A Simple, Effective Way To Boost Your Creativity

Want a quick way to improve your creative output, at work and at home?

Carry a notebook with you at all times.

Carrying a notebook is a habit I’ve fallen into and out of over the years, but I’ve noticed that when I do, my creative output soars. Right now I’m rocking a Moleskine notebook, and I love it. Frankly, you could use scraps of paper instead, but having a notebook makes it way easier to refer back to later.

Why?

Because having a notebook means you can capture ideas as they occur to you, without the risk of forgetting them before capturing them. When you first start this, you’ll be astonished at how many ideas you

Yesterday, on the way to work I jotted down three ideas for blog posts that I had on my 30-minute commute. Today, I took notes on a book I’m currently reading (The Social Customer by Adam Metz).

Cheap, easy to establish and effortless to maintain, but the payoffs are huge.

  • Hey Dave, 

    This is something I think is such a powerful yet simple secret, which is why so few people do it. I was reading Richard Branson’s book business stripped bare and he mentioned that every entrepreneur should carry a notebook. He said simple things he’s taken notes have ended up being the responsible for millions of dollars in additional revenue. Toddy Henry who wrote the book “The Accidental Creative” also mentioned the importance of this in terms of tapping into our creativity.

  • Anything you use to capture creativity is a super useful tool. In the past four months I started using a giant white board in my office. I have made numerous sketches, diagrams and lists on it all of which grown into marketing, software logic and other instruments I use daily now. Having that goto tool and knowing you have it will spur on your flow of ideas.

    Everyone should have tools they use to capture their creativity.

    • Back when I had an office (we’re open-plan at Edelman – another great way to boost creativity), I did the same thing. My whiteboard was critical to my work then!

  • I need to buy bigger Moleskins. Or hook one to my belt like a biker hooks his keys to his pants. I’ve left my million-dollar ideas all over town… never to be seen again.

  • John Russell

    be it tablet, app (evernote) or notebook, always important to jot down ideas the moment they hit you.  Last thing you want is to forget a great idea all because of something preoccuping your time at that particular moment.

  • I tried for a while carrying a notebook. The problem was I never actually used it. I had every intention of using it, and just never did.
    I guess it’s one of those habits that you just need to get into until it becomes something that you just can’t live without doing.
    It’s like me and reminders. I’ve tried a billion different reminder apps. The problem was, I needed something to remind me to put things into my reminder apps.

    • Hey Sheldon – I know exactly what you mean. Maybe you skew more technologically savvy than old school notebooks. I find that I can go that way sometimes for portability and ease-of-use issues.

      In any case, I have a follow up that you and Dave may be interested in. Thanks for getting my gears rolling again, Dave. Sometimes you just need a little conversation to spark some creativity – hey! That’s a good tip!! (SEE?!)

  • I jot things down in Evernote, but the notebook makes it easier to draw pictures.

  • And another little tip is to leave it beside your bed at night! You’d be surprised how much cool stuff you think about at night and then totally forget by the next day!

  • Anonymous

    Dave, your post reminded me of this flick where ideas are written on napkins… and I think that the very best idea of them all is drop dead simple.  I, for one, carry my own notebook as well and it’s pretty useful when a spark of inspiration flies – when you have only a millisecond to capture that thought and your electronic devices are out of reach.  There’s just this feeling of meditation when you jot down notes the old way, like you’re getting in touch with your inner self – something intimate.

  • This is such a fantastic idea, i keep telling myself i need to keep a notebook at hand but i always forget. My creative brain always seems to work at night and when i try remember my idea in the morning it has vanished. Today i am going to buy myself a notebook and keep it in my hand bag. Shall let you know if it works for me.

    • Awesome! Yes, please do let me know how it works out for you.

  • Personally, I save paper and simply email myself with my blackberry and keep a folder for “creative ideas”.  Thoughts?

  • Another great article, I really experienced the difference between having a notebook beside of you. Yah, its really helpful so you won’t miss great ideas. Especially when doing a plans, its really a great help. Taking notes is the great way on how to achieve a best result you want on your plans, design or whatever it is.