I just returned from a perfect vacation in Florida, and now I am looking forward to a business trip to Hawaii in April. Instead of putting away my suitcase until my Hawaii trip is imminent, I have left it out on a table in our basement. Whenever I think of something I want to have with me in Hawaii, I can get the item and drop it into the suitcase. I already have water shoes, sunscreen, my sunhat, a guidebook on Maui, and a few other items in the suitcase. (No, the trip is not all business.)
Tossing things into the suitcase as I think of them means that on the day of my departure I will not be racing around the house trying to think of what I will need on Maui and searching my brain for those items that had occurred to me a month earlier. I will not forget the things that will make my trip a success. I will feel confident about my packing and relaxed about my trip.
The "open suitcase" method works well for business writing too.
When you have an upcoming report, proposal, newsletter article, or another important piece of writing, toss your ideas into a "suitcase" as you think of them. Your suitcase might be a digital recorder, a smartphone, an electronic or a paper folder, an electronic notebook (for example, a Microsoft OneNote notebook) or a paper one, a writing pad on your desk, or a white board or bulletin board in your cubicle.
As you get brilliant ideas for your written piece, immediately put them in your suitcase. That way, they will not flit away before you have captured them. Then when you are ready to write a draft, all the pieces you have "packed" will be there for you. You will feel confident and relaxed about meeting your writing deadline because you will have many good ideas for content.
When you look through your suitcase, you may be happily surprised that the ideas you have captured are so rich and interesting. Fresh, powerful ideas can spring up when you are not under pressure to produce them by a deadline. By contrast, when you are racing to finish a proposal by 5 o'clock, brilliant ideas may elude you.
Do you use the open suitcase method to gather ideas for your business writing projects? Which other methods are successful for you? Please share.