Ideas and inspiration can strike at any moment. You may have ideas for a new business, a product or service, or new ways of improving the efficiency of your operations. Regardless of what your ideas are about, if you don't want those ideas to disappear from your memory as fast as they arrived, you need to develop an organized method for recording your ideas when they occur - and another plan for what to do with all of those ideas you generate.
Digital-Based Idea Organization
You've probably discovered it doesn't work to jot down ideas in your mobile phone, laptop, tablet and computer depending on where you are when inspiration strikes - because you have no idea where anything is later when you need to put those ideas into action!
Your best solution is to implement a web based application that you can access from any of your internet-connected gadgets. This way, you can add ideas wherever you are, with whatever devices you happen to have with you at the moment, and they will all be in one, organized place for later retrieval.
You might keep it as simple as using Google Docs, and create folders for each topic you come up with ideas for (advertising, training, products and services, etc). Within each folder, you might then have a document of ideas pertaining to each topic. If you want to save web pages, you can create a spreadsheet of links within each topic and jot down a description or why you have saved that site in your idea bank.
If you are a fan of mind mapping for idea generation, you might like Comapping - an online version that lets you keep track of your ideas and tasks in a single map. You can use it alone or share it with others.
Alternatively, if you like to see your ideas alongside the tasks you're currently working on or the projects you are responsible for - you might try using an all-in-one solution like a web based project management system. There are several on the market, including paid software and free options. WorkZone allows you to set up your entire work responsibilities, personal to do lists, and make use of the popular Gantt charts. Create a project for ideas and keep adding to it - the benefit to this system is you can literally schedule 'due dates' to remind yourself to review ideas and put them into action later so they don't just get recorded and forgotten.
Paper-Based Idea Organization
Many people find a three-ring binder is ideal for keeping their ideas organized. You can quickly jot down ideas as they occur to you, no matter where you are, and slide them into the appropriate section of your binder. You can also print information from a computer and insert into your binder, or rip pages from magazines and newspapers. Office supply stores sell inexpensive dividers that allow you to label each section in your binder. The labels you use will depend on the type of ideas you are organizing, but some examples may be: Advertising Ideas, Increasing Efficiency, Staff Training, New Products/Services, etc. For paper that is the wrong size for 3-hole punches, you can include dividers with pockets, or insert a folder to hold odd-shaped paper.
You might also decide to use the expanding accordion-style folders. If you use these to organize your ideas into the various pockets, it's recommended that you purchase the flexible plastic type rather than the cardboard file folders, as they will hold up longer.
Whichever paper-based organizational method you choose, you will still need to schedule time to review the ideas after they are saved. On your calendar or to-do list, make a date weekly or bi-weekly to review ideas and start putting the best ones into practice.