Communication essentials: the dumb idea notebook

I have a dumb idea notebook. I started keeping it about two months ago, and it may be one of my new favorite things.

Here’s how it works. Any idea that pops into my head throughout the day I write down, almost word for word how it appeared in my mind. I date it and close the notebook.

I revisit the notebook every two weeks and then ‘score’ the dumb ideas. Some make it out of the notebook. A lot don’t. Which I’m glad about. More on that in a minute.

You may be wondering why I do this. Well, one thing I’ve noticed during the pandemic is that my brain jumps around a lot more than it used to. I think we’re all going through this. We move from idea to idea, project to project, thought to thought. Our brains are kind of being rewired a bit to process information quicker, making it harder to focus for long periods of time.

Now, beyond building thinking time into the day, and of course, leaving room for meditation, I wanted to think of a constructive way to address these ideas and thoughts. Tracking them provides some closure and allows me to move on – or share what may now be a good idea. (Also, I didn’t want to burden our senior team by emailing or messaging them every time I had an idea.)

Doing this allows me to continue thinking creatively, doesn’t discount any thoughts and leaves room for evaluation and refinement. Now, as I said earlier, not many make it out. Thank goodness. Because, you know … they’re not very good. But I love having dumb ideas – I think sometimes you need to let your brain wander (and wonder) a bit to explore and probe new ways of thinking, new ways to shift the mind. Success isn’t really defined by the outcome as much as the process itself (a rationale that applies to a lot more than ideation).

Try it for yourself, if only to practice the creativity and mindfulness that are so critical to other aspects of your day. Who knows? Maybe your next big idea will be found somewhere among those dumb ideas …