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Jul 15, 2019 22:51:18

The practice of keeping an ideas notebook

by @jasonleow | 531 words | 314🔥 | 352💌

Jason Leow

Current day streak: 314🔥
Total posts: 352💌
Total words: 167502 (670 pages 📄)

Parent post: Ideas Gen

@seunoyebode mentioned about keeping up a regular practice of generating ideas for possible products to create (as part of being an entrepreneur), and we got talking about our own practices.

I had been keeping a "Pains & Frustrations Idea Journal" for about a year now. It's the one place where I log painful and frustrating moments that I encounter when using products and services. It's been fun and useful, because at least I have somewhere for it now, whereas previously it used to be everywhere - in emails, notes app, different reader apps, etc. And definitely cathartic, because writing down these frustrations is like venting. When I develop an idea around the frustration, it also confers a sense of control to the situation, that I can do something about it (now or at least future). So far I had made a grand total of... ONE product from the list, and in process of starting on another one. So it's paid off (somewhat)!  

How I go about my practice of idea journalling:

Inspiration sources
  1. Pains/frustrations I experience with products and services
  2. Twitter hashtag #requestforstartups or #requestforproducts
  3. Ideas I get from forums like Product Hunt, Indie Hackers, reddit.

What to write about
I first talk about the problem, the background context and my painpoints. I have some prompter questions on the first page of the notebook to help me think through:
  • Pain level: How much pain is this problem causing me?
  • Frequency: How frequently am I dealing with this problem?
  • Popularity: How many others is this problem impacting?
  • Value: How likely am I to pay someone to solve this problem?
You can quantify it on a scale of 1 to 10 if you like, or just write anecdotally about it. After I elucidate the problem, I write down what the idea looks like, broadly. I try to keep it one page, one problem-idea. Cross it out with "DONE" if you did end up making it. 

No filtering
It's a very mixed bag of dumb and interesting ideas, and sometimes dumb ideas become interesting too, at a later time. I don't filter when writing, so everything goes in so that I can relook at old ideas with fresh eyes each time.

How often
I do this whenever I bump up against a painful or frustrating moment using a product or service. I try to flip through it every month or so, and try to add ideas as much as I can.

Tools
I use a Field Notes memo book for my ideas. It's expensive compared to the generic ones you can get from a typical bookstore, but I love the product back story, and their dedication and creativity that they bring to their craft. Every season (spring, summer, autumn, winter) they release a new design, and I buy the ones I like. I enjoy the small, passport size of it - with the size gives it a kind of affordance and semiotics, a sense of taking notes when out in the field, while on the go. I find that gels well with the on-the-go nature of ideas journalling. 

  • 1

    @jasonleow Really impressive!
    I'm in the forth week of self-journal, and want to try more specific creative ways.
    Thanks for showing a key to open more doors for more impossibilities.

    5plus6 avatar 5plus6 | Jul 16, 2019 00:17:29
    • 1

      @5plus6 glad it's useful for you too. Let me know how it goes! :)

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jul 16, 2019 22:39:38
    • 1

      @jasonleow Surely I will, like my meditation experience :D

      5plus6 avatar 5plus6 | Jul 17, 2019 22:49:46
  • 1

    @jasonleow I like the idea and how you've developed it into a fleshed out process that can/does yield results. The discipline to keep it going though, that's even more admirable.

    Gabriel Greco avatar Gabriel Greco | Jul 15, 2019 18:08:08
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