How To Focus On Your Goals When Your Mind Is Busy With Bright Ideas

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Focus. 

I've always been pretty bad at it. 

As a child, I wanted to be a singer, but then my parents told me doctors make a ton of money. It didn't take long for me to stop emulating Beyonce and practicing dance moves in the mirror to pursue the loooooong road of doctor-ing. 

I didn't make it to far down that road though.

Once I read an article on Business Insider that Data Scientist was the sexiest job of the 20th century, I  hopped on the bandwagon. (That is the real story of how I started my career in analytics.)

The distraction party doesn't end there.

When I started this blog, I started working on writing a book and then I heard that affiliate links were more profitable - so I bought an affiliate links course (obviously). After working on my affiliate links for about a month, I decided that I should really be focusing on online courses so I left my affiliate links by the wayside to try creating online courses. (Clearly, shiny objects are my kryptonite.)

I was so busy chasing new ideas that I never got anything done. 

Related: How To Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome and Get Laser Focused On Your Goals

Do you ever feel like your mind is always coming up with new ideas? And when that happens, you must drop what you're doing to try them?

Over my first year of blogging, I found a way to keep track all of my wonderful ideas while still staying on track with my goals by putting my new ideas into my Idea Parking Lot

 

What is an idea parking lot? 

An idea parking lot is a physical location to put all of the random + brilliant + brand-spanking-new ideas. You can jot your ideas down in a journal, a notepad or electronically on your phone or even in a word document. 

 

How To Create Your Idea Parking Lot

Choose a place to keep ideas

Most people already have a place that they keep their random notes. I've seen everything from a paper notebook to the notepad in your phone. I prefer to use Evernote for my ideas. 

Evernote allows you to create virtual notebooks and you can create as many notes as you want within the notebooks.

On any given day, I can come up with an idea for a new career entirely. I'd think about the name of the website I'd build, the books I'd eventually write down to the chapters that would be in the books.

Evernote is the best place I've found for those vivid ideas that transform right in front of you because you can create several notes and then order them within your notebooks by common themes. 

 

Create your first note

To get started, create one note called Parking Lot. Do this right away so you already have somewhere to put your next bright idea.

 

write down (or type) all of your ideas - big or small

When you write down your ideas make sure you give yourself enough information so that if you come back to it and look at your ideas a year later they will make sense. 

Instead of writing "start money blog ", write down "start money blog where I tell the story of my student loan debt pay off." By writing it this way, you'll remember exactly what you were thinking when you originally wrote the note. 

 

Come Back To It Later

The best thing about having a parking lot of ideas is that you CAN come to it later if you want to.

At the beginning of each year, when I'm creating my vision board and thinking about what I want my new year to look like, I always take a look back at my parking lot.  I look to see if there was something I wrote down that I really want to do in the upcoming year. 

Related: Why Vision Boards Work and Why You Must Create One

You may be surprised that some of the ideas you had are no longer relevant to you. You may realize that the idea you were working on was perfect and you don't need those ideas anymore. On the other hand, you might see that one of your goals is exactly what you need. :) 

 

Why Do You Need An Idea Parking Lot?

The book Getting Things Done (literally the only productivity book you need in life) has one common theme: Get your ideas out of your head and save them somewhere.

The Idea Parking Lot is my rendition on this wise advice. 

 

Never lose Your bright ideas

The basis of the parking lot is that you can capture your ideas without having them distract you from what you're currently doing.

That means if you're in the middle of working on one goal (say, starting a blog) and you get hit by an idea for another blog that feels so amazing that you want to get started on it right away, you can write that idea down in your parking lot. 

 

Keep track of the minor details

You can go into as much or as little detail as you want on your new idea in your parking lot.

For example, imagine you have a vivid mental picture of what your new blog is going to look like. You can write down what blog posts you're going to write, what the name will be, what brand colors you want to use, how you're going to monetize it and what tools you plan on using for it.

 

build on it over time

When new ideas come to mind that can supplement your idea, you can continue to add to your parking lot note on that topic. This helps your small idea become more clear and more actionable without ever leaving your goals.

 

Add Some Space.

Have you ever bought a cute shirt at the mall and then got home and realized you really didn't need a new shirt? You only bought it because it was super cute on the mannequin or it was on sale. 

It happens all the time. Experts recommend waiting a day or two before you purchase something to see if you really want it. If after two days you still want the shirt, it's probably a good idea to buy.

Having an idea parking lot allows you to put that same distance between your excitement and your commitment. 

We get super excited about trying them out that we don't consider the fact that we may not even need the new idea at all. Writing your new idea down and leaving it in your parking lot gives you time to think about whether or not you really need it. 

 

Stay Focused On The Present

The best thing about the idea parking lot is that you never have to leave the goal that you're currently working on to chase a brand new shiny object. You can complete your current project AND still have your new idea waiting for you (with as much detail as you want) should you need it. 

 

Having an idea parking lot might be the key to your problems. You can stay focused on the goals you're currently working on while holding on to all the ideas in your head. 

Happy Dreaming! 

xoxo 

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