ The concept is that with these paged ripped out and isolated or combined with other pages can lead to new ideas. Having them sit in a drawer with some added handwritten notes allows the mind to ponder how to use or reject the idea.
3. Evernote is a popular idea capture software for saving information to the cloud. The information syncs across devices so that something saved to a mobile phone can be retrieved from a desktop. Not only can it save text, but also images found on the Internet or pictures from a smartphone camera.
4. Microsoft OneNote is like Evernote in that text and images save to the cloud and synced to other devices. Many features in Evernote are also available in Microsoft OneNote.
5. Recording ideas to a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets is convenient to organize information. Google Sheets is handy because everything saves onto Google’s cloud service. There is also an online version of Microsoft Excel within the Office 365 package. This service allows saving and syncing spreadsheets to Microsoft OneDrive.
6. Some people prefer opening a word processor and typing out their idea onto a blank sheet of paper. The most popular idea capture tools in this category are Wordpad, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Open Office. Office365 also includes a version of Microsoft Word too.
7. Microsoft Outlook, used for accessing email and a calendar also features a ‘Tasks’ function. Notes saved to Tasks can also have a due date assigned. The user will see a reminder that they need to address that item before a predetermined deadline.
8. Post-It notes have been used in an office environment for several years, and one would be hard-pressed not to find these at their work. These small sheet of paper with a light amount of sticky residue on the back are handy for writing short notes. Stick them onto a flat surface or the edge of a computer screen to review later.
9. Google Calendar (along with the calendar in Microsoft Outlook) are like a task function. Enter text into a due date and set reminders to appear on the screen in the days or hours leading up to the date.
10. Another non-digital idea capture system for saving notes involves a pen along with a small pocket-sized notebook. No batteries required, just enough lighting for writing. Some prefer recording notes in the dark. The scribbles become open to interpretation upon review later which can lead to something else.
11. Almost everyone has access to email whether it be while in front of a computer or carrying a cell phone. Sending an email to oneself can help with remembering spontaneous ideas.11. Sending an email to oneself can help with remembering spontaneous #ideasClick To Tweet
12. Similar to emailing oneself is using an IFTTT (If This Then That) DO button, an idea capture app for phones. Enter text, click a submit button, and send the message to an email address or another IFTTT service. There are IFTTT plugins for many programs, include Google Sheets and Evernote.
13. Many bloggers host content on a WordPress systems. Creating a draft blog post for review later is another place to record ideas. These drafts can be just a concept while other times they may result in a full blog article for public viewing.
14. Pinterest might be just a social media system to some people. Besides public boards, there are also secret boards to pin messages. For example, let’s say you came across an inspirational image while browsing the Internet. You can “pin” that image with a modified text description to a secret board for review later.
15. It’s not unusual to see business people walking around talking to themselves. In these cases, they are either using a Bluetooth headset or dictating an audio file recording. Later, they will listen to (and transcribe) to capture ideas all together into one place.
16. CoSchedule is a scheduling system for planning social media and blog articles. Like WordPress draft articles and ideas can be saved, edited, deleted, or even published for public view.
17. Mindmapping consists of writing a topic in the middle and branching outward to subtopics. Each subtopic also has branches containing more details. Thus, with mind mapping, an initial idea can be further developed by just expanding outward from the middle.
18. Dropbox is a cloud-based service for synchronizing files between devices such as a computer, phone, or a tablet. It can also be accessed with an Internet web browser. Dropbox itself doesn’t have any specific notetaking capabilities. Any document format can be saved to DropBox via one device and then amended from another.
19. One of the oldest forms of recording a spontaneous idea is by writing it down on a paper napkin. The nondurable surface is best used with a marker that doesn’t bleed and words written with a large font. (perhaps you know a way to make it more durable?)
20. Index cards are used in schools during drill sessions to test recollective memory. They are also durable for recording brief notes with any writing utensil. Index cards fit into a pocket or purse and due to their durability aren’t likely to get damaged.
21. Voice-activated systems are becoming more popular. Starting with the maturing of Apple Siri. Microsoft Cortana, Google Now (later renamed to Google Assistant) and Amazon Echo. These services all use voice recognition technology to transcribe speech into text. Due to robust cloud computing technology this software innovation does not need training.
22. Calling one’s own voice mail and recording a note is also an easy way to save ideas on the go. Not all cell phone services allow one to call their voice mail, thus requiring a third party voice mail service. When using a third-party service the voicemail is forwarded to email as an attachment.
23. Another popular text-to-speech system is Dragon Naturally Speaking. After opening the software, a simple text editor appears where the audible text is transcribed from the user. The accuracy of the software depends on the user training it with their voice by reading passages of text. Over time, it learns the nuances of the person’s voice which further improves accuracy.
24. Almost every office has a meeting room with a whiteboard and markers nearby. A typical brainstorming session ideas involve writing ideas onto the washable surface. Later, someone transcribes the text to an email sent to all participants. An alternative way to capture ideas is to take a picture of the whiteboard and then sharing it with others.[bctt tweet=”24. Taking a picture of the #brainstorming whiteboard and share it with others” username=”ideas2apply”]
25. Many ideas come to mind while performing mundane tasks such as taking a shower. Waterproof whiteboards and waterproof paper are both available for use in these environments. In a pinch, use a bar of soap or lipstick to write large text onto the mirror. Later, the saved ideas can be recorded on paper before heading out the door.
26. Sometimes an idea needs more details by researching the market to determine hot topics. One such tool that can curate this is Google Alerts. Discover new ideas by setting up an alert when specific text appears on the Internet. Google Alerts will send an email to the user with a link to the source. It’s particularly useful when you want to curate details about newsworthy topics such as changes in idea confidentiality laws.
27. Another curation tool for hot subtopics is IFTTT. Besides a “DO Note,” an applet can also search services such as Redditt or Twitter for text. When the text appears in a new post or tweet, it’s sent to another IFTTT service. Daily Digests are also available via email for when sending individual messages become inefficient. Be sure to use one of the other tools above to record your ideas based on these inspirational messages.
BONUS TIP: Write a note to yourself in public by clicking one of the share buttons below. It has the double benefit of reminding you and also bouncing ideas off others within your social circle.