People who create ideas and are able to act on them effectively don’t store them in their head.

The single greatest contribution of David Allen’s GTD productivity system was the admonition and mechanism to stop managing my thoughts, tasks, and schedule in my head. I was relatively unaware that I was doing such. I also didn’t realize how much emotional and mental bandwidth it took up. Furthermore, I didn’t realize how many ideas I had were lost because of my failure to capture them when I had them.

Since then, I’ve learned to have a capture tool at my disposal nearly at all times. When I remember that funny line from a movie, some story from my childhood, I read a great quote in a book or something interesting happens to me—I capture it.

Right then.


I use Evernote to do this, and I’ll talk a bit about it in the next post on productivity. It’s simply amazing. I have Evernote (a free app) on my IPhone, IPad, and Mac. I forward emails directly into Evernote. Those venues all sync with one another so at all times I have my ideas in a searchable format in folders that I tag as I capture them. Evernote will even dictate voice notes I leave for myself and allow me to search pictures for terms in the pictures. Yep, it’s that sweet. Nope, they’re not paying me to say it.

In the old days, if I saw a book I thought I wanted to buy and read. I’d try to remember to buy and read it later. Now, I open Evernote; snap a picture of it, tag it with “books” and it’s logged. It’s not in my head any more. It’s in Evernote and searchable. Whenever I have some money to buy a book, I search “books” and it pulls up the books I’ve wanted to read. You can take the same method and apply it to sermon illustrations, stories, quotes, thoughts, etc.

What does that mean? It means ideas, stories, illustrations, etc. are almost never lost. It also means I always have them with me as long as my phone is with me. The other big pluses are: you’ll be less pre-occupied at home, and have increased mental RAM with which to have more ideas.

Find a way to get it out of your head. It will bless your life and make you more effective.

What tools do you use to keep track of ideas, and how do you use them?