Ideas don’t have expiration dates, but they do have a “best if used by” date.
Many ideas may take a person an entire lifetime to realize.
Postponing your ideas wouldn’t be my first recommendation, but the truth is life and personal responsibilities can frequently force you to put your ideas on the back-burner. In some circumstances it may simply not be the right time to implement an idea — it may not be the right time for you, or the right time to unleash it upon the world.
The trick then becomes to avoid forgetting about those ideas.
Some ideas may vary, but it almost never matters how long it takes you to put an idea into action. What matters is that you actually do it.
Might there be more competition in your category if you wait too long?
But the feeling and confidence and karma you get from bringing your idea into reality more than makes up for any potential competition you may have to deal with down the road. If anything, having competitors means that there is demand in the marketplace for your idea (competition isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing).
While your ideas might not expire — there is sometimes a “best if used by” date on your ideas.
Trends run in circles.
Something that is hot right now, will probably cool off soon and then in a few months (or a few years) circle right back around and become incredibly popular all over again.
Vinyl LPs were all but dead five to ten years ago, but look at the demand for them now… All the cool kids are into vinyl discs from current artists, and collectors are buying back all the albums they sold to the second-hand store when everyone was switching over to CDs.
But you have to consider the current market before picking the idea you want to implement. If your idea is to open a video rental store, opening one tomorrow might not be the best time to do so, but you never know what might happen six weeks or six months or six years from now.
Here are some ways to make sure you don’t let your ideas go bad…
Use your calendar app to schedule a follow-up on ideas.
When you scribble an idea down in your journal or in your notes app (you are writing down your ideas, right??) go ahead and schedule a follow-up date on your calendar at the same time. You can scheduled it for a week, a month, or years into the future. Set an alarm or notification of the appointment to remind you about the idea, and be sure to include a few lines of description in the details box of your calendar (perhaps even the document file name/location or journal volume/page number) because I guarantee you’re not going to recall all the details a week or two from now.
Mail yourself a postcard or letter
Jot a few lines about your idea down on a postcard or on a notepad and mail it to yourself. You could even print out your full idea from your word document or photocopy the page from your journal and mail that to yourself. Because of the relatively short time it takes for a letter to go through the mail, this works best when you want to revisit the idea in a week or less.
Schedule an email to yourself
Many email programs, apps, or browser extensions allow you to write an email and schedule it to be sent at a future date. Type out your idea in a message to yourself and schedule to be sent later. You can include links to your idea documents, add attachments, or links to websites with research details.
Keep checking on ideas you leave simmering on the back-burner so they don’t go up in smoke!