026: The 4 Benefits of Having an Idea Incubation List [Podcast]

This post is part of a 7-part series on a simple system I use with Evernote to get things done. Take a moment and read part 1: The 4 Essential Rules You Cannot Avoid. and part 2: The Only 2 Essential Roles You Need to Be Successful as a Creative.

One quality of most Creatives is they never run short on ideas. Ideas are exciting. It’s the fun of starting something new. New trails to blaze, new skills to learn, and new worlds to conquer.

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The challenge with living in the land of ideas is you can forget the work in the immediate. The way I overcome this is to have an idea incubation list.

I have a central place inside my Evernote account where all my ideas go to brew. Having them in a trusted place helps me to release them for a bit while I focus on shipping what’s already on my plate.

Since I started an idea incubation list, I have noticed at least 4 benefits.

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1. Some Ideas Have No Merit

While most of us think all of our ideas are great, this just isn’t true. A few of the ideas I record, I will inevitably laugh at later and that’s okay. They sounded great at the time, but after some time passes I realize:

  • I’m not really all that passionate about the idea
  • If I were successful with that idea, I don’t like where I’ll end up.
  • The idea is solid, but not the right fit for me or my audience.

Letting go of our ideas can be hard, but we need to pull ourselves into the future with that idea to determine the best use of our time.

2. Some Ideas Are Before Their Time

We also have ideas that we might call epic ideas. These are big ideas, but a few things need to happen before they can become a reality. That’s why I love to call it my idea incubation list. My ideas are not going there to die. They’re just waiting for the right time.

Sometimes they are waiting for me to grow into the idea. There are still things I need to learn, experience, and grow into before they can become a reality. Having them written down gives me hope, excitement, and anticipation for the future.

3. Some Ideas Are Just Distractions From Doing the Hard Work

Daydreaming is fun and it often feels like progress. If you are not careful, living in the land of ideas can pull you away from your current reality. This is why my idea incubation list also serves as my Avoid At All Costs list (AAAC List).

This is a simple exercise that Warren Buffett created in order to have extreme focus in his business. Carefully select only your top 5 projects from the list and place the rest on your Avoid At All Cost list.

This will help you to avoid the urge of getting distracted with new ideas. It is amazing how this simple process works. If I am excited about an idea that’s not in my top 5 projects, then it pushes me to make room for it by completing my current projects.

4. Some Ideas Need Your Attention Right Now

Narrowing your projects down to just five can also give you incredible focus. I even take focus to the next level by creating a 12 month calendar and establishing the completion dates with my top 5.

Before the idea incubation list, the AAAC list and the top 5 projects, I found myself scattered between too many ideas. This process encourages my creativity while giving me incredible focus to get things done.

Question: How do you handle ideas in your business while maintaining incredible focus? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Interesting in learning more? The above is just a preview of what’s inside the EverFocus for Creatives Course. It’s a course on how you can use Evernote to get tons of stuff done. Click here to preview the entire course outline.

    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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    4 thoughts on “026: The 4 Benefits of Having an Idea Incubation List [Podcast]

    1. Thanks for this series Jonathan! I’ve had Evernote for a while but have struggled with having a systemized way of using it that actually helps me with focus and creativity.