Something to do: Remembering to jot down ideas

If Ben Franklin had been involved, the words written here today would have been better. And finished much sooner.

A Founding Father of the United States, Franklin was a writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He was also a list maker.

“A methodical and wry man,” wrote Franklin biographer Walter Isaacson in Time magazine, “Franklin loved making lists. He made lists of rules for his tradesmen’s club, of synonyms for being drunk, of maxims for matrimonial happiness and of reasons to choose an older woman as a mistress. Most famously, as a young man, he made a list of personal virtues that he determined should define his life.”

I also like lists. And If I had remembered that Monday, what you are reading might have been Pulitzer Prize worthy. Please forgive me for falling short.

A thought — maybe even a pretty solid idea — rumbled through my brain Monday. At first, I thought it could be a tweet or a Facebook post, but then I decided it would make a better blog post to write later. Except I didn’t write the idea down in the little notebook I almost always have with me. When I tried to recall the idea later, it just wasn’t there anymore. I still can’t remember it. But trust me, it was really good.

I should know better. Ideas can be fleeting. Lists bring peace of mind. In a past life, I was the night city editor at a daily newspaper where we put together an ever-changing list of the local stories that would appear in the next day’s edition. Every day, before my boss would leave in the early evening, we’d have what he called the “peace of mind update,” going through the list to see which stories were left to edit and which had been moved on in the process. The list was the key. Without it there would have been no peace of mind.

I’ve long been a list maker. To-do lists, grocery lists, a list of the books I’d like to write. Often, I’ll write down lists of things to do next week, next month or next year.

So why didn’t I write down Monday’s great idea? I blame social media. Twitter, Facebook and the like have given nearly everyone the ability to instantly write down and share whatever they think in that moment. This is an ability that all of us might be better off without. I have said many things on Facebook in particular that don’t look good given the passage of time. That makes me stop and think more than I did in the past and maybe not share every thought that crosses my mind. While that’s good, it also leads to me forgetting good ideas if I don’t write them down somewhere else.

And that leads to this post. If only I had written down that thought.

2 thoughts on “Something to do: Remembering to jot down ideas

  • Chris, I am also a maker of lists. I also have a note pad and pen on my nightstand.

    I will have a dream that seems of significance to me that wakes me up. I will jot what I could recall down, usually between 2 and 3 AM. For my musings posts.

    It’s been quite awhile since i have posted one. It is approaching the anniversary of my dear wife’s passing and burial. So I am expecting something to tweak a post.

    I think I might have wandered away from what I was going to say in regards to your post.

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