Are you very impulsive?
Do you get tons of new ideas each day?
Are you constantly struggling to complete the projects you have started?
Are you lacking focus?
If you can answer yes to some or all of these questions, then you are not alone.
The challenge for many people, including me, is to find out when to act on new ideas and impulses and when to stick to the projects that they have already started.
Many people are afraid that if they don’t act on their ideas now, they’ll forget them or they will feel overwhelmed from trying to keep all their ideas in their head.
A simple strategy for dealing with this situation is to create an Idea Box that you review on regular intervals.
Having an Idea Box allows you to capture all of your ideas, while keeping your focus on the projects you already started.
There are several key factors to make an Idea Box work for you:
- Create a physical box or a physical file folder. Do not use a transparent plastic folder. If you can see what you put in the box/folder, you’re more likely to get distracted.
- Whenever you get an idea or an impulse to start a new project, quickly write it down on a piece of paper and put it into your Idea Box. Add as much detail as you need to get the idea out of your head, but try not to spend too long on this.
- Get into the habit of reviewing the idea box on regular intervals. For most people, every 2nd week is a good interval. Make sure to commit yourself to doing this. Otherwise the ideas will pile up and (more importantly) you might stop using the Idea Box because your brain stops trusting that you’ll get back to the ideas. You might want to create a recurring reminder for yourself.
- When reviewing each idea, you must decide if you want to keep the idea or discard it. When doing so, consider if the idea would bring you closer to your long-term goals. What many people find is that a lot of ideas can be discarded after some time. Be ruthless. Only keep the best ones and the ones that you are likely to want to act on at some point in the future.
- For all the ideas you keep, consider how important they are and when you think it’s realistic to start working on them. If you expect to start working on an idea or a project within the next couple of weeks, you might want to add it to your list of upcoming tasks/projects. If you don’t expect to work on it for the next couple of weeks, add it to you list of future tasks/projects (assuming you have such a list). The key concept is to get it out of the Idea Box and to get it into your regular system for planning.
These simple steps can make a real difference. They will make it easier for you to stick to the projects that you have already started, while giving you a system for capturing, reviewing, and prioritizing all of your ideas without too much distraction.
A final note: Following this system of course doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to act on any of your ideas or impulses immediately. Sometimes it’s appropriate to do so when you’re inspired to do so and you have the energy. This can indeed be very efficient, because it sets the universe in motion. But try to limit yourself to only do this for ideas and projects that you’re likely to follow through with. All the other ideas should go to your Idea Box. Otherwise you’re likely to keep feeling unfocused and overwhelmed, and you’re likely to never complete the projects you already started.
Unsure if this would work for you? Give it a try, see how it works, and tweak the system if it doesn’t give you the benefits that you hope for.