Productivity

Finding Ideas: The ‘Carry A Notebook’ Advice Kinda Sorta Works

I’m not a huge fan of long-hand writing. However, I took a leap of faith and started to carry a notebook around in my pocket. It actually works! Here’s how it helped me out.

No time? Listen to it instead

I believe most people have heard this age-old piece of advice. It goes like this—always carry a notebook with you. Why? To jot down everything. You could journal; you could write what you feel exactly when you felt it; or you could write ideas in it, every day. I’m sure by now you’re wondering, “but I can do all of that on my phone”, and that’s what I used to think too until I gave the notebook thing a shot but not how most articles told me to do.

Let me just put this out there—I don’t enjoy writing with my hand. I think it is clumsy and tiresome. Irrespective of the purist ideas, it does not sit right with me that my words move slower than my thoughts. However, to each their own. So if you enjoy writing long-hand, more power to you. I can’t do it.

Now that we have that out there, let me say how much I have enjoyed keeping a notebook with me at all times lately. It wasn’t a life-changing experience; few things are life-changing experiences. However, it was this thing I did on a whim, and I think I’ve found my definition of the age-old maxim.

One Word: Ideas

Most people extend the carry a notebook at all times advice with the point of writing five, or whatever arbitrary n sounds cool, ideas down (and thinking of them in the first place, if you’re clueless like me) every day. This process is similar to writing a journal. Just that, you write five ideas about anything you can or cannot even do. The motive here to get your ideation muscle up and running, and to keep it always warmed up.

This process did not work for me. It has never worked for me. I don’t understand the point of forcing ideas out of myself. I get a lot of ideas. There’s no need to force them. You have to be open to inspiration at all times. I agree with that. However, I don’t know how I can convince myself to churn five ideas out every day even if I’m going to do nothing with them. That is if I can manage five every day.

Ideas aren’t like your poo-routine. They don’t always come at the same time. Some days you get five; some days you’re constipated. Anyone who says otherwise is promoting toxic hustle culture.

So, with that thought, I figured I’ll still carry a notebook on me at all times but differently. I bought a 3.5″ x 5″ notebook which would easily slip into my back pocket, and I began.

But, What Did I Begin?

I began writing ideas but not religiously. I let the ideas flow whenever they wanted to come. There was no format, and the pages which are filled till now feel like a deranged mind was writing them.

Click or tap on the images for a closer look. If you follow me on Instagram, and if you read the blog, I’m sure you can see some ideas I’ve worked on already. Also, spoiler alert for some of the posts which haven’t seen the light of day yet.

Whenever I felt like a sentence I thought of struck a chord, I realised I could make it a piece of prose for my Instagram. If I felt I learned something, I jotted it down for a blog post. There is an entire page dedicated to Data Dimwit. I’ve not begun working on it yet. If you look at the pages carefully, you can see how The Nudge came about on one page. There’s also a teensy and atrociously drawn logo idea I never implemented.

There’s a lot I can say here, but the thing is, there’s no process to ideas. There’s no process of getting ideas. I agree that everyone has a ritual, but I’ve realised that there’s nothing to getting ideas except two simple things.

Expose yourself to ideas; always be open to getting your own.

The ideas come to us all the time. The notebook helps record them quickly. To me, ideas come like I have written them down—crudely, in random phrases, and sometimes, just words. The key is to build on to them. We can’t build on to them if we don’t record them. The notebook in my back pocket helps me do exactly that.

But, Why Can’t You Type Them Out?

I love my phone. I get a lot done with it. However, my phone, like everyone else’s is a labyrinth of distraction. There’s always notifications and random noise spreading over the good stuff.

Sometimes, I’d take my phone out to jot an idea but then get distracted with a notification from Instagram or a text from a friend, and I’d completely forget about the idea until later during the day.

I know sometimes the ideas never returned. They’re sneaky that way.

The Nudge

With the avenues available for each person to be able to express themselves exactly how they want, no ideas must get wasted. However, there’s a lot of toxicity to finding ideas. There’s a mechanical concept of ideation that takes the joy out of things. Daydreaming should be fun. Connecting the dots should be fun. Finding new ways to express yourself should be fun. So, let it be just that, and if it helps, carry a notebook.

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