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Inspiration overload?

It was 4.a.m. when I adjusted my eyes to the darkness to check my watch.  Awake again! But what was it that woke me…ah yes I had a great idea for my business.  I spend some time thinking about the idea and how it might work before drifting back to sleep.

Today I sit at my desk and having completed much of my “must do” work for the day I cast my mind back to this morning.  Now what was that idea again?  I search my brain…and I know it is just there, almost in my grasp but I can’t quite remember.

It probably wouldn’t be so bad if this was the only time I had inspiring ideas and failed to capture or remember them but it isn’t.  My mind is constantly buzzing with ideas.  It might be some new idea I have had for a training course, a blog topic, a twist or new use for some management model, a business generation idea, a solution for a client that I haven’t thought of before, and so on.

It is great that I get all these ideas but the problem is that I hardly ever remember them and therefore I never know how good they were or if I could have used them for mine or someone else’s benefit.  What a waste!

So I have had another thought – I can’t be the only one with this problem, and maybe I can come up with some tips on how to manage those ideas.

  1. Find a method of instantly recording that suits you – people use all sorts of ways to record idea, Leonardo da Vinci was very fond of notebooks but if you prefer use your PDA, email a note to yourself, use a voice recorder, build a word document, excel spreadsheet or whatever. The more accessible it is though, the greater your chances of capturing those really great ideas
  2. Be every ready – once you have a good workable recording method get using it.  Don’t be afraid to jot something down even if you are in the middle of a meeting (it is often the comments of others that lead to our best ideas)
  3. Keep a repository of ideas – even discarded ones are valuable and may benefit you in the future
  4. Use a process like Mind Mapping or Idea Mapping to link and develop ideas (there are numerous free tools or you can learn to do it on paper)
  5. Review and evaluate your ideas regularly – use the “Who, what, where, when, why & how” questions as a starting point to test the validity of your idea
  6. Try it out – there have been a couple of ideas I have been procrastinating over for at least 6 months.  Why? Because I am afraid they won’t work.  But sometimes you just have to try it out and if it doesn’t work out, learn from it and move on

 And why would you do all that.  Well quite simply ideas and creativity lead to development and growth and are a cornerstone of any business, even more so in the current climate. The challenge is in harnessing those ideas and creating an environment in which you allow yourself to be inspired.  Undoubtedly this is a simplistic view of how those ideas might be managed and is only a stepping stone to increasing creativity in your business.

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Jackie Prendergast is a dynamic and focused HR and business professional with over 15 years experience in both public and private sector environments. She is a firm believer in the concept of delivering excellence through, and with people and strongly supports an ethos of continuous learning and development in the achievement of goals. Jackie established her own HR & Management Consulting practice - Consulting Excellence - in 2007. Working primarily with SMEs and private clients Jackie provides a range of HR advice, support and services. She has written a number of articles on C.V. preparation and Interview Skills as well as a short Interview Guide (E-book). She is also a business mentor with Dublin City Enterprise Board’s Mentor Panel. In addition Jackie runs an online network for SMEs (and consultants / service providers operating in that space) on LinkedIn - SME Links Ireland.

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  • Anonymous

    Great post Jackie, I am fiend for waking up in the middle if the night and writing down my thoughts in the notepad that sits beside my bed. Some of my biggest business obstacles have been removed at 3am.

  • Great ideas Jackie, I hope I remember them when I am on the plane later 🙂
    I started using a little notebook when i am out and about, and use the notes section of my phone.
    It’s easy to buy a notebook, it’s remembering to acknowledge that we have the idea in the first place!

    I often dismiss ideas that wander into my head, but I think you are right – they should be written down no matter what!!! You just never know 🙂

    Great post, and great reminders of how to capture those thoughts. Notebook beside the bed can help at night, because they are so deep within our subconscious, the busyness of the day that follows, can cloud those thoughts

  • Good sensible advice Jackie! I enjoyed reading your post. And I agree with Elaine on the fact that having a notebook around to gather those ideas is one thing, but acknowledging the idea and jotting it down is certainly where I fall down by quickly dismissing them as rubbish. But then again, your remarks on testing the idea, before either dismissing it or implementing it, make perfect sense. This thought should go at the very top of my idea list now! 🙂

  • Elaine

    Great Jackie. If I write something down I usually remember it, especially a name. If I don’t write it down I usually forget it. Good starting point here.

  • Good for you Greg!!

  • The problem with dismissing them too quickly is that a) with a little tweaking they could have been great ideas or b) they may have led you to an even better idea! So let the inspiration flow!

  • Would be interesting to hear how that benefits you after a few weeks / months – hopefully it will help you capture a great idea!

  • Thanks – now of course I need to spend more time practising what I preach:-)

  • Great tips Jackie, I think you are so right when you advise finding a method of instantly recording that suits you. There are so many ways you can do this but I tend to find the humble pen and paper the easiest to achieve. Thanks for sharing, another gem of a post 🙂

  • Great tips. I send myself a message on my phone if I don’t have somewhere else to write it down. It is amazing how a few months on an idea can take shape when it’s been left to sow in the dark and a second airing gives it new life.

  • Brilliant post. Ideas and inspiration can hit at any time and you have to make sure they are captured. Like Greg, the 3 a.m. wake-up can often deliver some great ideas – but unless I note them down, I can never remember them. Some are obviously awful in the cold light day – but some, just some are real gems!

  • Isn’t funny we often think we are running out of ideas or inspiration. I think you just reminded us that often that is because we’re not effectively capturing and nurturing it–as it happens. Great post!

  • Anonymous

    Love how you make the process so accessible! Truly it is important to find a personalised system for getting your ideas out of your head. Maybe in the cold light of day, the idea is ridiculous, then again…

    Creativity is much like a muscle. Stifle it with procrastination or editing your ideas too soon and it gets atrophied. Since our markets change, we need this entrepreneurial quality to stay viable and beyond. By using your strategies, nothing gets lost and the ideas are accessible whenever the time is right.

  • I am inclined to agree – some times simple is best!

  • It is a bit like a fermentation process I guess! And I think reviewing your list (or whatever) of ideas regularly will always throw up something different or new. Thanks for the comments Mairead.

  • Thanks Barney. Glad to hear I am not the only one suffering with “Brain rush” at 3 in the morning!!

  • Exactly – as Elaine Rogers said it is about acknowledging the ideas we do have. Once we do that we start to realise that we are all creative in our own way.

  • Amen to that Elli! I never quite thought of it as my procrastination stifling my creativity but you are absolutely right. So here’s to more courage to try out those ideas we already have and wisdom to recognise the next ones that come our way!

  • You know what I love best about this article, is the emphasizing on ‘practical’. As a blogger I find myself constantly in search of inspirations and ideas. What I dread most is to lose them when I had it that very second! I always keep my phone at hand, if I don’t have the pen/paper with me, I’ll record it instead. I’ve tried while composing a song, article to be submitted to local newspaper even silly ideas I could do for my hubby’s birthday. lol.. Not every idea is good but I’ll take #5 as reminder, always: evaluate!

    Well done, Jackie. Love your article!

    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • Thanks Ben, glad you liked them 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Niall,nnThank you for including my webinar! I deeply appreciate your generosity!

  • Martin Lindeskog

    Have you read Grant Thornton’s report on how invoice payment times vary dramatically around the world? 10 years ago, average days for payment of sales invoices in:

    Italy – 83 days

    Ireland – 59 days

    USA – 40 days

    Do you think that this payment pattern has changed 10 years later? Factoring must be a reliable form of getting paid in time at several places around the world.

  • factoring financial services

    Invoice factory are so receiving with different accounting and rangable industries. The obligations suppliers are so traders with factoring retailers.

  • I often get frustrated that people cannot just pay on time. I know there is so much at stake by witholding money, on both sides, but the small business owner is always the one to lose out the most – especially with cash-flow.
    That has a knock-on effect – they don’t get paid, so cannot pay the other small business who provides services, and on and on.
    And we have to pay the big companies up front, or on time! No lee-way. Rant over!

    Andrew, great post and I agree about discounting – I use it to get paid on or before time – improves my cash-flow immensely.
    I enjoyed especially your points 3 and 4, especially for the medium size business or HTSU that is expanding quickly – and finance is desperately needed.

  • LucieM

    . While
    some people my view invoice factoring as an “expensive” form of finance, is
    probably costs the business a lot more to turn away business than it does to
    pay a little extra to borrow money. Factor receivables at a bank

  • karl krueger

    Mainly because there are hardly any alternatives that can enable cash flow so quickly and safely. Sustainability is another big advantage of course.

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