Developing Your System for Organizing Intangibles

Have you ever been out and about and suddenly thought of a task or idea that you needed to remember?

Keeping tabs on intangibles, like thoughts, ideas, and to-do items, is important in keeping yourself organized. But when you’re away from your home or office, and an idea strikes, it can be difficult to remember it if you don’t have the right tools on hand.

Some intangibles you might need to keep track of include: lists, ideas, to-dos, accomplishments, failures, problems you’re trying to solve, goals and your progress in meeting them, and things you’re learning or want to learn.

Keeping track of these things is something I’ve really struggled with in the past. However, over the years, the following resources have enabled me to create a system that allows me to keep track of intangibles – regardless of where I am.

  1. Note-Capturing Programs

There are several programs out there that are extremely useful for capturing notes and other information, such as to-do lists, ideas and more. These programs allow you to take, update and store notes that can be accessed across all your electronic devices. These programs are also awesome for capturing great ideas you come across on the web because they allow you to save them – and search for them by keywords – so you can find them again later.

  1. Journaling

Keeping a journal – whether it’s digital or paper – is one of the best ways to capture and organize your thoughts and ideas.

Some people prefer paper; some prefer digital methods. I actually recommend a system that includes both so you can capture things quickly – whether you’re online or offline. You can use your electronic devices to capture ideas, but there is something about physically writing and the journaling process that you may miss if you just use digital tools alone to capture your thoughts. Sometimes you may need space to doodle and draw to maximize your creative moments. Other times you may need the speed and efficiency of an electronic tool.

One of my favorite digital journal methods is the Day One app, which allows you to enter thoughts, ideas, etc. via your mobile device. You can capture text, audio, video and images using this application. The information is then backed up in the cloud and accessible from any device you use.

When I need a paper option for quick capture, I always have a pocket-sized journal or notebook with me. I keep my portable journal and pen right next to my smartphone in my all-in-one cross body wristlet wallet so both are always with me. Then when I return to my desk, I can add those items to my digital tools, if appropriate, so everything is easily searchable.

Regardless of which method you choose, keeping a journal enables you to capture your ideas when you have them and keep them organized – and therefore easily accessible – for later use.

  1. Pictures

A camera is an easy-to-use tool for capturing intangibles, and just about every mobile device has one. If you see a brochure or sign you like, take a picture of it. Need to remember to reorder a certain type of furnace filter? Snap a picture. Find a great idea for your next holiday party? Capture it with your phone camera that very moment. A camera is one of the simplest tools for creating visual cues that help you remember just about anything.

I like to sync all of my images from my portable devices to Dropbox.com. This cloud-based storage tool allows me to upload images automatically from my smartphone or camera card to an online folder so everything is backed up and safely stored for future reference. When I’m at my laptop, I can then sort and organize those images into folders with names that mean something to me (e.g. home ideas, food ideas, marketing ideas, etc.) so I can find them easily.

Define Your System

Regardless of whether you choose to employ some of these resources, or find your own, the important thing is to find tools that help you create and maintain a system for capturing information that works for you. Here are some questions you need to answer as you create your custom system:

  1. Where will I record my ideas – digitally and on paper? Identify a preferred tool for both.
  2. How will I access my ideas once captured? (E.g. smartphone app, tablet app, website, notebook, journal, etc.)
  3. How will I move items from my idea list (undated) into my time management system (dated) so they can be handled or completed, as necessary? (Outlook Tasks, project management tool, to-do list apps, etc.)

I encourage you to write out your system on paper and try it for a week or two. If it works, great. If it needs some tweaks, keep reviewing what is and isn’t working well and make the necessary adjustments until you have a custom system that works perfectly for you.

With a custom system in place for capturing the intangibles, your great ideas will be safely recorded until you’re ready to take action on them. Better yet, by getting things out of your head and into a system that you can easily access, you allow your brain more space to solve problems and think creatively about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. In this age of information overload, a system for organizing your intangibles is a recipe for success!

Contact Julie Perrine at AdminSuccess@AllThingsAdmin.com.

By: Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, MBTI Certified, NAPO Virtual Chapter, All Things Admin

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2 thoughts on “Developing Your System for Organizing Intangibles

  1. Nice one Julie!

    I have a notebook in Evernote called “shopping” so I can immediately capture what I need to buy without having to try and remember it for the list back home. And because it’s on my phone, I can check it when I’m out and about to see if there’s anything I can get nearby that I need.

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