(If you’re short on time, skip to the bottom for numbered instructions.)
According to Malcolm X’s autobiography, he constantly scribbled little idea-notes on any and everything all the time. While I found that part of his personality fascinating, it wasn’t enough to convince me that I should follow suit. Later, I watched Some Kind of Monster where I saw Metallica using a white board to capture creative impulses before they escape. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that a white board was hanging on my wall within days.
I immediately put it to good use. Any idea accompanied by a, “This is brilliant! I need to make sure I don’t forget it!” feeling was recorded on my white board. I was rather vain about it. Scratch that, I am rather vain about my white board.
Thinking about Malcolm X’s little notes and Metallica’s colorful white board is always inspiring to me. Seeing my own white board covered in ideas makes me feel good about myself. Over the last several years of recording my ideas, however, I’ve come to realize that I like something even more than looking at a white board teeming with my ideas. Erasing those ideas.
Yes, erasing my ideas. I would have never guessed this, but in retrospect it makes sense. Reflect on this for a moment. What is the point of capturing ideas in writing anyhow? The point is not to simply write them down. Nothing magical happens because a good idea is recorded. Something magical happens, though, when a good idea is acted upon. I’ll go further and also argue that the same magical something happens when what appeared to be a good idea is permanently discarded.
And whether you’ve acted on a good idea or decided it wasn’t that great, regarding the white board, the end result is the same. It is erased.
Everything begins as an idea. *Begins* If you use a white board to record ideas for later use, when is the last time you erased it? When is the last time you made decisions about the ideas? If it’s been a while, you may be misunderstanding how to use a white board. No worries, that’s why I’m here. Simply follow the below instructions, and you’ll be in back on track in no time.
Instructions for How to Use a White Board:
Step 1 – Write possibly brilliant idea on it.
Step 2 – Act on idea or Discard idea.
Step 3 (Most Important) – Erase idea.