I’m not that creative… and worse yet - I’m blonde. I still happen to have ideas, though. Sometimes :-) When I need to, I force myself to reflect and come up with a nice solution or plan. More often, interesting thoughts just pop into my head in the most unexpected situations… Because I don’t want to lose these little treasures, I always capture them. I encourage you to do the same.

The purpose of all this commotion?

Idea dumping is a really handy procedure - whether you do it routinely or spontaneously. Thoughts in your mind, although precious, can be a hindrance to productivity. When they float around in your head, they will surface again and again at inappropriate times, stress you out and, worse still, be lost when they are actually needed.

You might want to run idea-dumping sessions for two reasons:

1. To find solutions and be creative

Stressful daily responsibilities can weaken your creative thinking and keep your imagination on a tight leash. That’s why you need these special moments when cool ideas and daydreaming are allowed.

2. To focus attention and clear your mind

In order to enter a deep-work mode, you need to funnel your attention towards the things you want to concentrate on. If there are loose thoughts floating in your mind, they will consume your focus and use the mental energy needed for what’s really important.

OK. Let’s dump it! But when and how?

You can capture your ideas regularly, in the morning or in the evening, when planning your work. It could become your daily routine that will get you ready to start a productive day.

At times, however, your brain opens up all of the sudden. Sometimes just one idea pops to your head. Sometimes, you will have to deal with a creative flood. (It feels great! I remember I experienced it in 2008 before I moved in with my partner and had our first child…). Allow yourself time to let your mind relax and freely wander wherever it wants…

…but don’t lose it then!

The key: You’d better write everything down so that you don’t lose anything important. Follow the “idea capturing” advice from GTD methodology: Anything from your head should land directly on paper or even better - in your trusted productivity system. ASAP! First spontaneously, and then - when you have time - it should be arranged in the proper place: project / catalogue / calendar, etc.

How to use Nozbe for idea dumping

It’s easy! Whether you run an organized idea dumping session or you’ve just had this cool idea - put it in your Nozbe Inbox. This is one of the first elements you see when opening the app. A cozy box that whispers: Fill me up with your stuff, please…

Capturing routine

So you decided to create a daily routine - you sit down, open your Nozbe Inbox and start the thought dumping session. Empty your head and write down everything you think of as separate tasks. Take your time. Follow the flow. Don’t worry if some of the thoughts are a bit absurd or feel useless. You’ll deal with all this later.

Once you’re done there is probably a longish list of tasks in your Inbox. Good! Now, take a look at each of them - one by one and decide what to do with it. It sounds a bit like running a weekly review, doesn’t it? Indeed. Idea dumping might be a part of it. But Augusto Pinaud recommends clearing your head every day in order to have a free mind when starting work.

  • Pain in the back
  • Car insurance???
  • Filthy window
  • Tutorial in Japanese
  • Tweak the checklist for publishing a blog post…

These are some examples. Now each of the tasks needs to be processed.

Pain in the back. What should I do? Doctor? Exercises? Osteopathic practitioner? I’ll decide and update the task, then move it to my “private” project and mark it with the “health” category. Next I’ll plan when I can make an appointment and write down some details regarding the actions required. It would be great to set a deadline so that I’m sure I’ll take care of it soon. Today?

Car insurance. I saw a car accident this morning and it made me think of my documents. When does the insurance expire? Let’s check it now. Next month? Oooopsss. No good. They charge more and more each year even though I drive like an angel. I’ll assign it to my private / home project. Set the deadline for the fourth of next month. I’ve set the recurrence to “every year” so I don’t stress out next year.

Filthy window. Yeah… it’s really filthy. But it’s going to rain soon, I’m sure… If I wash it now, my work will be ruined… Great argument! Delete the task. I feel relieved.

Tutorial in Japanese. It’s going to rain soon… well… no… that won’t work this time. I check the status of the translation process. It’s almost ready! Tomorrow, I’ll be able to send it to the voice artist who will record a voice over. I create a task and set a deadline for tomorrow.

And so on, and so on.

It goes really quickly and after 10 minutes you’re ready to commit to the deep work and get things done.

Sudden idea

When you are concentrating on an important task and an idea pops into your head, you might quickly open Nozbe and write the thought in your Inbox. Then you will need to go back there when you’re done with work and process the task: assign it to the appropriate project, set dates, categories and other parameters.

Another solution is to write the idea down on a piece of paper that you keep at your fingertips when working. Then, when you are finished with your important task, you move the thought from the paper to Nozbe. In this case, you skip the Inbox and add your task directly to the appropriate project where you define it with parameters.

Extra tips

Be descriptive and deliberate when naming tasks. You don’t want to write an idea down quickly, and then look at it later just to realize you have no clue what it was about.

Process your notes. If you just write your thoughts down, but don’t actually transfer them to your action system, it’s not worth the effort. Everything you “dump” onto a paper or into your Nozbe Inbox has to be acted upon, or at least decided upon (you might also decide to ditch it like I did with my filthy window), otherwise your system won’t work.

Make use of the new technology. When you’re on the run, cycling or just trying to make it to school to pick up your older child on time with the younger one in a stroller you can still have a fantastic idea. In these cases, use your voice to capture your thoughts. If you have an iPhone or Apple Watch ask Siri to create a new note for you. If you use an Android smartphone, you can choose one of the apps for voice notes, eg. Google Keep.

Final reminder

If you don’t want to lose cool thoughts and then stress out about it, jot down ideas immediately. Don’t wait until later. You’ll forget. Even if you don’t forget, you will waste lots of mental energy trying to remember, instead of focusing on really important work.

Written by Magda of Nozbe marketing team