Keep An Idea Bin
Like most people I have way too many ideas: things I want to learn, stuff I want to do or programming ideas & concepts to implement. One of my principles is that I always iterate on everything in my life - things are not perfect, but working on them little by little is progress.
Ideas are very much the same - and they’re fleeting. Many times I had ideas which I regretted never writing down, and I’m sure you’ve all had this too. So that’s what I did. For the last three years, I’ve written down and categorised every single useful idea I’ve had on Google Keep, i.e. the 'idea bin'.
By coming back to these thoughts daily, I can work on the good ones and chuck away (i.e. archive, never delete) the others.
A few rules for this system:
- When I think of something new, I write it down immediately
- I try not to think too much about the taxonomy of the thought - I’ll just write down some free-form text - everything can be cleaned up later anyway
- Neutral: I write down the good or bad ideas as both have value - this way, both good and bad thoughts can be studied
- Archive, never delete
- For a brand new thought, I’ll completely avoid researching it until I’m confident I’ve reached the bound of my own creativity - I’ve found that by Googling an idea, you lock yourself into the model of what you find - it's far easier to be mentally creative without seeing somebody else’s rendition
- Whenever I have some spare time such as walking home, I’ll make good use of otherwise ‘dead time’ and iterate, refine & categorise my notes
In many ways doing this has brought some semblance of order to my life. I tend to be quite disorderly in many ways, but doing this has at least given me back control over the chaos of my own thoughts, which ultimately, is progress.