I joined a writing club my brother started, because he asked me to, and because I want to be a better writer. His group motivates me to actually write when I'd rather eat chocolate and watch crime shows. It's all about accountability with me, or I just go to the dogs, I'm telling you. I am getting more writing done now and that's great! What I want to tell you about here, though, is that what I learned from them in how to run my business was way more than I thought a group of high school students was going to teach me. I present, The Idea Notebook.
So at our first meeting with the writing club, I was the oldest one there so I thought I would probably be giving out advice or playing some kind of mentoring role. You'd think as long as I've worked with teenagers, I'd quit underestimating them like that. Because were they on fire!
We went around to the members of the group and we talked about what we were working on, what we had coming up, and gave each other advice on how to move forward. It is a lot like a mastermind group for professionals. (I'm in one of those, too, because like I said: Accountability.)
When my turn came up, I said that I was thinking of writing a children's book and I said “but I don't know what to write about. Do you have any ideas?”
Instead of rattling off a million ideas, which is what I expected, my brother replied, “You need an idea notebook!” then he pulled his idea notebook out of his backpack to show me what one looked like before continuing, “You are going to get ideas when you aren't somewhere you can write them, so keep an idea notebook with you. That way, when you have a great idea, you can write it down.”
It's the best advice I've ever been given. I have so many ideas, I'm often my own worst enemy. I constantly battle the “I should go do this right now!”
Today in her webinar, Christy Wright shared this story about how a guy at her church came in talking about his goals, sharing that he was going to read 30 books this year. That was a good goal, that was a reasonable goal, and it was exciting. Immediately Christy's reaction (Which was exactly what mine would have been) was to say “That's a great thing to do! I, too, should be reading 30 books this year.”
The thing is, neither Christy, nor I, should make that our goals for this year. Why? Because I already have goals I am working on and stopping to chase some new and exciting goal my neighbor is working on will derail my existing goals.
But what to do? Because it's still a great idea that I don't want to let go of forever–and if I don't do it now, I'll forget! Right? Wrong. Enter: the Idea Notebook.
Whenever you hear of a goal you want to achieve, but aren't ready to do right now because you're swamped and need to stay focused, you can jot it down in your idea notebook. Here's mine (isn't it pretty? I love the shiny things.)
You don't have to use a paper notebook like mine, though, you could use a word document, or I've even seen people create folders in Evernote, or on the Notes app in their phone. Whatever works for you. I'm an artist at heart and I have more than a few colorful squiggles that I like to put alongside my ideas, so paper was best for me. use what works for you.
Use anything you will actually use.As we've outlined above with my writing club entries, the idea notebook is great for all kinds of ideas, but I want you to consider using it for your goal setting.
Now I know what you're thinking: But if I write it in that notebook, I'll either lose the notebook or I”ll never come back to that again.
I can't help you with your ability to keep up with things, you're on your own. I'm just as horrible (probably worse) at keeping track of things as the next guy, which is why I keep my Idea Notebook in my purse. So far, I've managed to keep up with my purse, so that's where I keep the idea notebook. You'll have to do what works for you.
As far as how to use an idea notebook, I get where you are coming from. I don't want to forget to use my ideas, either.
Which is why I schedule a review time.
Quarterly, I set aside a day (My next one is coming up over the July 4 weekend) where I look back at the last quarter and plan for the next one.
I will start by looking at my Quarterly Goals sheet and see what I was able to get done, and what I did not. Hopefully, if I executed the plan well, I will have completed, or strategically removed, every goal on the list. We'll talk about goal setting in another post, but for now I want to tell you how the idea notebook comes into play at this point.
Now that I've assessed where I am at overall, it's time to set the goals for the future. That's when I get out my idea notebook. I look at all of the thoughts, plans, goals, cool things to go see, neat things to do, achievements I'd like to achieve, etc, and I ask myself key questions to evaluate what of the ideas I want to do, and which are best to skip—at least for now.
If the ideas come out of this vetting process ok, then I add up to 3 of the ideas from my idea notebook to my goals for the coming quarter. If they do not pass the question test, then I either strike them from my idea notebook as things I don't want to care about anymore, or I leave them there on the page in the idea notebook to review again later when they might make more sense to do, or fit better into the bigger plan for my life.
In this way, I am able to stay on target, focus during “Work time” but still allow “evaluate time” to assess my progress and consider new ideas. It has saved me a ton of time moving beyond that endless “What if it isn't the best thing for me? What if I should be doing something else?”
Doubt seems to creep up into everything I do and paralyze progress.
Now, instead, I banish those doubts by saying “I'm going to stick to the plan I've outlined and once we get to the quarterly review, we will consider what changes need to be made.” It is like I have given my doubts a place to go.
It's helped tremendously. I hope you try it!
I am sending a free download of my Good Ideas Packet to all of my subscribers NEXT TUESDAY! (June 14) that includes the quarterly goals sheet, the a printable of the evaluate questions to ask yourself, and a schedule sheet to plan out when you will look back at your goals.
If you want to get the free download just sign up for my email subscribers list and I'll send it out to you! 🙂
Let me know how it is going! How are you using the Idea Notebook in your hobbies, business, or personal life?
Live Intentionally! and as always,
Have Fun Learning,