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Please Put Down That Idea Notebook

Black notebook labeled "Write Ideas" on a table next to a pencil.

What a great idea!

I came across a short video on social media the other day – you know, one of those “life hack” videos. Who knew there are so many fun, quirky ideas to organize an office?

Part of me wanted to drop everything and reorganize my office in this ingenious way. But before I did, I took a minute to stop and consider what I was about to do. Would spending three hours rearranging my office really do anything for my business?

It’s not only social media – there are blogs, YouTube channels, discussion boards, podcasts, books…so many incredible resources for ideas and fresh perspectives. There are millions and millions of good ideas in the world, and thanks to the Internet, we can discover more every day. With so many ideas, that should mean there is something for everyone, right? Unfortunately not.

Because finding good ideas is not the challenge – implementing them is.

So before you charge into a frenzied, late-night attempt to start your next big project, let’s talk about some simple ways to evaluate whether the idea is a good use of your time.

1. Think small

Large, overwhelming projects require high up-front time (and possibly financial) commitments. You’ll have to think ahead, make room in your schedule, and force yourself to stick with your plan. Depending on the scale of the project, that could throw other areas of your life into temporary chaos.

If the project doesn’t get completed, you’ll feel frustrated and guilty.

Projects doable in 30-60 minutes are best – just enough time to make an impact without disrupting your life.

For example, it may be tempting to try to sort through all the family photos after seeing a fun project idea online, but framing or displaying just a few favorite photos is another option to achieve the same effect with much lower stress.

And, if you love how the project turned out, you can always add to it later when you have more time.

2. Look for high impact

Some projects require a lot of effort, but produce only modest results. When you come across a great idea, it’s helpful to ask yourself how much difference it will make in the long run. Will the results still make you happy and improve your life in a week? A month? A year?

Sure, it’s a great idea to repaint a wall in your office your favorite color. But organizing a cluttered workspace may be faster and more useful in the long run.

3. Live your own life

Not every great idea works for every person. And that’s OK!

Focus on your own life, your own unique challenges, and what works for you. It seems obvious, but it is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty if a great idea doesn’t work out for us.

You know those websites and blogs that optimistically claim their solutions work for everyone? That’s just not realistic. Don’t send yourself into a guilty spiral worrying why that new meal prep or journaling method didn’t change your life.

Understanding your goals and the steps to reach them is a very individual process. That’s why I never tell my coaching clients what to do – I help them discover their own conclusions.

4. Focus on the why

Before you dive headfirst into a creative project, take a moment to identify why it’s so appealing.

Above all: will your time be well spent? Can you adapt and downscale the concept to address a long-standing issue?

Using fun ideas as a vehicle to tackle underlying concerns will always make more of an impact than focusing on the superficial.

Idea overload

One of my clients, Yvonne, has several small children and is struggling to keep her house as organized as she would like. Because she works from home, it’s essential for her to be productive in her space without getting overwhelmed. She dreams of living in a house where she can find everything, and feels as though a better organization system would help reduce stress for her growing family.

Before we started coaching, she was constantly discovering fresh ideas to improve her home and office. She would write them on lists and post those lists everywhere. On the fridge, on her desk, on the computer…everywhere she turned were constant reminders of all the good ideas she hadn’t followed through on.

“It would take me a lifetime to work them all off”, Yvonne told me.

When Yvonne began working with me, we focused on getting to the root of the issue and prioritizing. Once she had critically evaluated and condensed all the ideas, she felt much more in control of her life.

Her home may not look like a magazine cover, but she’s OK with that now. She’s taking on achievable projects little by little, gradually toward a home environment that feels both organized and comfortable for her family.


Compulsively finding fresh new ideas is like impulse shopping – it feels great in the moment, but won’t help you much in the long run!

Rather than hoarding lists of unachievable ideas, ask yourself why each idea is so attractive. By all means adapt ideas to solve underlying problems, but make sure you are choosing ideas that will work with your life – not someone else’s.

Want some help prioritizing all those great ideas? Schedule a FREE 30-minute informational coaching session now.

*Names have been changed for confidentiality

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1 Comment

  1. […] written before on why it's a good idea to be selective about new ideas you attempt. This is absolutely the case when it comes to your productivity […]

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