Creating space for idea capture

I hide my clutter. I push it under rugs and stuff it in drawers. This clearly has its disadvantages. So, recently, I have tried to cut into my clutter piles by getting rid of the things I don't need. I have also been challenging myself to part with items I think are essential. When it comes to ideas, I operate in a very similar fashion. I tend to store my ideas in my head. I stuff them under rugs and in closets, expecting them to stay put and ready for me to retrieve them. But ideas are not like coats and tote bags. They have a habit of disappearing when you need them most.

A few catch-up notes for my #dailynote practice I had kept stored in my head. (Emi Kolawole)
A few catch-up notes for my #dailynote practice I had kept stored in my head. (Emi Kolawole)

It wasn't until I got to the d.school that I was able to let the mess of ideas flow out of my head and occupy tangible space.

I was reminded of this while watching d.school fellow Jae Rhim Lee work with her design sprint team on Wednesday. I was struck by how liberally she spread her ideas around the room, letting them occupy the space almost as if they were branches of a rapidly-growing plant. One of her teammates asked whether they should erase some of the whiteboards to make more space.

The answer: No. Instead, the team found new ways to continue spreading around the room. They brought in poster boards, smaller whiteboards and even leveraged table surfaces, windows and the floor.

Watching this dynamic reminded me how important it is to give your ideas space. Then, when the space does not conform to your needs to think creatively and make more space. Use the windows, furniture, the floor or even hang fresh surfaces from the ceiling! This requires taking ownership of not only the physical space but your ideas as well.