An Abundance of Riches

All my life, I’ve been plagued by an onslaught of great ideas. If you know me for any amount of time, you know that this is both a blessing and a curse. An idea falls in my lap, and I get started on the pursuit of that idea, and then while that’s underway, more ideas crop up and they’re interesting…more interesting than the actual execution of the current project. You could say that I subscribe to Shiny Object Syndrome, which is a hallmark of ADD1. One of my big goals has been to really rein in that crap, because it really does nothing but create a lot of frustration/regret/etc.

Rather than build up a bunch of negative emotions about blown opportunities, I’ve been modifying my process, and working on how I handle the so-called “abundance of riches” that happens when I start riffing on interesting stuff. My original plan was to keep an ideas notebook, which was fine, up to a point — the problem there being that I had a hard time with context and value, and things becoming a cluttered mess. I have a pile of Moleskine notebooks that can attest to this, and they need to be gone through to harvest the worthy stuff, and jettison the cruft. In the meantime, I’ve tried a spreadsheet, which was okay for keeping track of certain variables, but didn’t allow for a lot of room for brainstorming or developing ideas.

My Solution

What I’ve settled on is this. Literally this: WordPress. I’ve created a new plugin that I’m calling IdeaFarm, which includes a new content type, new taxonomies, etc. It’s for personal use, and allows me to not only have a name, a huge block of content to describe the idea, but taxonomies that allow me to slap it into a category for the type, tags for description, and a category for context (ie.: if it relates to another idea or project or whatever). Each Idea post also includes variables that I scale from 1-5 to help determine the value — among the variables I track are: financial value, project scope, personal satisfaction (estimated), and a few other things.

It seems to help a great deal, as I end up with a situation in which I can keep track of everything, and it allows me to filter by category and tags. If anyone’s interested, I’m happy to either dump IdeaFarm onto GitHub or submit to the WordPress repository.

Behaviorally Speaking

The other part of my solution has been modifying my thinking about how to best approach all these cool ideas of mine. This has meant that I’ve needed to come to the understanding of a few things:

  1. I have the time left in my life to accomplish a lot of things. A year is a long time, all things considered. That said, it’s also important not to squander the time I do have. ie: Hustle.
  2. I need to make sure that the ideas I chase fit in with my strategy for achieving my life goals. Do they fit my life goals? This helps as a filtering action when I decide what to pursue next. If I have a great idea, I still take note of it — because while it may not be something I’ll chase, it might be future value to something else I conceive of, or it might be an idea that I can gift to someone I know.
  3. I need to remember that execution means “completion” and not “hey I sorta halfway tried.” The value of an idea is zero, unless it’s acted upon. Even if nothing comes of the end result, there’s value in the knowledge gained in the process.

So things, in this regard, have gotten much better. For those of you that are idea prone, how do you handle the influx of ideas?