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Cracking Creativity with Tommy Edison

I'm going to take a slightly different tack on this one. It will focus a little more on personal development. So, bear with me.

One of the world's most creative minds kept extensive handwritten notes. Over 3,500 notebooks were discovered after Thomas Edison's death in 1931. Those notebooks contained a litany of ideas, sketches, and observations. Edison used his notebooks continually to cross-pollinate ideas.

Some of Edison's most significant accomplishments were a result of noting his own massive failures. In Edison's own words, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

For most humans, forgetting is a regular occurrence (this guy included!). In today's digital overload world, our minds are bombarded with thousands of stimuli daily. To remember a quick idea can be a daunting task.

If you aren't already, my suggestion to you is to become a voracious note taker! And don't worry, you won't need 3,500 notebooks. It's the process and strategy that's essential.

Start by finding a pen and a small notepad. Make sure both are compact enough to carry along with you daily. For those that want to go digital, I recommend an Evernote Premium subscription.

Moving forward, keep a pen and notepad (or your digital notebook) with you at all times. When you have an idea, please write it down. If you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, write it down.

Michael Michalko, who wrote Cracking Creativity, offers some Edisonian ideas for organizing written notes:

Write your observations down from daily experiences. Observations can include ideas from meetings, information that you've gained through reading, and brainstorming.

Organize your notes thematically into a set group of categories and subjects. This is where Evernote shines, because you can tag, search, and categorize notes.

After you've established a series of notes, go back to glean additional insight into problems you may encounter.

You might be able to solve your problems by modifying or reinterpreting something you previously experienced. Plus, when you have your ideas written down, you don't need to take the time to remember what you forgot.

Source: Michalko, M. (2001). Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius (Revised ed.). Ten Speed Press. pp. 106-107.

If you're disappointed in the above suggestion, I'd ask you to reconsider. The most extraordinary client successes have come as a result of taking notes and cross-pollinating ideas.

If you can integrate the suggestions above into your daily routine, I promise you it will have a massive positive impact on your life and your pocketbook.