Ever dreamt an amazing invention or a catchy song? You wake up with every intention of harnessing the idea — “OMG, it’s amazing” — but you can’t find a pen or a piece of paper. Or your dog jumps on the bed so you just blindly start your routine and take her out for a walk.
Yeah, me, too.
I’m a daydreamer, and a creative thinker so I enjoy generating ideas. But ideas are very delicate. They are easy to lose track of and hard to recover.
The solution I rely upon? Cultivating the habits that allow me to harness and remember the ideas I have fun dreaming up so I can put them to use one day.
So I keep a journal. Several, actually. One for art and music project ideas, another for technology ideas, one for personal musings, and yet another the rants(!!). I used to laugh at my sister for writing everything down but now I realize her genius.
Capturing that amazing invention is as simple as reaching for my ever present smartphone and firing up one of my journal notes in Evernote. Or cracking open my notebook and jotting it down in pen and ink when I am feeling old-fashioned. And I know I have place for these ideas because I have cultivated the habit of writing down my thoughts.
My many habits
I do it in other ways as well. I have the habit of keeping my music room clean, and set up for recording so I can document song ideas by grabbing the computer, hitting record, and sitting down behind the drums. I learned this after spending a time or two trying to write a song and ending up cleaning up the space instead.
I started these habits to help me keep track of the art and music ideas that I was firing off, but I quickly realized that I have been putting the same ideas to work at my day job as well. I have a habit of creating project documentation like design and architecture documents with the same outline. I have the habit of creating training presentations by developing an outline, filling in the content then building the slideware. When I was coding, I had the habit of structuring my sites and CMSes with the same folder structure and architecture on the the front and back end.
Habits are so…routine
I realize I must sound like a bit of bore by now. Habits are kinda dull, right? I mean, they are by definition, ROUTINE. This is all true. But these habits help me get to the good stuff. I understand why Stephen Covey became famous for telling us how to create simple habits. I have implemented many content management systems and written a ton of code. The fun is solving the business problem at hand, learning how to use that API you have never seen before or figuring out how to optimize the user experience. It is not in figuring out what the directory structure is going to be. It is not in setting up the drums, it is in writing that hypnotic beat.
I have built all these habits and process because I realized they help me harness my best thoughts and get to the fun of taking an idea from imagination to reality. I am addicted to these structures. I think they help me get the best out of my ideas.
How do you do your best work?