Don’t Waste Ideas

A productive day begins with a productive morning

Afterthoughts: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

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Conventional wisdom has us fooled into thinking that good ideas are a rare sight, if we have one, we should hold it close and protect it. I think this is nonsense, good ideas are a dime a dozen and anyone has the potential to think up something that will change their lives or even the world. Many, however, rarely get to that point because they waste their ideas.

Good ideas are built atop a graveyard of not-so-good ideas. They are the result of a black-box process our subconsciousness carries out by making connections between thoughts. Good ideas, epiphanies if you will, come as a result of this process, given enough time, they percolate and become visible to our consciousness where we can engage with them more tangibly. So the question is then, how can we accelerate or enhance this process?

When we live our life, we feed our subconscious ideas, be they good or bad. Often these inputs are taken in passively whether it is something you read about or heard on the radio. These ideas, by their nature, are fleeting and we often forget them as quickly as we hear of them unless we engage with them in some way. This is where the notion of not wasting ideas comes in. If we come across something interesting enough for us to think in the moment: “This is some good stuff, it can really help me think about this issue I am having.” We need to engage with it, whether through a tweet, writing some notes down, or recording an audio clip to remind us later. Regardless of whether or not we engage with the idea later, this additional step allows the idea to enter our subconsciousness at a higher fidelity.

I have done all of these things, and at least in my case, I have noticed a significant increase in the number of aha moments I have had. Serendipity when it comes to novel and useful ideas have increased many-fold. Don’t waste ideas has become somewhat of a mantra of mine, and I encourage you to experiment with this idea.

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