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5 Simple Tips for Remembering Brilliant Ideas

Remembering with a String on Your FingerI wonder how many great ideas are lost simply because someone doesn’t remember them later. How many brilliant pieces of music, heart-pounding book plots, or cutting-edge business ideas are forgotten in the daily hustle of our lives? What about new ideas for achieving your life goals? Here are five simple tips for remembering your great ideas:

1) Write them down. Yep, another simple strategy that most of us use too little. Don’t just tell yourself, “I need to remember that.” Get the paper out and make a note of it. Put a pad of paper by your bed for those late night ideas.

2) Buy a voice recorder. This one I am recommending from experience. I carry an Olympus VN-4100 digital recorder with me nearly everywhere I go. It’s great for making quick audio notes. I use it frequently during my daily walks to record ideas I have and work I need to remember to do.  There’s even a PC version that downloads audio onto your computer.

3) Use your voice mail as a audio post-it. Before I bought the recorder, I would call my voice mail at work or home and leave a message for myself. It is a quick and simple way to remember something when there is nothing to write with.

4) Tell someone you are with about the idea. Chances are that the person you tell will not remember the idea and almost definitely won’t remind you. But the value in this tip is that saying the idea out loud will help you to remember it later. When we voice things out loud, the idea or thought makes a stronger impression on our minds. I used this technique when studying in college. Yeah, I looked a bit odd reciting facts while walking to class, but it helped me to remember.

5) Tie a string around your finger. Well, not literally, but the idea is the same. The strategy is to change something in your environment that will prompt you to remember the idea later. The “string around the finger” is to let you know there is something you wanted to remember. Now the key is to make a mental connection between that string and the idea. This is best done through visual association or the link method. Visit for their description of the link method. BTW, I use this method at night when I have an idea. I turn my alarm clock on its side and create a memory link with the idea I have. In the morning I see the clock out of place, and I’m reminded of my idea.

The Memory Book by H. Lorraine and J. LucasI’ve spent many years studying memory and mnemonics and the best book I’ve read on memory improvement is still the classic, The Memory Book, by Harry Lorraine and Jerry Lucas.

So, what tips do you have for remembering those life-changing ideas?

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