The Ultimate Idea Development Tool

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by Rasmus Rasmussen on June 24, 2010

How much time have you spent researching, downloading and trying out different applications meant to boost your productivity? To help speed things up and organize your ideas? How much of that time was a waste?

I saw this on a Glenlivet label – “Unhurried since 1824″. I have collected (and enjoyed) many single malts but this is the only label that stuck with me. Unhurried implies care and attention. Unhurried implies quality. Unhurrying is an underestimated activity.

When it comes to software applications designed to help develop ideas, brainstorm, mind map and make you productive, they all claim to speed up workflow and make life easier. But I find them limiting or clumsy to use. When working with loose thoughts, raw concepts and ideas, I don’t want to worry about what the software can and can’t do. So, I use a different tool.

I’m talking about pen and paper.

All my projects and ideas begin on a blank sheet somewhere. Typically a journal, but if something needs to come out, I will grab whatever is close by; index cards, napkins or backs of receipts. The handwriting process stimulates my brain in ways that a computer just can’t do. It comes down to speed, or rather lack thereof. It’s unhurrying in action.

The brain has time to think through a sentence from several angles before my hand catches up. By the time the words get down on paper, I have already developed the idea a little further in my head. The handwritten notes come out more precise than anything written on a keyboard. Instead of walking away with just a thought jotted down, I come away with a clearer idea of what I want to do with it.

And I like physically touching the paper it’s written on. It makes the idea feel real. Tangible. Doable. As opposed to forgettable, fleeting and unimportant.

Maybe with multi-touch and more intuitive technology, some day there might be a serious competitor to the pen and paper method. But for now, it’s just not worth the time and frustration trying out app after app (though I did recently purchase Streaks – I’m such a hypocrite, right?).

Nothing beats a scribble and a doodle – I dare anyone to prove me wrong.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Aabacus June 25, 2010 at 2:33 am

Personal solutions to creativity problems are always specific to the individual. Some people MUST write in a leather bound journal. Others require “tools” while others don’t care as long as they are a little tipsy.
I don’t remember who said it but the quote is, “Writing is easy. You just stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Personally I have to be in front of a keyboard. My handwriting is such that it slows me down. Ideas come fast and thick. I can’t get them out of my head before the next piece is rushing to the forefront.
Then…after ten minutes…an hour…a day…they’re all gone.
The trick is to find what allows you to be creative in the most effective way possible. You found yours. I found mine. Not everyone has found theirs.
I think that’s one of the many values of this blog. Showing what people are passionate about, how and why they are inspired and how they communicate that passion to others.


Rasmus Rasmussen June 25, 2010 at 9:33 am

I can write a lot faster (and thus more) on a keyboard as well. But faster is not always better. I would never dream of writing anything substantial (like a novel) by hand, but things like brainstorming just doesn’t work on screen for me.


Eric June 25, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I definitely agree that pen and paper are king when it comes to great ideas. I personally put a lot of ideas down and organize and go over again and again for I’ll be doing an enhanced version of my monthly experience on the blog starting this Monday and got that great idea written down and am still organizing it.

It’s something that allows you time to really get it right and then take action on the computer.

Good tip here, seriously. Easy overlooked and help damn powerful.


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