How to Never Forget Another Idea Again and Automating the GTD system for Idea Capture

Is there anything worse than knowing that you forgot an awesome idea?

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As an entrepreneur and business owner we all get overwhelmed by tremendous number of ideas and thoughts we have all day, every day.

These ideas come especially fast and furious as a content creator as these idea are our lifeblood!  They are what all of our content starts from – just a simple idea.

Some are more fleshed out than others true, but it’s these fledgling ideas that are so precious, and why it’s so painful when you know that you had an awesome idea this morning – but now its gone…  It’s that sinking feeling of a missing something… Which is why there is nothing worse than having one of these brilliant ideas, your true strokes of genius hit you when can’t sit down and properly capture it! And, we need to capture the idea in a way that we can really utilize it when it is time to start produce the next blog post, outline a podcast, or record that next YouTube video.

 

GTD to keep up with your ideas

I love the GTD system (Getting Things Done by David Allen) and in many ways, for many people it has been absolutely life changing.  You may have heard of it and be using it or even parts of it.  As a quick recap, the basic idea is to not TRY to remember everything – because first of all, you can’t!  And, If you have ever woken up in the night and thought “I need to buy cat food!”  Or otherwise had your subconscious bring up a random thought at a time you cannot do anything actionable with it, then there is a good chance you too have way too much on your mind!

David Allen also talks about how we all have a limited amount of a mental horsepower of sorts.  He talks about how our mind is a bit like the memory, or RAM in a computer.  Eventually to fit more things in other things, thoughts, to do items or whatever will be removed.

If you are trying to remember to buy cat food plus a 1000 other things, you can guarantee that you are going to start forgetting things!  Hopefully you don’t forget something important like “ remember to pay the water bill” when you subconsciously replace it with something (slightly) less important like “remember to buy a new toothbrush”.

The solution to this is, as David Allen says, to “get everything out of your head”.  And as an added benefit, when we have both a computer and a mind which is free of junk clogging up the RAM, things run so much better!  I can personally attest to this!  I can think so much clearer and I’m so much more creative when I’m organized and my thoughts are in order!

To “get everything out of our head” we need to have a “trusted system” to record all of these tasks into.  And, it needs to be in an easy way that we really do trust.  Writing tiny notes on the back of a receipt that will probably end up as pulp in the washing machine is not a reliable or trusted system because, at least for me I know that I have to remember to do something with this wad of paper in my pocket before the washing machine eats it!  Even keeping a small notepad in your pocket is good, but once again we need to remember to transfer the notes into a better system at a later time.

Electronic tracking systems are better… most of the time

Many of us use have tried a number of various electronic crutches to try to remember everything (guilty).  Be it an app on your phone that is specialized to make lists or notes, or even just the notepad app.  Or maybe you use a document on your computer and type in ideas, but seldom are they really as convenient as we need them to be. And, as a side note many of the specialized Smartphone apps hold all the info only in the app itself, only on the local device.  Keeping so many of our vital idea only on our phone is akin to the old saying about having all your eggs in one basket.   Your day can easily be ruined by both, the basket of eggs and your phone if you drop them!  Don’t keep all your data (eggs) in one place, it won’t end well!

The Cloud

Using an app or a service such as Evernote however is an great way to track all sorts of your digital life.  In fact this is the one I use to keep everything from grocery lists to scanning in receipts and other physical bills.  And best part is that it’s all backed up in the cloud.   I’d still be upset if I destroyed my iPhone, but at least my precious thoughts and ideas that are the backbone of my online presence are all still safe!  Overall Evernote is great for the most part!

But still its not super easy… What about when its not convenient?

Ideas don’t often come to us at the most convenient of times.

Remember for GTD to work, we need to get these ideas out of our head, and into a trusted system.  And, we need it to be EASY to do so or we won’t do it and will just keep on trying to remember things we shouldn’t and using up that mental RAM.

Evernote is awesome once you get into it

To using an online, cloud connected system like Evernote of course requires that you use that program/app/site to to imput data, namely your ideas.  But sometime its not as easy as it needs to be. For example you have an idea (WOOT!) you jump up from the movie/put down the kid/run in from working on the lawn, Run into the office, turning on your computer, letting 438 things load at startup and waiting for the virus scanner to run forever, then starting up Evernote and typing up a note.  This is certainly not convenience.

Evernote mobile is better, but still not perfect

Evernote does however have a mobile app that makes things a bit easier.  So it goes like this, you have an idea! You unlock your phone, find the Evernote app, (hmm no not that folder… maybe this one?) Find the notebook you want to keep ideas in if you even have one, then try to type out the idea on your phone.  I don’t know about you, but this also isn’t the bastion of convenience we really need it to be to remove all barriers to our creative process. Be it random ideas or even brainstorming!  Point is that even the mobile tech may not be convenient either, especially if you are actually busy with something else.

What can we do to EASILY capture these ideas into our Trusted System?

dont forgetPicture yourself, if you will, walking across the parking lot carrying your lunch in one hand, your briefcase/purse/etc. in the other and listening to your favorite podcast in your earbuds.  Something is mentioned that sparks an idea!  And wow it’s a brilliant idea!  You know your listeners/readers/customers will love it, but you don’t have a notepad handy much less an easy way to stop here in the parking lot and write it down even if you did.  Luckily, you remember a wonderful article from ProlificSuccess.com!

You simply press and hold on the mic button on your earbuds (or the center button on your iPhone) to activate Siri and say:

“Siri, send a text to Evernote, podcast idea about how X and Y and how if I do Z I can make $1000 with one tweet!”

This oh so brilliant idea then is placed directly into Evernote, in a notebook called “brilliant ideas”, and its even appended to the end of a particular note!

You finally make it into the office/home/grocery store and inevitably the craziness begins. The brilliant idea slips from your mind as one crisis is piled on top of another all day…

But, later that night when you get home, you sit down at the laptop to outline the next blog post and “work on the Freedom Business”.  But, invariably you have no idea what to write about… “Seems like I had a good idea this morning…” But no need to worry, you know that Evernote is keeping track your digital life for you.  Besides, we make it a point to not keep ideas like this in our head!

Now as per your normal creative routine, you open the “brilliant ideas” notebook to see what gems (or craziness, let’s be honest) are waiting for you.

Here you see a wealth of your best ideas that came to you at random times throughout the day and you easily saved at a moment’s notice.  You take a moment and just look at all the ideas that you have been capturing – and all in one convenient place!

All the entries have a date, a time stamp, and are always available when you need them! And, because it’s in Evernote, it’s available wherever you need them too – be it smart phone app, desktop software, or anywhere via the web interface!  A wave of both relaxation and excitement both somehow wash over you at the same time and you dive into creating your next awesome content!

This is no pipe dream, this is real, this is now, this is Automation!

How the magic happens or How to never forget a great idea again.

Basically this idea uses of the IFTTT automation service (www.IFTTT.com) to bring together Siri (or your favorite voice-recognition android software), a specially setup contact on your smart phone, and Evernote.  I’ve outlined below exactly how you can set this up yourself, and if used properly, you will never forget another idea again!

Don’t worry about if you are not very technical, it’s very easy!  If you have any questions please let me know in the comments below!  And I will be releasing a video very soon with a full step by step on this as well.  Make sure you are subscribed to the mailing list below and I’ll let you know when its coming out, plus other great automation tips and training!

How to set up the automation system to automatically capture every idea directly into Evernote!

  1. If you don’t already have an Evernote account or an account at IFTTT you need to sign up at these two services first. Of course you also need a smart phone, for this example I will be using an iPhone.
  2. To make this as easy and painless as possible I’ve done all the hard work for you, simply go to the following link and follow the directions below:
  3. http://bit.ly/IdeaCapture
  4. If you haven’t used IFTTT before now you will need to “activate the channels”
  5. Simply click “activate” next to the SMS and Evernote channels, follow the on-screen prompts to enter your phone number that you will be texting from and log into Evernote
  6. Now that the channels are activated simply click the “use recipe” button
  7. To actually make this from a novelty to the powerful tool it is, we need to get a bit of information from IFTTT.  Now we need to look at the details of this recipe by clicking on it.  Once open you will see it says IF “SMS” then “Evernote” and just below it has a bit more detail that says something like, “Send (111)-111-1111 any SMS from 123-111-2345”. Make a note of this first number it shows you. This is the number that you need to use to contact IFTTT to make the magic happen.
  8. Now on your smart phone create a new contact with the name “Evernote” with the phone number you noted above, (111)-111-1111 in our example here.
  9. That’s it! Give it a try, and never forget another brilliant idea again!

If you set this up correctly, now you have an extremely powerful tool for capturing ideas whenever they hit you, be it when brainstorming or even just at random time.  And this is once again, a powerful tool for keeping your mind or your mental “RAM” as clutter free as possible in a super easy way!

And most of all remember that entrepreneurs are the backbone of the business world, and its our ideas that are our fuel.  Save your ideas, save your business, be productive, SAVE THE WORLD! (too dramatic?)

This is just one of the many amazing uses of the IFTTT service and other automations that I use every day. I encourage you to explore and experiment with this and the other tips I have written about, and please remember to subscribe to the mailing list below to be notified of all the latest awesome tips and systems that take you from overwhelmed to beyond successful to what I like to call Prolific Success!!

Christian

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4 Comments

  1. Hey, this is great Christian! I plan on putting this into action…and quit watching my washing machine turn my brilliant ideas into a meaningless clump of paper pulp.I can’t wait until your next tip.

    Reply
  2. Excellent article and thanks for the recepie! This is going to be a life changer for me. I constantly have the ideas, and I’m losing them as fast as they come. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • You are very welcome Jon! Its been so helpful for me too! Do you you many other recepies or other automations?

      Reply
      • Not yet. I need to learn more about it all and figure out how to implement more automation. I’m in great need of simplification and making my life and activities more streamlined. Any other tips or recommendations would be fantastic!

        Reply

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