It hits you when you least expect it. That special moment when you awake from a dream, or while you’re rinsing the shampoo out of your hair.
It’s there for a fleeting moment, as fast as it appears it vanishes. Later, when you try to recollect it, it’s nowhere to be found.
A way to keep those ideas around: an idea journal. An idea journal is not a diary where you have to record all the details of your day. Rather it’s a place where you jot down daily goals achievements, observations, ideas for projects, quotes, or other bits of inspiration.
If you’re working on a project, you can fill your journal with updates on your progress, thoughts on how to improve the project, and anything else that motivates you. Ultimately, the idea journal exists as a private place to plant your thoughts and watch them grow.
“Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.”
Albert Einstein was a highly motivated, creative individual and kept some form of an idea journal. In fact, there’s 80,000 records of documents held at the Hebrew University. That’s a lot of ideas. They offer insight into Einstein’s’ experiences, travels and scientific writings.
Here’s more reasons why successful people may keep one.
1.) It Helps to Organize, Remember and Develop Ideas. You need a place to organize all your ideas. Journals help to clarify your thoughts and express them more clearly. The action of writing down an idea forces you to think more deeply about it.
2.) Learn from your failures. Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win in multiple sciences. She also kept detailed lab notebooks that described her discovery of two elements: radium and polonium. These notes, so radioactive that it will be thousands of years before anyone will be able to safely peruse them without protection, gave her a permanent and immediate record of her experiments, failures and accomplishments.
While your idea journal won’t be radioactive like Curie’s, it can act as a lab notebook of sorts. While working on a project, or trying to develop an idea, use it to record your journey: the setbacks, milestones and the final achievements.
3.) Keeps you Motivated. The most productive inventor in American history, Thomas Edison was also a prolific note-taker, leaving behind more than 5 million pages at the time of his death in 1931. The notebooks, roughly 6×9 inches and averaging 285 pages each, record in minute detail everything from his business dealings to ideas to future inventions and patents.
At the top of the page, which can be seen in this photo is, things doing and to be done. Edison’s to-do lists shows how we can use an idea journal to not only fight procrastination but list things, even with detailed pictures of the things that you’re passionate about. And go out and do them.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to keep an idea journal. It’s up to you what to fill it with. The goal is to keep you motivated, inspired and to learn a little about yourself along the way. Ultimately, the idea journal is a portable laboratory where we can record our own unique perspective on the world, note the things in our lives that awaken our muse, and experiment with new ideas.