This post is in partnership with Milligram: The good folk at Milligram invited me to choose some things from their shop and write about the ones I most liked, so that is what I am doing! Because STATIONERY is great!
How to capture ideas (and things to do) and make them happen
As the new year dawned, I chose a theme colour. A colour to take me through 2018.
I know. It’s a weird thing to do, as though I think I am some kind of lady Pantone or something (which obviously I am not), but I sort of decided that instead of having resolutions, I would just have a colour theme which is MUCH less stressful and far more of a loose anchor than a prescriptive “better thyself” type thing.
Having a theme colour basically has NO RULES and is an abstract sort of idea that helps you appreciate everyday thing and find connections between them.
I chose green, because, as my 2-year-old friend pointed out, “green means go”. Okay, honestly, I had actually intuitively chosen green prior to him telling me this, but then he noted that it was a very momentum-sparking colour and that seemed GREAT and to make sense.
Last year was not a green year. Last year was more about treading water and not going very far at all. In fact if last year had a colour, which it didn’t, it would have been the colour you get when you mix all your new pots of play dough together. It’s not a good colour, as far as I’m concerned.
But back to green-means-go. I thought I’d write about this action colour and suggest some ways to tie it into your life, in case you are seeking to be more creative and hatch ideas, and also in case you too want more from life than muddy play dough.
I think you DO want that. Yup. Here’s some reminders on how …
1/ Gather tools to write with
Yes, you can just use the biro you found down the back of the couch, but if you choose pens and pencils you LOVE, you are not only going to want to write, you’re going to feel a leeeetle bit fancier as you do it.
I have a bunch of these Lamy fountain pens in various colours, and I particularly like this Blue-Green one because it reminds me of a lagoon. Thinking about lagoons is a good way to loosen up your brain and let ideas in, so I can recommend either this Lamy one, or something that gets you daydreaming a bit. Daydreams are where ideas begin.
Nice tools –> cheerier habits –> getting stuff done / feeling good
If you’re a bit rusty in the idea-getting department, you can tap into Pip’s School For Slumpy Creatives for some free lessons on getting those creative cogs turning again!
2/ Take notes, spill beans, firm up ideas
If you’ve got ideas and things to do floating around in your head, get them out of there and onto paper. Once you’ve captured your thoughts, you can expand on them. I have found the very best way to capture everything, is to take a leaf out of Julia Cameron’s book and spend a little bit of time each day writing down every single thing that is floating about in my head. The most random and frothy of thoughts mingle with the sharpest, and it all gets wrung out of my brain and onto the page.
From there, I can cherry-pick the ones that count and record them in more depth/expand on them OR I can pop them on my To Do list, OR schedule them in my diary.
Some of the things I write down don’t even belong anywhere, as yet. I just leave those ones floating on the page with their more immediately useful friends. I can always return to them later on, but the important thing is to get them down before they disappear.
Not only is this method a good way to gain some creative momentum, it’s a great way to clear your head and move on feeling focused, rather than sitting with stress or overwhelm.
To sum up – get every big and little thing down, then decide what is …
a) DIARY – For the diary, because ongoing/quite important/very important – e.g. spend two hours developing marketing plan or work on novel for 1 hour or go to NGV to see amazing and inspiring exhibition with bestie or spend morning finding out about further study.
b) TO DO – A sloppier, less formal To Do task list featuring more immediate things that have to be done, but don’t really light your fire – e.g. clean toilet, get nit stuff, buy glue.
c) TELL ME MORE – ideas to expand on – e.g. ‘think further about that problem or opportunity’ or ‘consider writing that cookbook’ or ‘radio show???’ or ‘year-long art project? yes/no?’
d) MAYBE LATER – Ideas to park. Stuff that you like, but are not sure what to do with – e.g. ‘home delivered jugs of cocktails!’ or ‘imagine if you made a cake as big as your dog! that looked like your dog! dog cakes could be a good thing?’ or
e) WAIT, WHAT? other weird stuff – e.g. can a fish be friends with a platypus? or ‘investigate puffins’.
3a/ Schedule it – for YOU
Once you’ve narrowed down the things you most want and need to do, pop them in your diary. You don’t have to make a speedy break for the finish line, but at least schedule in some “chipping away” at these tasks on a regular basis over the coming days, weeks or months. Not only does this help to hold you accountable (I shudder at the word, but need to use it here), it also excitingly marks the very first steps towards making idea actual reality.
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a scheduled “chip away at it” date with yourself, but do be sure you simply reschedule that time further down the track (or reassess why you are dragging your heels).
Schedule the important things/your important work in your diary. These are the bigger, more memorable things or the things you want to document progress on.
3b/ And get to work on “your stuff”
As I said, I like to make a messy daily run sheet for myself, which I scrawl on as I get things done. I use my non-neat writing on this, put lines through my daily task list and add general random notes too, so I recommend doing that.
Sometimes you need somewhere you can schedule things neatly AND somewhere you can pull things apart and break things down and scrunch ’em up.
4/ Schedule it – for your FAMILY/HOUSEMATES
Perhaps your ideas and things to do involve other people at your place? Or maybe the people at your place occasionally park themselves between you and your ideas/thing to do, repeatedly asking for an icy pole? I’ve been there. I feel you.
This is where you can communicate what’s going on – in your and their lives – and they can a) be better informed about you and b) pop their own ideas/things to do down, too!
This way everyone is a bit more clued-in and you can see not just commitments, but some actual hopes and dreams scattered amongst the “BIN NIGHT” and the “CAT TO VET” excitement. This is bolstering for all.
Phew! I hope that was a helpful refresher to getting all the good stuff out of your head and on the way to getting done. And perhaps it’s inspired you to give your idea-nurturing and record-keeping a bit of a make-over too!
Thanks for reading! Much love to you!