I tried different ways to keep track of ideas. I experiment with a few tools. I started with a simple Word document. I used a simple template and entered the idea. It had five fields:
– A name
– A brief description
– Inspired By
I kept this up for a while. It worked fine. Then I found a personal wiki. I started entering list of ideas in a table format. I made a slight change. I would make the idea name a WikiWord (a wiki word is two words collapsed together, both capitalized). If you know about how wikis work, a WikiWord form a new page link and I can enter more information about ideas there.
More recently I switched back to using Outlook. I create a special folder and post to that folder. One of the nice things about Outlook is that you can insert items (email messages, files, calendar items etc.). I will try this for a while and see how it works out. Here are the reasons I use as an IdeaLog.
- Since it is my default email client, it is always open. So entering an idea is as easy as switching to Outlook and making a post in a special folder.
- Some of my ideas originate from the email I receive or something I read in a mailing list. I can simply link to this item using the Insert Item capability of outlook.
- I can assign tags to my idea using a Categories capability associated with every new post.
- I can easily mail an idea to my colleagues and it becomes the start of a discussion thread
- Ideas get archived along with my email. So I do not have to back up yet another file or folder
- I can schedule some time to think about some of the ideas using the calendar capability. All I need to do is to drag the idea, drop it on a calendar and set some time.
- I can set up reminders to take the next steps using the Task Manager in Outlook.
The real power in Outlook is the integration of all these capabilities. While I also use Yahoo Mail and Gmail, I do not find them as convenient (since they are not available when I am disconnected from the internet).
I just wish Outlook would support WikiWords ( introduce a page type called WikiPage in the setup). Life would be more fun. May be in Outlook 2007.