Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Idea Bank

If you are like me, there are plenty of times when you see or hear about some of the new web applications, you go “That’s exactly what I thought of! Now why didn’t I follow it up?”. But someone else has actually through it through and then followed it through and executed the idea and made it a reality. While you, just kept that idea at the back of your head.

The difference between success and failure is in the execution. But in order to execute, you need to record and develop your idea. For this, you need to have an idea bank.

This notion of an idea bank is promoted in many productivity, self improvement systems as well. In GTD, these are someday/maybe projects. You record your ideas or projects that are lingering in your head. If you cannot put in a time line to it, you record it anyways and get it off your head.

I have recorded my ideas in so many different places that it is impossible for me to figure out where they are recorded at times. Worst thing that you can do is to record them in planners as when the year ends, the planner goes into storage and so does all your ideas in it. For this reason I have started to use a little black note book, to record my ideas. I was contemplating the options between high tech and low tech for this purpose. I have a few ideas stored in my phone as notes as well.

But I like the notebook for several reasons. I can generally write faster than I can type. Now with my adoption of iPhone, my typing speeds have diminished even further. And I tend to think more about words and spellings when I type whereas when I write these flow without thinking. Hence writing gives me the ability to concentrate in the idea itself rather than on what I am writing.

I am very fond of fountain pens. My love with fountain pens makes me want to write more. If I was typing I would keep the sentences short and type out a fewer sentences. But when I write, I would be more descriptive. Being descriptive when you are recording an idea is pretty good as otherwise there are times I have just written down a short sentence and some time later I cannot recall exactly what the idea was!

I also love good quality stationary. This is also a part of why I chose to write down the ideas as opposed to storing them electronically. Also the free flow of ideas, ability to draw diagrams or pictures to support it, is much easier with pen and paper.

But writing them down isn't entirely without its nuances. If you need to amend and expand and idea later on, it isn’t as easy as if you had recorded it electronically. Also I may not always carry my little black book with me whereas I will carry my phone. And these days, applications like Evernote, with it’s automatic syncing of notes makes it pretty easy to record an idea through one device and pick it up from another device. I did start using Evernote and I actually quite like the application. I think an app like Evernote will be a pretty good choice on a Windows Mobile device with the ability to draw things on notes in Windows Mobile. But this feature is not there (or I have not come across it if it is there) on the iPhone application and hence it is limited to what would be typed.

The other advantage of high tech in this regard is it will be easier to share your idea with anyone else. Specially with apps like Google Docs, it is a breeze to collaborate and develop an idea using a shared document. And there are plenty more applications for mind mapping and allows sharing mind maps too.

While I am still exploring all these high tech options, for the time being I am going to stick to my black leather book and fountain pens to collect my ideas. I would love to hear your views on these as well. Also, any pointers to great, free, web based mind mapping solutions are welcome.