I suffer from having too many ideas and am constantly bombarded by my own subconscious that drops stuff on me unexpectedly...
My problem is that I need to capture all these ideas very quickly and easily as I forget them quickly. As a rule, if I don't document the idea within the first 90 minutes of thinking it up, I'll forget it and won't be able to recall anything besides that momentary feeling of excitement...
Currently I have media wiki installed on one of my domain names, but I find it is still a struggle to group/categorize, and review everything. There have to be better tools out there for documenting raw ideas and refining them to the point of having a workable business plan... I just don't know of any!
I should note that ideas range from financial, software, online media, gaming, manufacturing, etc. There is no commonality between them, so while I desperately need better organization, it can't be too conforming to a particular industry.
For the ideas that just pop up:
I bought one of the small moleskin notebooks, the one that fits in your jean back pocket. I carry it wherever I go. If an idea comes up, I write it down. It has come in very handy (I am on my second one so far).
Side Note: I bought the graph paper one just in case I need to draw or design something.
If you have tons of ideas and need a reorganization, you can try Freemind. It's a free mindmapping software. Not bad imo.
I've tried many options as well; for me the important thing is to be able to write down the idea immediately, and I don't always have the laptop with me.
In the past I used Evernote a lot, now I prefer SimpleNote. SimpleNote is (like the name says) a simple notepad that works with many mobile phones and has also a web interface. So I can just write down my idea quickly on my Android phone, and review it later on the iPad or PC.
This is how i do it:
1. I organize my projects by folder on my desktop, when i see an image, link, document, pdf or anything related i place it in the folder. I try to organize the folder into categories like competitors, features, marketing, development, research etc.
Everyone has a different method so find what works for you.
Some good tools to have:
MSFT Expression (great for sketchups)
Mindmap from Mindjet.. it's not free, but it is the best mind-mapping software out there, IMHO.
http://www.mindjet.com/ I find that sending emails and jotting notes down does not really help with brainstorming... it helps with reminders (also Todo, Tasks, etc)... but actual brainstorming, where you can break up problem into smaller pieces, capture all the possibilities, move ideas and actionable items around, etc.. that is slightly more sophisticated and I think is perfect for mind-mapping software to handle
I agree, if you haven't read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, you should give it a try. It's amazing. Then, i also suggest you try mind mapping. There are some great software programs out there. If you have full Office, you can keep stuff in OneNote - I have client details, passwords, hosting data from years and years ago in my OneNote. I had a client call me after not working with me for 4 years and he was shocked that within seconds I was quoting him all his passwords that he had forgotten. If you have an iPad, try the free Dragon app which transcribes your voice recordings extremely accurately. You can then save those to Evernote or you might also try Producteev.com
I like MindMeister. It's easy, simple, and gets to the point. You can type in whatever pops in your head, it helps you organize the branches related to the main idea, and you can add as many branches as you want to each one.
I also recommend the book Unfolding the Napkin. It helped me organize my ideas, and changed the way I approach problem solving and and helps me "unfold" my ideas nicely.
Below is an e-mail I received from MindMeister with some free premium codes. Read below.
2 free Premium months for yourself + 2 free Premium months for 5 friends = 12 free Premium months
That's pretty generous, isn't it? Well it's not all that selfless, of course we want as many active users as possible, because a platform like ours lives from its users. But enough about us, here are your licenses:
Your license code: 739954901d8uz7c7c5
License codes for your friends: 695850ia1d8uu299b7
You can redeem license codes on Basic or Premium accounts, one code per person. To give codes to friends just send them an email with their code and a link to the redeem instructions [http://www.mindmeister.com/how-to-redeem ].
So what can you do with MindMeister?
Maybe you just needed some ideas what you can use MindMeister for? Hundreds of thousands of users have added over 10 million ideas in MindMeister, creating mind maps for such varied things as personal todo lists, meeting minutes, project plans, or just some simple holiday planning.
Here are a few sample public maps from our users that might interest you and get you started mind mapping online:
Hope to meet you soon online,
* Best Online Collaboration Tools by Robin Good
* Twitter Revenue Model by Rohit Nallapeta
* What is happiness? by Marit Kalda
* The future of blogging (WikiMap)
* Travel plan to Japan (in French)
I have found Balsamiq to be quick enough to capture ideas. I often use it to jot down the outline, then as the idea takes shape, I can easily move aspects of the idea from the original outline to the mockup. There are objects in there that are basically multiline text boxes for paragraphs of explanation, grid controls for data table schema, and multiline buttons that work great for diagramming the flow. Since as the idea progresses, I end up using Balsamiq anyway, having the original notes in there helps quite a bit.
I love MindGenius, mind mapping software. It's really quick and very intuitive so it lets me concentrate on the ideas.
I keep a unlined A4 sized notebook on my current startup and all my ideas and thinking go into that including mind maps, sketches, analysis etc. It works for me because everything is in one place. All I need to do to start work is to open my notebook. (Also, I use colour to help organise my ideas.)
All of the above are great ideas, I might use some of them if my method stops being sufficient and useful enough.
I just send an email to myself... I sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org and then I have a label setup in Gmail for all email being sent to this address, so it is filtered and organized.
I check all the messages under this label a couple of times a week, it works pretty well, it is always amazing to find all the stuff that you thought of but have already forget about it... I like this solution because it is simple, I can do it using my laptop, PC, kinddle, and phone.
Thanks for everyone's responses, but I've actually bought in to an idea presented at teamlab.com. Turns out they have a slick combination of blogging, wiki, and project management that is all tied into organizational groups. I've been told to expect group-based permissions in an upcoming release, which will allow me to grant limited access to my workspaces to others (for collaboration).
I know this might sound crazy, but Google Wave is actually a good place for getting that type of stuff done. There are some extensions for brainstorming and tracking tasks, which look pretty nice. There are also the built-in brainstorming & task tracking tools (below).