A business owner may have many new ideas, things he wants to implement, ways to improve the business. Ideas come in from the market, competitors and customers who request additional services. How then to turn them into action?
In addition to all these new ideas, there are already a large number of things on the go, stored in the trusted (task management) system. There may not be time to implement these new ideas straight away.
Enter Evernote, the ultimate library
Evernote can be used to store all these ideas for a later date, for when there is time to implement them.
At what level does an item go?
A thought, a concept, a good idea, an option, a possibility: place into your Evernote library. If it needs analysis: create a task (or a reminder in Evernote) to deepen the plan.
If it’s an actionable item, add to the task manager, but at what level, with what priority?
Not only are there ongoing tasks and activities, but also other ideas waiting. It may not be immediately obvious what priority to give to new thought and how to manage it.
Evaluate new ideas
The first step is to record the concept faithfully, to capture the true spirit of the concept. If you have a great new idea, don’t immediately knock it down or analyse it away by thinking “its not possible” or finding all the reasons why it might be impossible (time, money, it has been done already). Note it down and be positive. Think of and write down the path to implementation, the steps you could take to getting it done.
Over time, you will have lots of ideas noted down, and some may overlap; you may need to put some aside. This sorting and linking phase is where you evaluate each one but also see if it relates to others to build a project to implement several ideas together.
Linking ideas together
Linking items together may give you the idea that you can implement several things as a group. You need then to pull them together into an action plan, something that is coherent (makes sense) is actionable (really) in real life. You need then to find the (financial, material and human) resources to get it done and then plan (sequence) to see a logical, sensible, doable order in which to get things done.
However, you will evaluate and plan more than once; it is a relatively continuous process. Partly because you will continue to think up new things, which you need to evaluate, partly because you need to continually assess the plan to make sure that it is still the best approach.
Continuous improvement cycle
The ball is rolling. You have a plan; ideas are coming in, you are evaluating the new stuff against the existing, skimming off the inappropriate ones.
However, you also need to remain faithful to some long-term goal. Your continuous new ideas generation process may be keeping your business dynamic, but do you have a trajectory?
You need to think about this trajectory. Where is it? Where are things taking you? What are your long-term goals?
GTD asks you to divide your tasks into horizons, into things that you focus on now, projects that are ongoing and longer-term ‘objectives’ or desired outcomes for which you are aiming. If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t go anywhere.
Of course, you may be caught up in the daily doing and not have had the time or the focus to establish goals. But you need to. It will help keep you on track. Its ok to reevaluate these objectives from time to time, but they should be there.
Your actions should be governed not just by tasks but by the idea of where you are going, the long-term plan, the distant horizon.
New ideas may be numerous
It is essential to capture them faithfully (capture the spirit of a pure desire). The evaluation comes later both by linking into the existing set and in evaluating it for feasibility and resource requirements.
The objective is to maintain the coherence of the current plan but also to give yourself the opportunity to have new ideas that you could implement.
Get them down, put them into Evernote, then come back to them later, evaluate them and pull them together into an overall project plan.
Business is about evolving, so whatever ideas you retain, throw away or don’t use, the ideas that you implement will help your business to grow.
Some items may remain unused because the timing was wrong, the resources were not present, you could not see a solution, or perhaps more analysis was required. But you will be able to find these unused items in your library at a later date.