How Do You Keep Track of Ideas?

I am a constant list maker. I have a grocery list, a list short story ideas, novel ideas, screenplay ideas, board game ideas, and website ideas. I have do to lists, Halloween costume lists, if-I-ever-open-a-movie theater lists, movie lists, gift idea lists, and, perhaps most applicable here, blog entry idea lists.

For a while now, I’ve used two different platforms for listmaking: Outlook Notes and Backpack. There are pros and cons to both. Outlook Notes are stored on my computer and synced to the Notes app on my iPhone, making them easy to access when I’m at home or on the go, but not at my work computer. Backpack is beautifully designed software that I can access online anywhere, but it leaves me wanting more.

So a few months ago I mocked up the exact kind of listmaking app I wanted. The examples I used were story ideas, but I’d happily use this software for any type of list. Note that this is for personal use, even the “thumbs up” option. I find that I go back over my lists of ideas many times,

A friend of mine started to create this software, but he got caught up in some other things (family, friends, paying jobs…really?). So the other day I was chatting with another developer, and he recommended a free site called Trello.

I’ve been using Trello for a week now, and I’m happy to report that it’s quite close to the listmaking software of my dreams, especially for idea logging, sorting, and tagging. It is a must-have for writers and compulsive list makers.

Trello has various ways of helping you break down ideas. You have multiple pages to use, and on each page you can create multiple lists with different tags to sort the individual ideas. The ideas themselves are on cards that you can drag and drop to any list on the page or to any position on a list. If you click on the card, you can store a wealth of information on it, as if they represent index cards with a few lines on the front and a full description on the back.

I would highly, highly recommend loading Trello and giving it a try. It’ll take about 5 seconds to have your account ready, and Trello’s tutorial is cleverly built into a preloaded page that you can play around with as if it’s one of your lists.

Let me know what you think after you give it a try. What do you currently use for lists and sorting ideas?

5 thoughts on “How Do You Keep Track of Ideas?”

  1. I just use Iphone Notes app, but I really only use it for lists, more than ideating or project work. I’ll look at Trello just in case.

  2. I was just telling someone today that I need a better way of keeping track of my lists for work. Working with 4 separate locations, all with different projects, has led to a crazy amount of written lists for me. I’ll be checking Trello out. Do you know if you can access it from multiple computers?

    • Laura–It sounds like Trello would be amazing for you. Not only can you use it on any computer (you can have it open on as many computers want at the same time), you can add multiple users to the pages. So if you have one page for your personal grocery list, you don’t have to share it, but if you have another that you need to share with people at different locations at your job, you can invite others to join and edit that page.

      • Thanks, Jamey! The sharing option sounds great! I’m looking forward to playing around with it and seeing if it will help me get control over all if my lists 🙂


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