Monday Lives: Low Effort tips to find your way out of idea overwhelm
Ever felt like you’ve got 101 ideas, but none of it seems to make sense?
Or you’re surrounded by pieces of paper covered in notes, but you never seem to be able to find anything?
Or that you’ve tried all the latest to-do lists and bullet journalling techniques, but you’re no closer to getting yourself sorted?
That’s exactly what Lottie Roberts (@studiolottie) posted about on Instagram:
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I have too many ideas! Send help! 😣 I have so many ideas, thoughts & plans for Studio Lottie & little idea on how to organise them. I love a list & I’ve been enjoying my bullet journalling lately but after that? No idea! How do you keep all your thoughts & ideas organised?
Argh! You’re facing idea overwhelm.
Not to worry. Lottie’s challenge is a common one, and I tackled it in my Monday Live over on Instagram.
So how exactly do you go about organising your ideas?
What’s the best method for getting them all in one place?
And making sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do – helping you bring your dreams to life?
Here are my tips.
#1 Reality check: there’s no such thing as having ‘too many’ ideas
Many people I work with worry about having ‘too many’ ideas. They are constantly dreaming up new projects and experiments, jotting them down in a notebook, and then feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ideas they have.
But did you know it took James Dyson over 5,000 different attempts at prototypes before he created the Dyson vacuum cleaner?
Our natural inclination is to want a linear path through life: one great idea, one path to bring it into being, and one project at the end of it. But it’s the power of the creative to always be finding new and interesting ways to think about the world – which means lots and lots of ideas.
What the worry about having ‘too many’ ideas masks is often the frustration at having great ideas but not doing anything with them.
#2 Get all those ideas in one place
If you’re anything like me, if an idea comes to you you have to write it down in that moment.
That means as creative people, we’re often surrounded by half-finished notebooks, scraps of paper, napkins and Post-Its covered in memos about ideas we had at three in the morning.
When all our ideas are all over the place – literally – it’s hard to make decisions about which one to work on. When two ideas are next to each other, you can compare them and make an informed choice about which project to work on.
How you decide to put all your ideas in one place is up to you. You can try digital tools like Evernote, Google Keep or a big Word document. Or you can use a journal that you carry round with you, or a ringbinder with sleeves to slot in all those scraps of paper.
My favourite method, however, is keeping a sketchbook. I’m training myself to put all my ideas in there – whether that’s direct onto the page or sticking them in if I’ve written them on a Post-It.
And it is a case of training yourself to do this. It’s easy to avoid it, and therefore avoid having to do anything with your ideas! But if you really want to bring some of these things to life, start by getting them in one place.
#3 Hard-to-hear truth: you don’t have to act on all your ideas
Once you’ve had an idea, it’s completely normal to want to act on it.
“This is it!”, you think. “This is the million dollar idea! The one I was born to create!”. I’ve definitely had moments like that.
But the hard-to-hear truth is that you do not have to act on all your ideas. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it.
One of the challenges when your ideas are scattered all over the place is you might struggle to decide which one to act on. That’s because they all seem ‘equal’: they’re all on bits of paper and all, apparently, good ideas.
So you end up acting on none of them! It’s just too hard to choose.
Once you start to get all those ideas in one place (see #2), you can compare them and really think about which ones are going to work. Some of the questions you can ask yourself are:
- Do I have the energy for this idea right now?
- Do I know how to bring this idea to life? And if not, am I willing to learn?
- Does this feel like a step towards what I’m trying to achieve in my work / business / practice / life?
- Do I feel excited about this idea? Like, really excited?
- Is this idea aligned with my truest self?
I know that the ideas I’ve loved working on, those which have truly helped me grow and develop, and which have been profitable (both financially and in other ways) have all got me yelling “Yes!!” at the top of my lungs in answer to those questions.
#4 Take some tips from nature
Living in modern society means it’s easy to ignore the rhythms of nature – rhythms we would’ve lived by long, long ago.
Rather than get up with the sun and go to bed when the moon appears, we get up when we need to and go to sleep whenever we fancy. We’re generally encouraged to stay the same all year round, even though the natural world around us is changing – all the time!
Taking some tips from nature is a great way to help you get organised and find your flow.
It’s likely that during winter you’ll have less energy to go out and do things, so you can use this time to sort, reflect and choose which ideas you want to work on for the coming year.
Similarly, in spring and summer you’ll start to have more energy – so it’s a great time to take action on your big projects and get out there, spreading the word with your community.
Each of us goes through different ‘seasons’ in our life too. Sometimes you’ll feel full of ideas and ready to bloom; other times it’ll be quieter, calmer and slower – as if your mind has gone into hibernation.
Rather than berate yourself in that moment for having too many ideas, or not enough ideas, think about the personal ‘season’ you’re in and allow yourself to find a natural rhythm. You might find that working with your ‘seasons’ ends up being much more productive than fighting against them.
Thank you Lottie for the inspiration for this Monday Live. If you have a question you’d like answering on a Monday Live, send it my way firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you again next time!
Each Monday at 8pm I go Live on Instagram with inspiring updates, solutions to your questions and simple things to learn to help you with your creative and development. Follow me on Instagram @eleanorsnare and submit your questions via DM to be featured on the Live!