Still reinventing the wheel?

Today I’m borrowing a quote from Mark Twain

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

I love being an accountant and working with lots of different businesses within lots of different industries. This, along with running my own businesses (an Minerva Accountants and a speaking/coaching business) gives me a wealth of practical ideas for business improvements as well as all the books I read.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Like wildlife on a safari

I love what I do but I also like to spend quiet time away from my business. This is the life part of my work-life balance. Now that my kids are older it provides time for enjoyment and also for rest so that I am refreshed when I get back into work.

We can all benefit from some quiet time in our lives.

I was fortunate to spend my honeymoon on safari in Kenya. As we waited quietly by a waterhole the wildlife drifted into view and we were lucky to see all of the ‘big five’ animals: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses, and African buffalo as well as some gentler giraffes and zebra.

At home, when I take time to wait quietly or, more normally for me, to walk or run gently, I am rewarded by ideas.

How often do you get away from your desk to get fresh ideas?

How do you capture good ideas?

I am so annoyed with myself!

Last night I woke up with a brilliant idea for this article but I failed to make a note. Not surprisingly I had forgotten it by the time I woke up properly this morning.

I have the memory of a flip flop (or a thong as my Aussie friends call them which can lead to some misunderstanding). Usually when I have an idea I make a note on my phone so that I can then make sense of it when I’m properly awake. Or I make a voice note if I’m driving.

I don’t just keep ideas for articles, I also keep ideas of projects that I think will drive my businesses forward so I also keep a folder of ideas amongst my other documents. Far too many of these are on Excel as that’s my app of choice as an accountant but it doesn’t really matter as long as they’re out of my brain and stored somewhere reliable. I also used to keep a box file of paper ideas and a folder full of photos or screen shots that I want to think about properly.

Once a year I spend a couple of days pulling around 12 business improvement projects together by wading through my random notes. I then implement these throughout the year. This means that I have separate times for ideas, deep thinking, and implementing my plans.

How do you capture your ideas until you’re ready do turn them into projects?