Being a creative person I often have ideas for new businesses, software, or other great things to create. On one hand this is a good thing, because I never have a shortage of products to work on, but in practice new ideas can be distracting from what I really should be focused on. I have two software products, a design business,
a full time job, and a family. Staying focused is critical to my business success and nothing is more toxic than new, distracting ideas.
So what do to do when inspiration strikes?
Confront it head on. Stop what you are doing (if possible) and spend 15-20 minutes writing down and planning out the idea. For me this usually means getting a sketchpad and drawing out the different screens of the interface, writing down feature lists and planning a name. Everything that comes to mind I put on paper.
You know when you are trying hard not to forget something it becomes the only thing you think about? That’s why it is so important to put this idea on paper. You no longer have to concentrate on not forgetting.
Once the allotted brainstorming time is up I close my notebook, stick it back in my desk, and forget about it. I still have the idea available if I want to revisit it, but it is no longer clouding my thoughts and focus. From there I can resume my previous task with a renewed focus.
This blog post is actually a perfect example. I was distracted from the design at hand by the ideas above (ironic, I know), so I took a short break, wrote the post, and now I can move on. So, now it is time to go back to Photoshop.