Do ideas spill out your ears?

Quick reminder:  Roo Mag is giving away two copies of my book today.  Stop over and enter if you have time!  (  Moving on …

Sometimes I want to put a stopper on my brain.  I’ve got so many ideas about so many things.  And sadly, many days all those great ideas just slip right out my ears and into the air … never to be remembered again.

I amaze myself at what I can forget.

One day I had a fabulous idea for a Proverbs 31 devotion.  It was so brilliant I was sure I wouldn’t forget it.  And so, confident in my great idea’s power to hold firm, I went about my business that morning.  Later that day, something tickled at my mind.  Hadn’t I had a good idea for something? … hmmm … what was it? 

Try as I might, I NEVER remembered that idea.  The question nagged at me for days.  I knew that idea was something I should have remembered, and an opportunity slipped away to capture it.  One might say God would give me that idea if it was something He wanted.  And that is possible – He’s done it many times.  However, based on my history of forgetting numerous good things, I think this is an area God needs me to actively address.

I’ve discovered ideas don’t always come at the most convenient time. In fact, they seldom arrive when I’m sitting at my desk with a pen and to-do list.  Telling myself to be creative works as well as telling myself not to eat that delicious red velvet cupcake my son’s girlfriend made.  (I had two)

My most creative thoughts come when I am doing something unrelated to whatever the idea concerns.  Here’s where I get my best ideas:  Driving, showering, doing laundry, reading in bed at night, reading the Bible at any time, and hanging out with friends and family.

So, I’ve been on a quest for years to discover ways to capture ideas and then manage them until I can do something about them. Here are some tips for capturing and managing.

Capturing Ideas

While I’m out:

I keep a notepad in my purse

I call my home number and leave a message.

Text or email myself.

Travel with a micro voice recorder.  Great while driving.

However, the best tool while out has been the iPhone I bought last year with Siri – the voice activated command center.  I use this every day.  I set reminders for myself for when I know I’ll be home and write notes in the notes section.  It’s been a fabulous tool and well worth the investment.  (Note:  I didn’t buy at full price – and I know this is expensive.  But I’m looking at it as an investment in myself and God’s work.)

While I’m home:

I’m still mainly a pen and paper girl at home.  So I have lots of notepads in different places.

However, since my computer is an extension of my hands most days, I’m also learning new ways to capture ideas here until I can manage them.  Personally I’m on Outlook most of the day, so I use the notes and tasks options to write things down.

Also, I am using Evernote more.  This is a free service for capturing and managing ideas.  I’ve yet to master this, but I’m using it in increasing measure and will continue to learn more.  Michael Hyatt  recommends Evernote.  If you’ve never read Michael Hyatt’s blog you might enjoy starting with this post.  Click here.

Managing Ideas

Capturing ideas in a “safe” place is critical.  Here are three ideas:

1.  Use your project management notebook.  I have pages in my planner for ideas I want to remember.  Mine include:  ideas for books I’m working on, devotion ideas with Scripture, and blog post ideas.
2.  Create an idea folder in Word.  Within that folder, create subfolders for ideas.  Here’s an example of what that might look like:

A.  Food
a.  Restaurant to try
b. Recipes to try
c. Food gifts to make
B.  Places
a.  Vacation spots
b.  Camping spots
c.  Activities with the family
C.  People
a.  Friends to invite for dinner
b.  Birthday gift ideas
c.  Prayer requests

This is just a sample of one way to manage ideas.  You’ll need to determine what works best for you. I’ve found that keeping fewer main folders and more sub-folders helps me keep track of things better.

3.  Use something like Evernote to manage your ideas in the same sub-folder manner.

I KNOW there are fabulous  programs out there to manage tasks and ideas.  I’ve looked at lots of them.  One example is Remember The Milk.

Let’s continue this discussion.  How do you manage ideas?  Do you use an online program?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Grace & Peace,





  1. Jewels says

    I use many of these techniques myself. Most of my great ideas for sharing God’s love and inspiration come to me while I’m driving. I keep a HUGE notepad and pen in the car to capture these ideas. Great blog!

  2. Carol Ledford says

    This was awesome today. I don’t know how many of my ideas have been lost for all of the same reasons you shared. This will give me a starting point to work from now. My kids gave me an iPad for Christmas and it would be ideal to start using for my ideas. (I just need to learn what it is capable of doing!) I can’t wait to start putting some of these suggestions to use! Thanks for this blog!

  3. says

    Oh–how many times have I been certain I would remember that fabulous idea? At work, I either make a note or follow through on the idea immediately so that I don’t forget anything. In my personal life? I’m terrible! Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone and giving me some tools to improve.

  4. Lisa says

    I have learned that if I want to remember something I’d better write it down immediately. I keep a small notepad in the car. We also use scrap paper at home (to help recycle) and I cut it into small note papers for this. I have even got into the habit of putting a small piece of paper inside my cell phone (I have the flip open kind). If I see a note sticking out, I know it’s something I have to do. Also, I am forever using the calendar in Outlook and in my cell phone too. I love your ideas too here on this blog – right up my alley! I even hear my sister saying more often, better make a note as a reminder, and I have to laugh because she must have heard me saying that all during the day from all the ones that I do. :-)

  5. Connie says

    Thank you for this post, it is very helpful.

    My problem with ideas I have is more so being over-whelmed by the follow through that ultimately some of my best ideas don’t go anywhere. I struggle with how to move past that.

  6. Darlene Staley says

    Loved reading this today! I actually wrote in my journal last night about how my “ideas” come usually when I am in the middle of something else. I have started carrying around a notebook and chewed on the idea of a voice recorder last night and a long-term planning notebook. I already use Evernote which is fabulous since you can use it at home or on the go. As long as you keep your account synced then you always have access to your notes wherever you are. I agree with keeping ideas organized in folders and sub-folders and find it is the key tool in retrieving past ideas/notes. Looking forward to seeing others tips on this!

  7. says

    Great topic today! I struggle with the same thing when it comes to managing my ideas. My biggest struggle is when I’m in the car and I get a great idea for my blog or for my next craft class and tell myself I will remember this, and I don’t. I do use Evernote to help with this problem. I’m still learning it, but what I like most is that I can access it on my iPhone and iPad whenever I need to. I used to be a pen and paper girl and would try to keep everything in a notebook, but the problem with that was that I would leave home and forget to bring the notebook. But, I never forget to take my iphone with me. I also use NoteMaster to keep track of planning, Notes to keep track of tasks, and Reminder and have Seri remind me of things I need to do when I reach my destinations. Like, I have Seri to remind me when I leave home to take notes on my ideas when they come to me while I’m driving, or remind me when I pull into Target (my favorite store) parking lot that I need to pick up items from file folders to toothpaste. I’ve heard a lot of people use Outlook to help them remember the things that they need to do, I’ve got the book Miscrosoft Plain & Simple for Outlook that I’m starting to read now so I can use Outlook to help with my daily tasks.

  8. says

    WOW! This brought back to me the time I was outside cutting the grass. An awesome idea popped into my head (something I had been praying about). I instantly turned off the mower and went inside to my compter to jot out the notes running through my brain. Although the notes stayed open in a word document for several days before completing at least the main idea wasn’t lost like so many times in the past. What great ideas you give. I have began carrying a note pad with me everywhere and keep one next to my bed. I never know when an inspiration hits. It’s always God’s timing not mine and usually when I least expect it. Thank you for this timely post.

  9. Cathy says

    I am a “sticky note” queen when it comes to capturing ideas and notes. I keep sticky note pads everywhere! I mainly use the small 1 1/2 x 2″ ones for quick “tickler” type notes. I have a daytimer binder that goes everywhere with me, and it has a leather cover – perfect for sticking notes to the outside. I use this method when I don’t want to forget an errand after work, or a one-word reminder to myself about something I don’t want to forget.
    I will also sometimes put a sticky note on my bathroom mirror at night to remind me about something for the next day – that way I see it first thing in the morning (I use this mainly to remind myself about anything that will require me to leave the house a few minutes early, such as filling the car with gas, or dropping something off at the bank on the way to work).
    Another thing I do (still with sticky notes) is put them on the tab pages of my project organizer, until I can put the details on either my project list or task list. I sometimes use the small stickys to “schedule” a task for a certain day – the bright colors help remind me, plus I have to remove the sticky to write in my planner, so I’m sure to see it.

  10. Gene Ann says

    I’m so glad to see that I am not the only one with this problem of remembering ideas–for my business, for the ministries through which I serve, recipes, etc. Since I’m gluten intolerant, I’m always looking for tasty recipes that both my family and I will enjoy. Saving recipes as word documents on the computer works for me. It beats sifting through printed copies because I can search by title. It worked so well that I had to go back and subdivide the categories.

    I too am a big fan of notepads and calling my phone to leave a reminder to myself.

  11. Michele says

    Love your ideas, I’ve actually called my answering machine to leave myself a message before. I’m a note pad and pen girl myself. I like the idea of the notebook to keep up with everything. Thanks for the ideas and for the giveaway on RooMag!

    • says

      I send emails to myself- at the very least I’ll save them in the drafts folder. Good tool for saving web addresses that I want to explore a little bit more…

  12. says

    Great topic, Glynnis! I say my memory brain cells were sucked out a few at a time as I gave birth to each of my four children. Since then, I’ve carried either a personal day planner or a notebook/journal with me to capture great ideas or to keep track of appointments, etc. The places I’m most inspired? The shower, the kitchen sink, while reading the Word or out-and-about. One more tip: I’ve seen a lot of people mentioning recipes. Pinterest is a great place to store recipes you’ve found online, etc. That’s a website I’d recommend.

    • says

      Hi Alycia, I followed you…to Pinterest! That was my theme for creating (following not pinning) a love note, i.e. card for my hubby for Valentines Day.

  13. says

    Unrestrained thought processes turn into a future blog! I have embraced the technology of my smart phone and that cute little icon (or App) “memo”. I loose or spill coffee on pieces of paper! I have a running list of groceries and while I’m waiting (for whatever), I brainstorm. Are you my sister?

  14. Susan says

    Wow! Glynnis, you are such an amazing source for ideas. And I so totally relate to all the STUFF spilling out of my ears. I struggle with being distracted (ADHD), so I truly need realistic tools to help me. I tend to get ideas in the middle of the night. That’s when I’m truly quiet and God can plant His creative ideas in my brain, without all the chaos of the day clamoring around me. I am a Paper addict; love everything about it, so its been a challenge for me with the surge of all the technology available to us now. I recently got a new cell phone and it took me a week just to figure out how to answer it! LOL! Praise God, I have a very patient, supportive family to help me out. THANKS!

  15. says

    I got a good chuckle off of this one. I’m a visual artist and my life is one big idea after another…with a lot of little poofs of inspiration in between. An inherent part of what God has given me to do as a creative person has involved developing the discipline of recording ideas. I have scribbled ideas on napkins (gotta be extra careful during allergy season LOL), on my hands, man, anything I can get my hands on to at least record the essence of it, whether visual or verbal. My husband has learned to never, ever throw away anything that has my handwriting or scribbling on it unless I’ve seen it first LOL. Some of my best work has come from dreams and images I’ve gotten while just meditating on God and the cool stuff he’s given me to do. It’s only been recently that I’ve come to grips with the fact that God has given me more ideas than I will ever have time to explore in this lifetime, so I am saving the best ones for when I am hanging out with Him and Jesus in eternity…I bet He has an awesome art/craft/fabric supply store, and everything is FREE!!! Whew. I can only imagine…

  16. Belinda says

    I am a pen and paper person myself. I list errands , phone calls to make, appointments, and of course things to do on my daily list. I make up a page for each day and have at least a week ahead. I always leave room for ideas. I carry pen and paper everywhere.
    I also use the google calendar and it works out great. We have me, my husband, our daughter, and notes for each person on one calendar in different colors for each person. This is an awesome way to keep track of everyone! Ilove your ideas and will be trying out more of them. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Karen says

    I love these ideas! What a great blog today! I just put a big spiral notebook and a big pen in my car! No more ideas will slip away from me there….and one is going on my bookshelf headboard next!! Love this! Thanks!

  18. Jennifer says

    Glynnis—You have got to check out….you will love it! (This will sound like I’m getting paid for this, but I’m not) They have a website that you can access via your iphone, blackberry, ipad, or computer. It’s calendar app is color coded for each member of the family, and you can enter your husband, and kids cell phones connected with their color and when you set a reminder for an activity that they are involved in Cozi send them a reminder text automatically. It has a shopping list feature, which I have broken down by store, but the main reason I tell you this is that it has a To-Do list, which I have broken down into: Today, Husband, Websites to visit, Books to read, Blog ideas, Thank yous to write, etc. That way when you have a great idea, you can store it there….and you can email the list to anyone or to yourself! So when my husband says that he can drop by the store for me then I just send him the running list that I already have on my phone to his phone! It has other features: dinner planner, family blog, etc. Amazingly, its free!

    • Tiffany Purnell says

      Jennifer, I agree. I have just discovered Cozi and it is a great tool, especially the Journal function which allows you to capture various ideas. Unfortunately, this function isn’t available on all smartphones, but is still useful if you have access to it.

      Other ways to capture ideas include: notebook that I always carry in my purse, post-its especially beside my bed since I get a lot of ideas waking up or falling asleep, post-its in the bathroom, and napkins (though I’m trying to move away from this one – smile).

  19. says

    I really like Evernote and Pinterest. I also have an app on my Android phone simply called “To Do List” which seems to improve with every software update. It allows you to check items off a list without losing the list, and you can forward your list to other people. For example, I list my groceries along with quantity and prices per item. I can forward it to my husband if he goes to the store before I do. As I check off the common items, I can simply uncheck them the next time I go to the store AND I can compare prices. Score!

  20. says

    I am slowly acclimating to Evernote as well. I’m not sure I “get it” yet and I consider myself pretty tech savvy. I am currently using the iPhone app Wunderlist for my to do lists. I can categorized them but what I like about Evernote as it’s just a matter of clipping from the web … I don’t know that I’ve found the perfect system yet but it always seems to be a work in progress!!

  21. Jillian says

    I recently discovered OneNote which is probably Similar to Evernote . Thank you for your tips though. It brings my thoughts all together .

  22. faith semien says

    I love “springpad” app. It is much easier to use than evernote. It automatically syncs between computer & cell phone. If you use GOOGLE, the icon is ever present for you to clip notes, recipes, copy/paste, etc.

  23. Lori says

    It’s amazing how many of us women have exactly the same tendencies! Reading your blog and experience was like I’d written it myself. In addition to the list of ‘when my brain works the best’ ( shower… driving… etc), I also come up with some incredible ideas at about 2 a.m. I can remember doing that when I was a teenager even ( MANY years ago), and then in the morning, sure enough, that perfect dance routine I’d choreographed in my head had vanished. So, keeping a note pad, pen and flashlight next to the bed helps to log those most creative moments, and also helps me go back to sleep without further worrying about how I’ll remember it.

  24. Christine says

    Love your blog… I am a new reader, and have found much inspiration and affirmation here. The online planner my family is using now has been valuable for storing information and little notes, and keeping up with our schedules. Though we are just 3, we can feel like 13 at times! Check out if you are interested. We looked at google’s planner, but liked cozi better. As a former Franklin Covey paper user, this was a big step for me, and I’m finding that this streamlines my time and activities!

  25. says

    I have 3 writing notebooks in strategic locations (car, tote bag, and my desk at work). When I’m at my home computer, I love using Microsoft One Note. It’s a great tool for organizing ideas and projects. I’m also looking forward to getting an iPhone soon so Siri can take messages for me.

    Still, it’s frustrating how often I lose ideas before I have a chance to capture them. Most often, it’s because I think of something as I’m falling asleep, while I’m walking, or when I’m in the shower. I love the idea of keeping a flashlight and notepad by the bed, and I’ve decided to get bathtub crayons to jot down the ideas that come to me when I’m in the shower.

  26. Patricia says

    I would say that I came upon this by accident, however, there are no accidents with God is there. LOL I can soo relate. I have come our of a background that has been very painful. I would often want to right down a thought or two but by the time I put a writing utensil to paper, I could only remember the first word or two. :( It was very frustrating to say the least. In fact. I would get very angry with myself and it was not until recently that I realized that I was abusing myself in the same way that others were and had. It has taken a longggg time to come to the point that I can now remember things a lot easier, however, I still have difficulty at times. It seems incredibly difficult because there seems to be an awful lot of good things lost. I know that God has spoken to me also about having a plan yet I have failed to always keep that plan in place. He knows how frustrating it is for me and I think that if I would simply take time to implement what I need to do the frustration would be sooo not there or at least very minimal. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I think THIS is a GOOD time to start implementing.

  27. Fawn says

    Great ideas on keeping ideas organized, but my problem is that I can’t let ideas go. I will have some great idea on how to make something more efficient, or an idea for a fun event, or some kind of project- and then before I know it, I’m all wrapped up in something that was way more time consuming than I had expected or planned. Even though it is a great idea, sometimes I have to let it go. I think if I stored all of my ideas, the information overload would be even more overwhelming. If it is an idea God wants me to pursue, it usually keeps coming back to me without having to write it down. I also ask Him to remind me if I can’t jot something down that I know is important, and that has been an effective strategy. As time passes, my heart is moving toward keeping things as simple as possible in all areas of my life, and He is teaching me that letting go can be the better way. A “need” does not mean it is my “calling.” All of my good ideas lead me away from Him at times, if I’m not vigilant.

  28. Kate Fullilove says

    One thing I began this year is a small 3 x 5 index file for birthday ideas that sits beside my computer. Magazine or catalog picture cutouts with the name of the person [I think might like it] written in permanent marker and alphabetized under their first name initial keeps things orderly.

  29. Alicia* says

    What a lot of great ideas!

    My husband loves to us Microsoft OneNote, and I really enjoy using Pinterest – it is accessible anywhere I can get internet service (including my smart phone), and can “pin” anything onto it. Not only websites, but it is also capable of uploading photos. I have recipes saved, books, blogs, and other things. It also has an organizing system – the various “pin boards”. It works very well for this visual girl! :)

  30. Heleen says

    Thank you for all these fantastic ideas. I am at the age (over 50) where forgetting things become the norm and therefore these brilliant ideas are wonderful to discover and try out. On the other hand my ideas nowadays are much better than before – thanks to the Lord for opening other doors.
    Because my mobile phone is constantly with me, I keep a paper notebook – the same size as the phone – also with me and stuck a pencil with a thread to the book, not to loose the pencil. All to-do things, ideas, email addresses, websites to visit, etc are written in there. Once done, I tick it off in the margin. I can then always turn back to previous pages to see what is still outstanding. This book replaced my many colourfull sticky notes and at the same time de-cluttered my life and my desk and everything is more organized.
    THANK YOU again for sharing your ideas with us!

  31. Luisa says

    Thank you for giving us (all disorganized women) encouragement and hope with every post! :) I’m thrilled every time I found in my mail the news of a new post.

    I’m an IB senior student (which by the way has been a total challenge in every aspect of my life, specially my time, space and time organization) and trust me , every day seems as if I’m forgetting something.

    I use the notepad idea as a daily basis to keep track of assignments, projects and ideas (I love art, and creative projects pop out from a napkin and I have to write it down so that they won’t be lost forever).

    Glynnis I’m truly grateful with God for having you, as organizing my mind is one the areas I battle the most. I have been reading your post for the last months and today I’m glad to know, part of HIS design is that I’m able to handle an organized, and consequently a happy life.

    THANK YOU again for being God’s tool to encourage to be more organized!

    From Colombia, God bless you.

    • Glynnis says

      Hi Luisa – My son was in IB. Even though it was hard, it prepared him for college like nothing else. I’m really happy you are reading my blog. That makes me smile. :-)

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