| David Gane

The Idea List

Back in August, I started doing a daily idea list. This practice is something that I picked up from James Altucher's How to Become an Idea Machine. In the post he talks about how he was at a very low point in his life and this process helped rescue him from the brink:

it saved my life, my career, my friendships, made me better friendships, partners, opportunities, a wife, better relationships with my kids, and oooga-booga (lots of kisses).

I am nowhere near this state, but I was looking for something to reflect on the past and focus on the future, that could be treated as a day-to-day meditative exercise.

The premise of the idea list is quite simple: Write 10 ideas around a theme every day.

I always push myself to come up with all ten and sometimes it’s easy but often times it's a struggle. There are times that I get two or three ideas, but then fight for the next six or seven, and then suddenly spill over and end up with twelve or fourteen ideas.

The types of subjects or themes I consider vary. For example, my first one was on how to reduce spending in the house. Some of my answered were ideas that were always floating in my head, like deleting needless monthly expenses, while others were just ridiculous, like giving up coffee (crazy!).

Other themes have considered activities to do on trips, or how to win at a board game, or how to stay focused on day-to-day activities, or gifts to buy people. I’ve done brainstorming for Counios and Gane here, as well as Swift Flowing, and forced myself to come up with new ideas for books.

I never revisit the ideas afterwards, unless they stick in my head. This staying power usually means the idea has an intrinsic value to me and shows potential merit to proceed.

However, lately, the idea list has been slipping into a more introspective mode. The question I’ve been asking lately are:

  • What are the most important things in my life?
  • Who inspires me the most?
  • What would I most like to change about the world?
  • What are the 10 biggest things I’ve learned in life to date?

Some of these have been easy to answer and some I’ve had to dig deep or think about over the day.

I’m not sure it has made me a better thinker of ideas or brought me all the amazing things that Altucher says has happened to him and others. However, the gentle process of reflection is meditative and a place to visit the days worries or concerns, which has lead to clearer thinking.

If this process is something that interests you, I encourage you to read the link above or Altucher’s FAQ, or ask me any of your questions in the comments.

Leave a comment