Capturing Your Ideas


At any given moment, ideas will come to you. Some of these ideas are major, some are minor, but when you don’t capture the ideas, they whirl around in your head, diverting your attention away from the other work or pleasure on which you need to be focusing. The following are possible bins, buckets, boxes, and baskets (and how to use them) so that you capture your ideas for later processing.

  1. Your physical inbox. Write down the idea and drop it into your inbox. I use a Longaberger basket as my “inbox” so that it looks nice on my desk.
  2. Your planner. Write down the idea in a designated spot in your analog planner. Decide where you’ll know to look for ideas you’ve captured. If you never go back and retrieve them, well…then you don’t have a system that is working yet.
  3. Your voice mail. Call yourself and leave a message. This is especially convenient for things you need to bring to work the next day if you leave a message on your home voice mail (or on your cell and you always check it at night).
  4. Have a friend, colleague, or family member who is standing nearby send you a text message with the idea in it.
  5. Voice recorder/digital recorder. It seems like all mobile phones have that capability at this point.
  6. Send yourself email. If an idea pops into your head when you are working at the computer, just send an email to yourself with the idea. I do this all the time.
  7. Pieces of paper. These will later be dropped into your physical inbox for processing. When I used to travel all the time, I wrote so many ideas on pieces of paper and had a designated space in my suitcase for all of these and put them in my in-basket when I got home.
  8. A pad you love to write on. Keep it handy and delight in jotting down thoughts and ideas as they come to you.
  9. Post-it® notes. Later you will stick each post-it® to a piece of paper for processing through your physical in-box.
  10. Productivity assistant. If you have a person who is there for you, then tell them your idea and task that person with capturing your ideas and getting them into your system.

Please note: choose a *few* of these rather than *all* of these….and make sure that you systematically clear out the bins where you’ve captured your ideas. Some of the ideas you capture will turn out to be of very low value (or even no value). HOWEVER, you have to capture all the ideas so make sure you don’t let the excellent ones get away. And you also don’t want to have stray ideas whirling around in your head. Get them into your system for processing.




Meggin McIntosh, “The PhD of Productivity®”, invests time & energy with people who seek ways to be overjoyed instead of overwhelmed.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

5 Types of Phone Apps To Help Improve Your Lifestyle

Why am I starting my own project + two main focus areas of the project


The power of Creative Procrastination

The Surprising Link between Planning and Procrastination

Reverse Machine Learning: Unusual Productivity Hacks I Learned from the Computer

Shoot for the Stars, Reach the Sky

5 Things That Successful Wellness Practitioners Always Do

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Meggin McIntosh

Meggin McIntosh

Meggin McIntosh, “The PhD of Productivity®”, invests time & energy with people who seek ways to be overjoyed instead of overwhelmed.

More from Medium

5 steps to create an effective lone-working monitoring procedure

Tips on How To Write A Travel Blog Efficiently

Start a Bakery Business from Home as a Housewife

Project #3: Discover Your Identity Through Building Habits