We were joined by Austin Petito of Evernote this week to chat all about idea generation! We discussed our strategies for creative brainstorming, ways to organize and keep track of all of our ideas, how we work through creative blocks, and so much more.

Read on to discover all of the amazing ideas and thoughts that were shared during the chat!

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Bufferchat on Oct 5, 2016: Idea Generation (with Evernote as our guest)

This week’s stats:
1st Bufferchat: 109 participants; 498 tweets; reach of 928,464
2nd Bufferchat: 364 participants;1,952 tweets; reach of 2,424,321

Q1: Where do you capture/keep track of your ideas for work or life? In one, two, or several places?

From Austin:

From the community:

  • “I use . It’s a lifesaver for sure to help save my ideas and tasks before I forget!” @Kait3Lynn
  • “A combination of digital & physical. I have a for creative ideas/free thought and for cataloging ideas.” @emilyesteck
  • “Also Google Now using voice commands like “Note to Self” follow by a thought. Sends me an email or creates a note.” @Russ4Google
  • “I’ve always been a big fan of pen & paper. There’s just something about physically writing down your thoughts & ideas.” @ImaGirl_Youknow
  • “If I have an idea during the workday, I’ll send myself an email w/ links and notes. @ the end of the day, I’ll dive in.” @julieannebourne

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: What are some ways to organize your ideas? Do you use certain tools or processes to do so?

From Austin:

  • Tagging is my go-to for organization! I tag notes in Evernote & images in . To recall info I just search by tag.

From the community:

  • “Love mind maps! Putting things into little bubbles then connecting them together really helps me understand the big picture.” @kookypixel
  • “I love using and good old fashioned notebooks, sticky notes – so I can visualize them! :)” @danielleirogers
  • “I use an app called , it’s a great tool to develop the idea a little further!” @matteocarvajal
  • “New page/note per idea. Any content drafting goes at top of page while notes on the content go below a divider.” @AlexisTheory
  • “I just started exploring the use of the new personal Twitter Moments to organize MY ideas on a topic.” @ChaimShapiro

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What are your strategies for creative brainstorming?

From Austin:

  • 1. Become an expert on the story you’re trying to tell. 2. Get inspired!  3. Try new things & have fun!

From the community:

  • “I turn on a recorder and I start talking to myself. Then, I repeat the process with my team.” @CaraFnParrish
  • “Don’t limit yourself to complete thoughts. Note everything that comes to mind, even if it’s just a keyword linked to an idea.” @FelixSTL
  • “Start with notes – get main ideas in bullets, then get outside! Take voice notes while running. Ideas flow.” @Robinsonpost
  • “I’ve also had a recurring weekly “Creative Power Hour” with the team where each week we tackle a different problem.” @allennieman
  • “Talking to people about my ideas. Even if I get zero input from them, I always walk away with light bulbs in my head.” @brebiai

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How do you decide which ideas are worth digging into and pursuing?

From Austin:

  • The moments that resonate with both yourself and others are the ones worth turning into ideas.

From the community:

  • “They are the ones I can’t let go of – the ones I wake up thinking about. If I can see an end goal coming to fruition.” @amnda_vera
  • “I ask 3 levels of WHY. If idea survives I take to prioritizing. Depends on impact on goals, investment VS reward.” @Tejazz89
  • “s it something that will differentiate my brand from others? Is it innovative? Does it align with one of the brand’s goals?” @Typ0Queen
  • “Bounce ideas off of others, if it gets a good response pursue it. If not, reflect inward — if you feel it 100%, do it.” @breepalm
  • “Decide which ideas are worth digging into + pursuing by considering your audience, their needs + their pain points.” @Wilde_Agency

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: How do you involve others in the development of your ideas?

From Austin:

  • I get feedback often from designers, writers, devs, & my wife! Listen and be open-minded. Your ideas WILL get better.

From the community:

  • “Asking specific questions is helpful (as opposed to the classic “What do you think?” that isn’t always as effective).” @wordsfromevelyn
  • “Share my thoughts with my best critics. Share…then ask. Then consider the feedback.” @bgcjeff
  • “Create inclusive environment in which employees of all levels can participate – dont underrestimate ideas from junior staff.” @philsiarri
  • “Keep a mastermind group for different areas of your life.” @kjaymiller
  • “For teams, collaboration is key – don’t work in a vacuum in the early development of ideas. Figure it out together!” @jesswlms

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: How often do you take time to generate new ideas? Would you change this at all?

From Austin:

  • We try to explore new ideas in as many projects as possible. Exploration and discovery is a key component of design.
  • The concepts may not always live but they can inspire, stretch, & evolve everyone & everything around you. It’s cosmic.

From the community: 

  • “I have ideas popping up in my head all the time. I actually take time a couple times a week to mind map & brain dump.” @UneekDiva
  • “I’ve a set time for that everyday. 4PM wherever I am, I clear my schedule for a yummy Chai Latte and ideation.” @iAshishPrasad
  • “Our content team schedules this as a meeting together one hour weekly no matter what – we can always do more!” @milestech
  • “I do have to mention though that time for reflection is important. Can’t just keep feeding yourself without digesting. :)” @kookypixel
  • “Ahh, it can’t be measured – I just allow myself the time and space to create ideas when inspiration strikes!” @courtneylaceee

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: How do you work through moments of creative blocks?

From Austin:

  • Working through moments of creative blocks is something every designer experiences and the process is unique to YOU.

From the community:

  • “Start with accepting it as part of the process. Ideas take time and trusting/respecting the process is a must.” @ideabloke
  • “Take time out and do what recharges you. For me that would be a good long run.” @tanveersure
  • “Definitely by not pushing it. Solutions and clarity always come when I’m not frustrated.” @salmajafri
  • “Sometimes if I hit a roadblock it might be a lack of knowledge. So I’ll research & see what others do to inspire me.” @Russ4Google
  • “Draw pictures, flowcharts, doodles, anything! It naturally gets me in a more creative state of mind & makes it fun.” @TheMikeyDunn

See all the great answers to question 7 here!


Thank you so much to Austin for taking the time to share so many awesome insights, and to everyone who participated in this chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PT (San Francisco time)  OR at 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time). Join our Slack community with over 2,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Arielle is the community strategist at Buffer. In addition to spending her time building community and designing meaningful experiences, she also enjoys healthy cooking, practicing yoga, modern dancing, traveling with her husband, and living mindfully.

  • AdamThompsan

    To generate new ideas is maybe the only reason I confirm my participation at the meeting )) otherwise I found them to be the most unproductive working time. Working in pairs, in small groups, sharing ideas and vision, making mind-maps working on my own – that’s what I like. My tool is my paper planner. I care to make the choice for the best one for me – innovative, well-designed and high-quality. This will be my new one: http://kck.st/2dLmsIU . Sometimes it’s music or some special environment which helps me to generate ideas. I read books, articles, watch videos – all have to be upon the topic.