If you want to be more creative and develop better ideas, one of the first steps should be to start an idea journal. This is your place to jot down ideas, questions, and observations – anything that comes to mind.

Your journal could take any form ranging from 3×5 cards tucked into a pocket or purse to a computer-based system. No matter which method you choose, the secret is selecting something you can keep with you at all times that allows you to write down thoughts whenever they come to mind.

Having your idea journal handy when you have a neat idea, inspiration, or a question. It will allow you to capture ideas before they slip away.

Michael Gelb, in his book How To Think Like Leonardo, writes:

“Busy lives and job responsibilities tend to drive us toward hard conclusions and measurable results, but the exploratory, free-flowing, unfinished nonjudgmental practice of keeping a notebook encourages freedom of thought and expansion of perspective.”

Well put.

Below I’ve listed potential approaches for your journal.

Low Tech

Do It Yourself Planner – Used to be on the D*I*Y Planner website, download and print templates to create your planner system. The original DIY site no longer exists; here is a copy of the files I have saved. DIY Planner | DIY Planner 2-per page

The Hipster PDA – The Hipster PDA is a fully customizable organizer for your data. Settings are easy to customize, never needs rebooting, and costs pennies to operate.

Levenger – 3×5 card solutions. Levenger offers excellent tools supporting the use of 3×5 cards. Low tech, but high class.

Software

Voice Recorders