The 5 Elements of an Idea Capture System That Works - THINKERS Notebook

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The 5 Elements of an Idea Capture System That Works

Let me ask you a question.

Do you remember that amazing idea you had that one day?

You know -- the one you didn't write down or record because you promised yourself you'd remember it ... but then you forgot it? 

No, of course you don't remember it. That's the eternally frustrating point.

And no matter who you are or what you do, I know that you've experienced this at least once in your life. Probably more. 

Sure, you can offer up the excuse that if the idea was really all that great then you'd have remembered it.

To which I say: poppycock.

An idea arrives at a moment in time, and usually only partially formed. So there is no telling what direction its development may move in if it is recorded, revisited, and even reheated later with other half-baked ideas that join together into something coherent and meaningful.

The bottom line is that there is no downside to having a system you trust for recording your ideas.

And the upside of having such a system for idea capture and retrieval is potentially monumental.

The 5 elements of a good idea capture system

What makes for a good idea capture system? These five elements:

  1. It needs to be omnipresent.
  2. It needs to be efficient.
  3. It needs to be organized.
  4. It needs to be secure.
  5. And most importantly: it needs to respect that we do our best thinking, and thus our best idea creation and development, away from technology.

This is why many smart thinkers are turning to technology solutions like phone apps (which are omnipresent in our pockets) to record their ideas.

But how efficient, organized, and secure is the app? And is it designed with a digital-first or a physical-first mentality?

These are the questions a discerning thinker should be asking.

Why is this top of mind for me right now? Because these are the questions we've been asking ourselves over and over the last few months while we've been developing the next generation of the THINKERS App -- the companion app for our THINKERS Notebook.

We recognize that while thinkers like you and me do our best thinking with pen and paper, the fact is that the lightning flash of an idea can strike at any time. 

So we set out to create the most efficient system available for capturing not just handwritten ideas but also audio ideas, video ideas, image ideas, whiteboards, text ideas, and even document scans.

Because the best idea capture system will allow you to capture an idea quickly and easily in whatever form the moment demands.

But then what happens after it's captured? Is it easy to find later? And is your data safe from being corrupted and stolen?

These questions can't be afterthoughts for any system you're going to entrust with your ideas -- one of the most valuable currencies you have.

Anyway, you'll hear more about the next-generation THINKERS App in a few weeks when we officially launch the iOS version.

Right now it's in beta, with a small group of folks putting it through its paces. And so far the feedback has been very good, with a few bugs spotted that we can now fix before launch.

We certainly think you should consider making the THINKERS App part of your idea capture and organized process, since it includes all five of the elements listed above. 

But technology isn't the only way to remember an idea. There are strategies for improving your own mental storage capacity that can be helpful as well. 

So included in this week's THINKERS Roundup are three additional resources to help you become better at remembering your best ideas without any physical or digital aids at all. 

Combine these strategies with a pen, paper, and a great app for idea capture, and you'll never lose another million-dollar idea again.

Now on to this week's links ...

Memory is not innate; it's a skill that can be developed


An important skill to learn that can improve memory is association. This means linking what you want to remember with something else – often something visual.

This is why Mind Mapping is such an effective memory-boosting tool. It encourages our brains to make associations between ideas when we’re generating them in a Mind Map. These associations will then instantly become more memorable because we’ve already made the links and put them into a visual format.

Read: How to improve memory with Mind Maps (Ayoa)

The ancient strategy for remembering nearly anything


A Memory Palace is an imaginary location in your mind where you can store mental images to remember facts, strings of numbers, shopping lists or all kinds of things. It's hugely popular among memory champions. 

The memory palace is a technique to remember facts, numbers or other things, like a shopping list. It has been around since ancient times and is also known as the Method of Loci. Memory Champion Marwin Wallonius used it to remember, in just 30 minutes, the correct order of 5040 binary digits or a complete deck of 52 cards in just 33 seconds. Here is how it works.

Watch: The Memory Palace : Can You Do It? (Sprouts)

Train yourself to be better at remembering what matters


A lot of memory is about paying attention. “It sounds obvious, but we live in a day when our attention span is very fickle, because there’s so much coming at us all the time,” says Dellis. “Force yourself to be laser-focused on one thing at a time.”

For example, when Dellis meets people and wants to learn their names, the first thing he does before asking their name is to mentally ask himself, “What is this person’s name?” over and over.

“This process, as insignificant as it seems, does wonders,” he says. “You’re not thinking about what to say or noticing something across the room. You’re paying attention to the person in front of you, getting ready to accept their name.”

Read: Use These Five Tricks to Never Forget Something Important Again (Fast Company)

Quote of the week

To observe attentively is to remember distinctly."

-- Edgar Allen Poe