Managing your ideas

I was wondering how you guys manage your ideas to design stuff. I mean how you save it for later (but don’t forget about it), and when (if ever) do you take action and design it.

I heard about an upperclassman at CMU who had a tree in his room made of wire, and he would stick post-its onto the “branches”. Every time a post-it fell down, that’s the project he would do.

I wanted to see what other methods people use for recording, storing, and selecting ideas to design (that aren’t a brief/assignment).

Whiteboards, pocket sketch books, large sketch books and sometimes a software tool called “The Brain” that visually maps a lot of links.

I have an ongoing email thread with myself in my gmail account that is also cc’ed to another email account.

The email title is something obscure so that I can quickly pull it up and everything is organized chronologically so it’s easy to navigate.

I tried something like the tree idea once, I’m too messy of a person and move apts. too often to successfully pull it off.

The nice thing about the tree idea that I would like to do with the email is the casual/random reminder aspect to it. If there was some way to set up an email reminder that would randomly resend one of the emails every month or so… then I’d be set.

I’ve recently created a folder where I save ideas as a few images connected to the idea and also name them according to.

I have a little note book in which i scribble down little ideas, thoughts, observations and thumbnails (mostly on the train). I also collect images of items I think define beauty for me.

I write each idea on a new light bulb from a pack of four, and then return the bulb to its package. When a bulb goes out, which ever idea is on the bulb I grab is the one that gets done. Lot less getting done with the florescent bulbs!

I also used to put a note in with each CD in my collection, which ever CD was pulled out, that was the idea to be done. The iPod killed that system.

Nowdays, with no system, I work too much.

@ design61
Cool ideas!

I usually keep a moleskin in my back pocket on a daily basis. It’s funny how many ideas come to you when you aren’t actually in studio working on a project, so it’s always nice to have something to write them down in. I also have folders on my desktop that I use for storing and categorizing inspirational images from sketches to products to architecture, etc.

Thanks for all your input, guys! Some of you got at what I was looking for (choto, bngi, paulgibson, design61), but I think some people misunderstood me (it was hard to phrase my question). I wasn’t talking about how you handle ideas within a project while you’re brainstorming or concepting, but more of day to day ideas for projects you want to do someday. I know most of us keep sketchbooks, but they usually fade away as we move on to a new sketchbook.

Maybe there’s an opportunity here for a product… web app, mobile app, synced with a desktop app. Hmm… this is a new idea, but I don’t know where to put it now :[

I’ve sort of got this thing going on right now: (bottom right)

It’s not working real well. I also write it in my iPod’s notes apps, and I email myself… all of these get lost in the bustle of school.

I use Things to manage my ideas.

Great little program. Use it mainly for my daily To-Do list. Syncs with an App on my Iphone. Can set dates, tags, alarms and reminders for things as well as break down projects into their own steps.

Don’t know what I would do without it.

Not a screen cap of my Things. (At work right now) But here’s a gerneral look at the application.