Some years ago, the National Science Foundation estimated that our brains produce between 12.000 and 50.000 thoughts per day. According to other studies, this number could be even increased to 70.000. In parallel, other studies determined that between 75% and 80% of our thoughts are negative. Assuming these as valid numbers, this means we have between 2000 and 10000 thoughts that are neutral or positive in a day.
From all these thoughts, I presume there must some of them that might be interesting: ideas that we'd like to pursue, new concepts we want to develop, new business proposals, ...
What do we do with them?
Let's say 1% of these thoughts are ideas and half of these ideas are interesting ones. What do we do with these ideas? Do we lose them? Wouldn't any of these ideas help us move forward?
As productivity consultant, I've been asking myself these questions for the last four years and came up with the concept that I call "The Aladdin's lamp".
To me, one of the features that my smartphone has is the one of capturing any thoughts that I have in a day and deem interesting. Thoughts, ideas that will empower me, bring me forward, that will help me to achieve new goals, ...
The key is to capture any idea that is important and once captured, classify it. Put it into the right box, so that later I can retrieve and use all the ideas related to the same topic. The Aladdin's lamp allows me to place my ideas in the right place, waiting for the right moment to pop up. Later, when I decide to tackle that issue, all the ideas are there, waiting for me to decide which one is best and take the best possible decision.
Certainly many of you have already a smartphone (Android or iPhone) that you can also use to this purpose.
As a matter of fact, there are many applications that allow you to capture your thoughts. Basically you need to look at one that allows you to:
- Record a voice message
- Capture any image
- Type any text as a note.
In my case, I decided to use Evernote (https://evernote.com/) because it has a widget for my Android that allows me to record voice, capture a picture or type any text with just one tap.
This is the method that I propose you to start using:
- Capture any thought/information/impression that you deem interesting at any given moment in time
- >Classify your thought in the proper category
- Review the list of tags once a week
- Use the thoughts when they are needed
The goal during this phase is to capture every time you have a thought, every time you see something you are interested in, every time somebody tells you something that you'd want to remember later, ... and you need to capture it with the least effort possible. To me, voice recording is the best choice, because I just need to tap the mic button and immediately I can start talking. Another choice is to take a picture if the information you need to capture is rather visual.
Ideally once a day or whenever you have some amount of captured thought already, then it's time to classify them. Imagine you have a drawer where you can store each of those thoughts. Once a day listen to each of these notes and classify them into the right drawer. In case of Evernote, each drawer can be represented by a different tag. Your goal here is to classify each thought into its corresponding tag.
I don't recommend you to do it every time you capture a thought, because then the capture process is probably longer than what you initially want and then you end up capturing less information.
The same way as when you're cleaning your house, you need to keep your system clean and in this case it represents reviewing all the existing drawers (or tags) and ensure that they still make sense. You might find that some tags are no longer interesting for you; probably you need to merge separate tags into one or split them. Whatever you need to do to feel comfortable keeping these thoughts, do it! The important part of all this is that you can trust your system and you know that any time you want to access any information, the system will be up-to-date.
If you start doing the first three steps consistently, you'll start increasing the number of thoughts you have in the system, you'll have them properly classified and you'll know that you can trust your system. Now it's time to use these thoughts to the best of your advantages. Imagine that you have a meeting in a couple of days and you've been gathering thoughts about it during the last weeks. Now you just need to access the correct tag and listen to each of the thoughts. You can use these thoughts to prepare the meeting, taking advantage from what you've been capturing all the previous days.
The quality of your decisions will drastically improve when you start taking decisions based on choosing which has been the best idea you had related to the decision you need to make.
Imagine how powerful you could get if you'd simply use this method, if you would be able to capture just a 1% of these daily thoughts. This 1% will definitely make a difference in your lives. You just need to download this application and start using it. You're just 10 minutes away from start capturing your thoughts and use them to your advantage.
Wouldn't that be interesting?
We can all do magic wonders and our mind can be pushed to limits that we cannot even imagine and the only thing that we need to fix is to put the thoughts that are misplaced in the right place. Once this is achieved, we get to a point where your options become exponential.
In the next article, I'll show you how to configure Evernote on your mobile to have the Aladdin's Lamp running.