Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.



Yep, I just made up a word. Thoughtcatchers. One of the reasons creating content for this blog has been so easy is that I have leveraged a variety of tools I consider thoughtcatchers. Utilities that are almost always available to me to capture and contain ideas, observations, and epiphanies before the fly away.  If you are like me, your brilliant thoughts come in batches. I have “idea bursts.”  Most of the time these happen during a run, a swim, a long walk, or an inspiring moment. I’ve learned to be ready, and you can leverage these tools as well.

Here are my favorite tools and tricks:




I could not live without Evernote. If you’re  not familiar with it, it is an app that you can run on your desktop, your smartphone, your iPad, and even on any web browser that allows you to collect notes, thoughts, voice recordings, photos, and more.  Mine is setup in folders with a default folder that catches anything not able to be categorized.  The most common use for me is from my iPhone on a run when I have to stop and type some thoughts on a blog post, a to do list, or someone I need to contact to share/explore an idea with. I also use it extensively at conferences and in meetings to take notes, create action items and more. It’s become the third most used app for me, just behind Outlook and Chrome.

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation

Living in the burbs, or what Atlantans not-so-fondly refer to as OTP (outside-the-perimeter), I get the pleasure of spending a good bit of time in the car. Sometimes I may sneak out Evernote and jot down an idea when I’m stopped at the stop light (Your Honor). But occasionally, the idea is too long to try and type quickly, so I pull up Dragon. Its amazing voice recognition software just types out what I say. Very nifty way to grab thoughts, especially when you want them worded a specific way.

WordPress Publish Scheduling
Wordpress Schedule Posts I hope I’m not bursting any bubbles here, but I’m actually not disciplined enough to regularly create blog content each week.  I’ve learned about myself that I must accept that my creativity (and time availability) will come and go in bursts. I have to figure out how to leverage the bursts. I was delighted to be explained in the very beginning of my blogging endeavor that I can schedule posts to go out whenever I want. So I usually try and batch out 3-5 posts at a time and make sure I stay a week or so ahead of the clock. Of course I move things around when something pressing comes up that I can write about, but it’s a very energy efficient way to appear disciplined. :)

I leave pretty long voicemails. It’s because when I set aside time to make a phone call to someone, my mind is engaged on the topic to discuss. I don’t want to let that go by leaving a “Hey call me back” voicemail. When they call back, I will certainly be bursting on another topic, idea, or project and probably won’t have a clue what it was I wanted to share. Because of this, I like to leave as much content as I can in the voicemail, again, this is because I know my mind is in a burst, and it may not be later. This may go against all the best practices of voicemail and phone etiquette but it’s just the way I am.

Something Called Paper
Yes, I even keep a paper notebook. Yes, I even use it all the time. Boring. Enough about that nonsense.

One more point, and this isn’t a tool, it’s a tip. Once you learn to capture all your “brilliant” ideas in the moment. You’ll find that {gasp!} sometimes when you come out of the moment: {deep breath} – they aren’t quite as brilliant as they seemed at the time. Sometimes they may be the dumbest idea you’ve ever heard and you are embarrassed that you even took the time to capture that thought. That’s ok!! You won’t have a chance to leverage that moment of creativity if it slips away. It’s better to write it down and trash it than let it slip away.

Hope you learned something useful here.

What else do you do to capture your thoughts? Tips? Tricks?

Tools? I’m always willing to try new things if you have suggestions.


Category: Efficiency
  • Kat Wilson says:

    I often send myself texts or emails for the Idea file but it’s not always easy to stop and type on my iPhone. So, what I’ve discovered lately is the microphone icon that shows up when you need to write on the iPhone. Easier than thumb-typing, it’s simple dictation and it’s actually learning from my corrections. Like your Dragon. It’s great for capturing for later thoughts or ideas when away from your base, wherever that may be. 

    June 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm

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