Capturing good ideas.

Day One inbox count.png

Sometimes good ideas just show up.

They arrive at your doorstep unannounced, no heads up - like an inconsiderate drunken relative on a random Wednesday. You still need to take them in so that they can be nourished toward a fulfilling life, regardless of when they show up.

Often I find myself with my wife and dogs when, without warning, the proverbial soused uncle of an idea makes way into the foyer of my brain. I thought about this problem on a recent walk. I wanted a way to capture any idea quickly. Mind you, this is not a task, a calendar entry, or an email - this is an idea! The stuff of books, blog posts, business ventures is here in the making, and you'd better grab it while you can.

Each year I try to scale back the number of apps that I use in an effort to stay lean and focused. In reviewing my Mac, iPad and iPhone apps that were currently installed (I generally have all of the same apps on each device) I came up with a solution that had already been working really well for me : Day One.


Watch Idea Capture

Part One

I did toy with the idea of using Drafts, or Bear, but since I was already paying for Day One and it does the job of gathering my thoughts I figured 'why not'? Also, I wanted an app for Apple Watch that would record my voice and which would be able to get thoughts down quickly, without the Siri timer running out on me as I stumble over words. Yes, I could have also done this with Voice Memos on the watch. However, since Day One is already on my Apple Watch, I decided to create an additional journal titled "iA Writer INBOX". I subscribe to the Premium version of the app, which costs $2.92/month, (or about $35 USD annually) which enables multiple journal creation. It's so worth it. From there, I installed a watch face that included the app, as pictured here.

Day One Watch Face.jpeg

Now, when I have an idea pop up I just tap the blue plus button icon as pictured here (note : the Day One icon varies a bit, depending upon which watch face it is shown on). From there I get a scrollable menu as to which journal I want to speak a new entry to, which can be selected by using the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch. All I have to do then is dictate and it's done. The idea has been captured.

Part Two

Once daily when I get the notification from Day One about the fact that I should write in my everyday journal (the two journals are easily discernible - I call my main one "Life"), I will usually enter my thoughts and ramblings for the day in that main journal and then see that there is a number shown next to the title of my "iA Writer INBOX" journal indicating that, "Ah yes, I have an idea there yet to be processed".

I open each idea and using the Share Sheet, I invoke this iOS Shortcut which copies the text and fires up iA Writer into a blank document, ready for the text to be simply be pasted. I then paste the idea into iA and delete the entry from Day One so that I always have a "0" entry count in that journal. Of course with audio-recorded bits, I will then write the idea out in iA Writer at that point since it does not transcribe to text when being recorded on the watch. It's a bit of a hack, but it doesn't cost anything extra.


Phone capture

This is simpler than the watch process. (Boy, if iA could get a watch app together for quick idea capture, wouldn't that be great?)

I have created this Shortcut, which I invoke by saying, "Hey Siri, I am writing." It launches into a blank file in iA, ready for me to write. From there, I use the Siri button on the built-in keyboard to gather my thoughts.

Let me know if you find this useful. I would love to hear your from you right over here.

WritingEric BowersApple Watch, Siri, iOS