Want to hear a “first world problem“? I have too many ideas.
O woe is me.
After speaking with a number of creative-minded people, I found out I’m far from alone in this. I call it IOD (Idea Overload Disorder).
Symptoms of IOD
- Nearly every day you think of at least one new idea.
- An inability to focus on an idea after it loses its ‘new idea luster.’
- You have started more ideas than you’ve finished.
- Your ideas die once you realize you may have to complete tasks you don’t enjoy.
- You love hearing other ideas, especially those that give you new ideas.
Creativity is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t help in actually getting anything done. In fact, I’ve found that too much of it can hinder the progress of an idea.
Creativity is a drug. Seriously. I LOVE new ideas. I can trade ideas and discuss them all day without taking a lick of action to actually make something happen. I fed into that for the majority of my life.
If you relate to any of this, I’m sure you’re the same way.
Suffering from IOD? Try this 10-step program to get you from conception to completion.
- Believe in yourself. You can do this. You can do anything.
- Write down all of your ideas. And I mean all of them. Do it until you have none left. Do NOT try to start any of these ideas until you feel like you’ve exhausted the tank. If you wake up the next day with the same urge to create ideas, write more of them down. Eventually, you’ll realize these ideas are useless sitting in a book. This brings us to step two…
- Choose one idea. This will be tough, but you can do it. Choose the idea that fits your current circumstances the most. Don’t choose an idea that will change your life or habits – not now at least. Anything that disrupts your current lifestyle too much will likely be doomed for failure. Don’t go for a challenge; go for completion. Once you see something through you can change your approach later.
- Resist inevitable new idea temptation. No is ever cured from IOD; you just have to learn how to control it. At some point, you will become bored and the temptation of a new idea won’t be far behind. If this happens, look at your book. If looking isn’t doing the trick, repeat step one. Train yourself, damn it!
- Create milestones/checkpoints. Keep them small and achievable. Track them all so you can see progress. Make sure they’re concrete and definable. If one of your checkpoints is “make money,” just stop. Reevaluate what you’re doing. Find ways to be more precise in your goals. This is essential in training your brain to think “How can I make this happen?” rather than “Wouldn’t it be cool if this happened?”
- Make your project public. To a certain extent, of course. I know some folks may not see the importance of this one, but hear me out. When people know you’re working on something, it means there is some level of accountability. You’re putting it out there in the universe. Hell, it’s half the reason I maintain this blog and post my progress. It helps to “keep me honest.”
- Try everything. Having a great idea is only the beginning. Don’t shoot down any opportunity to make your idea happen (unless it compromises something more important like family or ethics, of course). On that note…
- Document the things you are unwilling to compromise to make your idea happen. THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT. If you don’t keep this in mind going in, you will constantly come across distractions. What is more important than making your idea happen? Are you unwilling to have brunch with your parents? Are post-workday happy hours a non-negotiable? Note it all.
- Develop useful partnerships. Most ideas include tasks for which you aren’t well-suited. Or maybe you just don’t like doing it. Teaming up with someone who compensates for your areas of deficiency can become vital in bringing an idea to completion. I have a few trusted people like Patrick and Aric.
- Schedule your tasks. Creative minds are not far off from attention-deficit minds. Sometimes I wonder if the two are synonymous. Schedule times to complete your tasks sans distractions. For example, I choose Sundays as my day to segregate myself from the noise of the rest of the world and plan my blog posts for the week. This allows me time to write for my book during weekdays. I’m not 100% perfect, but I’ll gladly take 90%.
Alrighty then, that should be about it. Do you have any suggestions for combating IOD? I’m still learning so if you felt I missed anything, feel free to let me know! Let’s share ideas! I’m rooting for you here.
You can do this.
Peace out, party people.