One thing I really like about ideas is how they seem to come out of nowhere. Think about it, one second your mind is empty, and the very next second, it produces this great new idea that was not in your possession the second before. I’m amazed and marvel at the brain’s capacity to function like this.
I’m also amazed at the brain’s capacity to quickly forget a great idea. I’ve often had a great thought and said to myself, “I’ll remember that later and … (insert whatever task I’d do with the idea).” It makes sense at the time. The idea is so clear and vivid at that moment, it seems extremely unlikely that I’ll forget what it is. However, when “later” comes and I attempt to recall the idea, it’s gone. How can I cause something to happen with a new idea I can’t even remember? That’s so frustrating!
Earlier this week I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership podcast with guest David Allen, productivity expert and author of Getting Things Done. In the podcast he was talking about getting things out of your head an on paper or in a computer. Somewhere, anywhere other than keeping them in your head, because if you’re trying to remember something you’re using up brain capacity that could otherwise be used for thinking, or focusing on the task you’re currently engaged in.
He made a comment that really resonated with me: “Your head is for having ideas, not holding them.”
That makes so much sense to me, and has proven true when I’ve applied this principle in my own life. When I want to recall a fact, event, book I want to buy or read, or any other such piece of information, I’m far more likely to remember it if I get it out of my head and into some other medium like a notepad, application, calendar, or piece of software. Once I have it out of my head and somewhere else, where I can get to it again, my mind is freed up from thinking (or worrying) about it and can focus on other, more important things.
Hearing David Allen’s quote has caused me to be extra mindful about getting things out of my head in order to turn my mind loose on what it’s better suited for, such as thinking and generating ideas, rather than simply using it for lower level tasks that a sticky note or calendar can perform much better.
Pay attention this week to ideas, thoughts, or events you have that you need to get out of your head and captured somewhere else. When ideas occur, capture them immediately and develop a system so you can go back and spend some time with them later. I suspect you’ll be amazed at the treasure your mind regularly produces.