If you are anything like me, you have more ideas than you have time to explore them. Sometimes I will see something that sparks an idea and I find my mind doing a little dance around the idea, when I really need to be thinking about other things. And sometimes it isn’t even a full-blown idea that catches my attention in that way. It can be as simple as a color palette.
There are two things I want to do when I find some kind of inspiration: I want to find a way to put it away in a mental (and also digital) cabinet so I can stop obsessing on it and come back to it later, and I want to actually come back to it later.
To file it away if I find it online, I use Pocket (for articles, images and websites) and Evernote for research and other information that I want to be able to search. Otherwise I keep a folder on my desktop where I can just dump things in, making sure that I save files with names that make sense. Capturing it means I can always come back to that amazing thing and do something with it later.
Sometimes, I have no idea how I would even use something I have seen online, I just know I love it. Our minds seem to compartmentalize things, but if we stop and think about why we like something, it helps us apply it to something else entirely. For example, a really great Ted Talk might give me an idea for a blog post that applies some of the concepts to a different space. An unexpected direction a recent Facebook conversation took gave me a great idea for an article I am finishing up now. My point is, find things you like or that are interesting and let your mind play with them. Put them away if you must, and look at them later when you have fresher eyes, some additional perspective or a need for some ideas.
Here is a current real-life example. I am in the process of designing and building a website for a business idea I have (not this one… another one). During the design process, I was thinking about my color palette and what I wanted it to say about the services this site will offer. I also follow a huge number of interior designers on Instagram and since I knew I wanted to have a significant neutral component, I headed over to Jeremiah Brent’s Instagram page; he is a genius with neutrals. Looking through his posts, I found one with the colors that would work perfectly for my website project. I uploaded it to the Adobe Color tool, which extracted the colors for me (you can do this with any photo, not just ones that have some of the colors already pulled out), and let me play around with them, and I ended up with my website color scheme… inspired by someone’s living room.
Working like this is kind of like creating a digital idea mood board: a place for you to store inspiration you want to revisit.