Long before the word “smartphone” was coined, I had several iterations of PDAs, and I remember my to-do list application on each one was always ultra important to me. My need to keep track of all my actions and ideas didn’t end there. In looking back through my journals to find entries for my blog series This Date In My History, I realize how often I wrote a to-do list.
These to-dos were all related to some aspect of my voiceover business.
Oh, I had to-do lists on my day job, too. However, someone else usually set the priority of the projects on those to-do lists. As a network and email administrator, I often would be working on a project that would get sidelined by a user support call. I rarely wrote about those actions in my journals. I knew they would always be waiting for me the next day. Creative ideas that held the possibility of moving us forward couldn’t be implemented without committee meetings, testing, and managerial approval. They became a project.
Actions for my voice-over business could be individual tasks or pieces that form a major project. I’ve always had great ideas that I wanted to implement, as well as time-sensitive actions to take, like auditions, sessions, software updates, invoicing, correspondence…. You see how easy it is to get in list mode?
The problem with these to-do lists is that they quickly became unwieldy. I began to have paralysis by analysis. I would have so many things that I COULD DO competing with things I SHOULD DO that I would find it difficult to pick something to start on.
I tried labeling each action as A, B, or C in priority, with the As being the things that must be done and the Cs being the ideas I wanted to capture and do sometime. I found that I usually didn’t need to write the As because they tended to be in the time-sensitive, mission-critical category of things to do. It was hard to assign something as a B. The Cs ended up being things I never got to. My journals are littered with fantastic ideas that I didn’t pursue.
As an example, my 2006 journal starts with a collage I made about creating a podcast. The word podcast was added to the dictionary in 2005, and I intended to be one of the frontrunners in creating a show. I started by writing lists (yes, list mode again!) of topic ideas because I didn’t want to start a podcast and then run out of steam after 3 episodes.
For what it’s worth, I had the same sort of worry before starting this blog. I decided I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to post on any schedule or only on certain topics. What freedom to just write something when I have something to say!
Although I gave myself this permission to write when the muse spoke, I found that the muse would often speak to me at a time when I couldn’t do anything about it. What did I do? You guessed it — added the idea to my to-do list. Even today, I add ideas for blog posts to an Evernote notebook. Unfortunately, like my podcast idea, many of them go in the folder and are forgotten.
The podcast idea was actually a recurring one, so let’s fast forward to 2011 when I attended Faffcon2 in Atlanta. Five years had passed since I first had the idea about creating a podcast, yet I was no closer to creating one. I was completely thrilled when someone suggested we collaborate on a series that could have endless, easy-to-create episodes. This idea could be IT!
After we parted company at Faffcon, we had several calls to firm up the plan. I immediately bought some new equipment that I would need to accomplish my part. Due to other demands like my day job, some time passed before I could test the equipment. By the summer of 2011, my collaborator and I both had our plates overflowing with other, more pressing things. The idea that so completely captivated me when I heard it eventually fizzled out to nothing, and I’ve since sold that piece of equipment.
Eight years have passed since I first decided to create a podcast, yet I still haven’t done it.
Which brings me to my first tip…
Ideas Love Speed
I’ve always heard the old saying “the early bird gets the worm.” It was proven to me when I used to sell a lot of my Barry Manilow collectibles on eBay. I noticed that the first seller who posted a unique item was usually the one to get the most money for it. Nike’s slogan of Just Do It is based on the premise that ideas love speed.
I recently listened to a program from Dr. Joe Vitale in which he explained the reasons why ideas love speed:
1) The idea comes with passion and excitement. That energy is available to use only if you act THEN. Use that energy to help propel you to get it done. When I look at the podcast collaboration idea in 2011, I see the truth of this statement. The further away we got from the original idea, the less inclined we were to implement it.
2) The Divine gave you this idea as a gift. You are honoring the idea to take action. Doing so comes with a blessing. He even said, as I observed with my eBay listings, the first one to act on an idea is usually the one to profit from it the most.
3) The Divine gives the idea to more than 1 person at a time, knowing that most of them won’t act on it. How many times have you had and ignored an idea, only to later see it implemented by and making money for someone else?
4) The more you act on and honor ideas, the more ideas you get.
Take-away straight from Dr. Vitale:
Act on the next idea that comes to you. Write it down and take action on it.
Act on Ideas That Wake You Up
I’ve read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s books and watched and listened to his programs. One quote that he often repeated was from Rumi:
The morning breeze has secrets
Don’t go back to sleep
I started writing this post around 5AM on a winter morning where it’s 30 degrees outside. Believe me, I really wanted to stay in my warm bed and go back to sleep, but I kept thinking about this post. If I’m going to think about it, I might as well get up and write it, especially since I’m guaranteed to have no interruptions.
And now it’s done before sunrise! Anything else I do today is just a bonus! 🙂
This was so inspiring & so true!!! I’ve let so many dreams go by. Thank you for your truth & wisdom.
Karen Commins says
Hi, Sandy! Thanks for the nice note.
I’ve found that dreams may SEEM to go by us, but when something is meant for us, the opportunity for it will come in our lives again.
If we implement as many creative ideas as possible, we greatly increase our chances of being in the right time and place when the opportunity and ability to pursue our dream re-appears. We also have to stay focused on WHAT we want, not HOW it will show up.
Stay encouraged, and keep taking baby steps toward what you want. When those ideas come, take action!
Kimberly Dauber says
Thanks for the great article – you’ve done a great job of articulating how to Get Things Done ™, and how to not feel ashamed of not executing all the ideas we come up with. I love it 🙂
Karen Commins says
Hi, Kimberly! Thanks for the kind words!
Having lots of creative ideas and finding ways to execute them makes our lives rich and full. I’m glad you found the info useful.