Is your touch screen phone like a piece of thought fly paper?  That’s how I view mine.

Mobile technology has enabled a boom in “thought capture” tools.  Tech blogs are chock full of them.  There are so many great apps and programs that make it easier than ever.

In fact, there are so many tools (and so many bells and whistles framing those tools), it’s easy to get wrapped up in the tools themselves.  Big mistake.

For a thought capture process to be effective, you have to get over the awesomeness of the tools. Just let it go. A carpenter doesn’t sitting around ogling his hammer all day. Your thought capture technology should be viewed in the same utilitarian light.

Thought capture is the very first step of creating anything – whether it’s a novel, a blog post, a task, or simply reference material.

Thought occurs constantly, but if thought capture doesn’t occur, it’s likely that nothing from those ideas will ever happen.

Don’t assume you will be able to recall a great idea later on.  Your mind doesn’t work that way – at least mine doesn’t.  You also never know how long it will be before you can process that idea.  Life happens all the time.

Remember, the more you capture, the more you can create, which shapes your future and the future of others.

5 practically efficient tips for effective thought capture

  1. Do it. Sounds simple enough, but good thought capture means creating the habit.  I have a love/hate relationship with the Muse; I need her, but she usually visits at the most inopportune times – while showering, driving, etc.  Don’t let life’s little frictions tear holes in your thought capture net. I actually got out of the shower to write down the idea for this post. Sorry for that thought.

  2. Forget style. I like to make things look good.  It’s a blessing and a curse. Raw thoughts don’t need formatting.  They don’t need correct spelling, punctuation, or anything. They just need to be intact enough to be recognized later.  If you’re doing a good job of thought capture, it should look like the scribblings of a second-grader.

  3. Don’t organize. Thoughts don’t need to immediately go into folders, be tagged, be consolidated with similar thoughts, etc. Just get it down. Worry about organization later.

  4. Make a watershed. Like rain falling in a valley, let your random droplets of consciousness flow from chaos toward order. Funnel ideas to a central location where they can coalesce with others.  Ideally, you have an inbox for thoughts, and even more ideally, it’s not your email inbox.  I think it’s best to have a separate inbox that’s easily and regularly reviewed.

  5. Don't journal. To me, journaling is too essay-like.  It feels like it needs an intro and a story.  It also connotes commitment.  Forget about all that.  Just get ideas down. Tell the story later.

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    This is not art

    Thought capture isn’t just for writers, artists, and day dreamers.  It’s for everyone.  Whether you’re an accountant or a street dancer, you have ideas. Your thoughts are your best asset regardless of your niche on this planet.  Putting them down regularly allows them to gain momentum and find allies.

    In the next post, I’ll discuss the thought capture tools I use.