Write it down. Get it out of your head. Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
Productivity advice often centers around getting things out of your head.
Notetaking advice is often similar:
– Always write your thoughts down.
– Writing is thinking.
In many ways, writing and “getting things out of your head” through writing can be powerful. Writing certainly helps me organize my thoughts and store my intentions as tasks.
For example, to wrap up a session well, we can consciously consider:
“Is this off of my mind?”
I can then use the prompt to write thoughts as tasks, questions, and the like until it is off of my mind, such that I have effectively created a useful save point.
Gestational Phases of Thought
However, this advice can run contrary to recognizing the importance of keeping thoughts in mind. In other words, what if we occasionally practiced a gestational phase of thought?
For example, Hemingway would deliberately not complete things in a session of work:
“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck.” —Ernest Hemingway
Leaving ideas to churn in mind, at least for me, is a great way to get to those “aha” moments between sessions.
We can even use the same concept within a session of work itself.
Instead of writing things down as soon as they come to mind, I like to hold multiple ideas. That’s where I sometimes find a cross product of ideas creating another interesting concept.
After giving my idea some time, when it more fully forms, that is when I write it down.
It’s not an exercise I do all the time, but when I do, I often find benefit.
PS. As a brief exercise, the next time you have a project you are working on, instead of writing,
2. consider closing your eyes for a moment
3. Try imagining the parts of the project
4. Trying imagining their order or reorder them
It doesn’t have to be long, and doing so may be tougher than you think. But I wonder if you’d find benefit in the attempt. Either way, feel free to hit reply and let me know how it went