The First 3 Steps to Process Your Ideas without Stress

You might have an idea swirling around in your head for some time. Or if you’re like me, you have tons of ideas that seem to enter and leave your brain constantly. Ideas ranging from building a business-related app, designing a collection of wedding gloves, pursuing a doctoral degree in Europe, and more. 

The majority of these may feel abstract and raw, meaning that you cannot clearly and convincingly explain these ideas to a friend in three sentences. You don’t know if it is just a temporary interest that will fade or a groundbreaking idea that you will work on to turn into reality. 

Unprocessed ideas take up mental space. 

Often good ideas are forgotten, only to pop up to the surface again during some random conversation. So here are some methods to process your ideas in the beginning:

1. Get a full scope on your ideas 

In the beginning, you need to get a full scope of your idea. But don’t overcomplicate things and risk getting discouraged. The goal at this stage is just to figure out whether you will take this idea further or not. This process of brainstorming different aspects of the idea will help you get more clarity and ultimately help you decide whether you want to turn this idea into a project, or let it be (If it turns into a project, read my post on Starting a New Project: Why You Need to Take Off Next Monday) 

Jot down notes related to the following question: 

What do you want to gain by implementing this idea? 

Is it just for fun or do you want to make a living off of it? 

What do you already know about it? What related skills and knowledge do you have? 

How is it connected to what you are currently doing? 

What investment would be required to implement this idea? 

Do you want to implement this idea yourself or pass it on to someone else? 

What projects or businesses are already out there that are related to your idea?

Make it very simple, and don’t put pressure on yourself to carve out every detail yet. A simple list of random notes will do at this stage. If you fret about writing down a proper sentence or pressure yourself into having to deliver a logical and conclusive analysis, then you will never start.

2. Centralize your notes

Start a new notebook. If you already have many notebooks, or you have a bullet journal, start a new page or section. Have this notebook within reach, with a pen available on top of it or tied to it so you don’t have the excuse that you have nothing to write. 

If you prefer digitizing your idea, simply type down your material into the notepad of your phone. Use Google Drive. E-mailing yourself sounds like a good idea, but unless you consolidate the contents of your e-mails at some point in time, you can end up with a lot of scattered e-mails on the subject. Some people prefer to record their voices using a dictation device or phone. 

The point is, to have a dedicated space or a system to record your ideas so that you can easily review them later. For ideas that are undeveloped and are at a very early stage, the very forgiving bullet journal has worked very well for me. For ideas that have turned into full-fledged projects, I have needed a separate notebook that evolved into a series of word documents. But more about this in another post.

3. Talk to a person you trust with the idea and especially with your feelings 

You don’t want the first person you talk to, to be the one who instantly breaks down that very idea, and makes you doubt your idea more than you already do. It is not easy to maintain constant faith in a crazy idea. Nothing against people who deliver valuable and objective insight into the matter. On the contrary, you will rely on these people to give you honest feedback on your progress in the long run. 

But beware of naysayers who just have the habit of seeing only the negative in every idea. 

Talk to the right people about your ideas. People who are good listeners, who have some degree of knowledge and experience in the area, and who want you to progress. Ask them open questions. 

What do they think about the idea in general? What people might be interested in the resulting product or service of this idea? What do they think is the biggest challenge of this idea?

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