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17 July 2009

Organizing Thoughts and Ideas

Each day I’m bombarded with ideas, thoughts and perspectives. So many that I realized if I didn’t find a way to organize them, I’d forget them. By the time I scan the latest blogs and e-newsletters, talk with people, watch some TV, get through a chapter of the latest book on my list, skim Twitter/Facebook, and read a magazine I’ve gotten at least one or two thoughts or ideas worth remembering from the day.

I do two things to organize this constant collection of information:

1) I have an idea notebook. In it I quickly write anything worth remembering. It might be something someone says or a small nugget I read or heard somewhere. It’s usually not a complete thought, just a few words.

2) I have idea files. I started doing this a couple years ago after reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. I keep my hand written notes, printed articles, handouts, etc. in file folders labeled by topic. I have two systems on the go, one for work and one for personal. At the office I have an entire drawer dedicated to my idea folders. You’d see folders in there labeled everything from talent attraction to leadership to social media to the future of MLS. At home I’ve got files for travel, recipes, fashion, dogs, reading, and other things that interest me. These files often provide inspiration when working on various projects.

Here are some recent thoughts/ideas from the back of my idea notebook:

  • Idea generation (cool term).
  • Generation web (alternative term for Gen Y and Gen X).
  • The role of today’s agent is to be an advisor, consultant and negotiator. (Quote from Sherry Chris in a meeting).
  • Set up photo galleries on Flickr for the markets you serve and add this link to your property promotions.
  • Your core company values should be on your talent attraction websites.
  • Achieving general life balance.
  • Seth Godin: mediocrity- you have to stand out in order to attract people.
  • Team work makes the dream work. (Lisa Nichols)
  • There’s freedom in not knowing the rules. Knowing the rules will only restrain you. Don’t read the rule book. (I love this!)

I pride myself on having a good memory, but I know it has a limit!  So this is my system. I know this doesn’t seem very “Gen Web” of me and that technology certainly offers many other alternatives to organizing thoughts and ideas. But this works for me and I share this with you because I’m curious on how other people are retaining the hundreds of thoughts and ideas that they find intriguing each week to reflect upon or act upon at a later time.

3 thoughts on “Organizing Thoughts and Ideas

  1. I use evernote.com as my universal dumping ground. It’s a must have in my book (Syncs between computers, web, mobile phone)

    Mind mapping apps/web services may be another thing to look into (there are lots to choose from…free to fee ones)

  2. My laptop and iPhone are my companions. Without them, I could not organize things as well as I do. I have checklists, calendars, email access, web access, notes, my blogging tools. Everything I need for my business exists on my Macbook.

    -Tyler

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