When More is Too Much: how to deal with idea overwhelm

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This contributor post was written by Tiffany Moore.

As Creatives, we are usually not short on ideas. We all have LOADS of ideas — the tricky part is figuring out when to say no, and not letting idea overload keep us from getting started on anything.

(I know that I’m always pushing the just start thing. It’s what I do.)

So, how do you balance all of your NEW AMAZING BRILLIANT ideas and inspirations with the need to actually get stuff done?

Here are a few tips to keep you from idea overwhelm and help you recognize where you need to spend your time:

1. What can you do right now?

Often we love the thought of something shiny and new, but have no idea how to make it happen. By focusing on things that you can do right now, today, you’ll be able to make movement on something. And any kind of movement is a good thing.

2. Where’s the low-hanging fruit?

Psychologically, it’s an amazing feeling to cross things off your list. What’s something quick and easy you can take care of right now?

3. Know that you may never get it all done and make peace with that.

It’s okay. By accepting that you’re only one person who can’t do it all (wait? what?!), you’ll be able to avoid idea overwhelm and get back into the real world.

4. But don’t give up on your ideas!

If you’re a dreamer who’s always coming up with crazy schemes or plans, write them down! Putting pen to paper and getting the ideas out of your head will make it so much easier to come back to them when you’re lacking inspiration.

Your turn: How do YOU deal with inspiration overload?

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*image via MothballCharlie: More

Tiffany Moore, co-founder of Teahouse Studio is a life and business coach. She helps creatives take their business (and LIVES) to the next level with her sparkly and sassy coaching and thinks that everyone in the world is beautiful, including you.

32 comments | Click here to reply

RT @papernstitch: When More is Too Much: how to keep from idea overwhelm: This contributor post was written byรขโ‚ฌยฆ http://t.co/kjj1m9EF

Danielle Monferrato (@DomAndDan) | May 22nd, 2012 at 12:14 pm

LOL, I make the “lists” too. Whevever I find a cool idea that someone else has posted, I also bookmark it. Other crazy cool ideas are always helpful when inspiration is needed.

AMW | May 22nd, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Lists are good AMW. And actually, I’ve found that folders are great for inspirational finds as well. And of course, tools like Evernote are extremely helpful too. Thanks for stopping by!
-Brittni

papernstitch | May 22nd, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Such a great question! RT @papernstitch: How do you deal with inspiration overload? http://t.co/3wj2htUN

Create Hype (@CreateHype) | May 22nd, 2012 at 4:10 pm

RT @CreateHype: Such a great question! RT @papernstitch: How do you deal with inspiration overload? http://t.co/cJGJYjID <Wish I knew!!

Zoe Grant (@ZoeandDrew) | May 22nd, 2012 at 4:15 pm

This blog post was right on time, I was just asking yesterday about idea overload: http://t.co/PreZqqOr

issa ino (@issaino) | May 22nd, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I was asking about idea overload the other day on Twitter. This post is right on time.

Melissa | May 22nd, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Yup! // When More is Too Much: how to keep from idea overwhelm http://t.co/NKtO6NyS via @papernstitch

(@74LimeLane) (@74LimeLane) | May 23rd, 2012 at 2:10 am

Thanks for the heads up Brittni! I don’t think I know what Evernote is. I’ll check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

AMW | May 23rd, 2012 at 11:38 am

Oh good Melissa. Glad to hear that. And yes- AMW – definitely check out Evernote. Here’s the link: http://evernote.com/
-Brittni

papernstitch | May 23rd, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I write ideas down sometimes in a book, sometimes on a bit of paper (that I will probably lose before I get to making the fabulous project sketched out on it). There are some ideas that make my brain itch longer than others. I find doing just one thing for the project, say research on materials, is enough to satisfy the itch. Sometimes those itchy projects get done, sometimes they don’t but it feels good to have done “something”.

Katie B | May 23rd, 2012 at 11:16 pm

As a single mom, when I have creative overload I try to hone the ideas from the perspective of which things can most benefit my #1, #2, #3 life priorities. Maybe later in life I’ll have more freedom to just run off and go, but for now my priorities dictate my time management. I make a criteria list based on cost, how much time it would take from my priorities, how much research or possible learning curve an idea would take, and then how much I’m dying to try the idea (!). If an idea doesn’t fit but one or two of those criteria, I thank myself for being attracted to it and say maybe later. If it fits all, I write down the block of time I’ll start (ex. Saturday night 6-10pm) and make a to-do list to get going! There are many times that I get a little sad because I don’t have the time or money to try something. But then I think of my 4 sweet kiddos and smile. It’s easy to weed through an overflow when you keep your priorities in view! Thanks for this!

Kristi | May 24th, 2012 at 10:39 am

Really great suggestions. This is something I struggle with all the time. One thing I do is to categorize the things on my list, as well as prioritize them (from “low hanging fruit” to the big things). I also use VueMinder, which is a calendar that allows me to schedule my day, as well as send reminders to my email and phone.

NIcole@sent-well | May 24th, 2012 at 10:42 am

Idea overload! http://t.co/hMhFBLuQ via @sharethis

(@GinaSekelsky) (@GinaSekelsky) | May 24th, 2012 at 11:21 am

speaking of feeling overwhelmed, great read at @papernstitch today! http://t.co/ruk9vKD9

danni hong (@ohhellofriend) | May 24th, 2012 at 11:27 am

I’m dealing with this right now! I make a list. Prioritize and get what I can accomplish done first. The quicker I get my “chores” or old projects done, the faster I can get to t he new ones! And the wait until it does get done gives my brain time to think things through, also.

Tammy | May 24th, 2012 at 11:49 am

Great question! RT @papernstitch: How do you deal with inspiration overload? http://t.co/sTdnWE1Z

Vickie Porter (@inmyheadstudios) | May 24th, 2012 at 11:57 am

Oh what a perfect topic!

I make lists. It gets it out of my brain so that I’m not constantly thinking about it. I then block out time to work on some of my ideas. The ones in that list that excite me the most get done and checked off. If ideas stick around long enough they will be completed…after a while some fall off the list because I’m no longer excited or interested in them. Which probably helps with the “vetting” process. Or sometimes looking at the list two ideas will be combined and become an even more exciting idea!
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waterrose | May 24th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Feeling overwhelmed by all your creative ideas?! Great tips from @papernstitch. http://t.co/VyIl87GS

avril loreti (@avrilloreti) | May 24th, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Great advice (as always) Tiffany! One thing I’ve tried recently is recording my ideas onto my phone. This way I can talk about the little details that inspired me and save them for future reference. Works like a charm! ๐Ÿ™‚
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Marlo N | May 24th, 2012 at 2:17 pm

DEFINITELY a list-maker myself. I also try to back away from it all to get some perspective and see what is most urgent and/or important to me. I tend to get so excited that I pull the trigger on something before it (or I) am ready for it, just to DO it, but this doesn’t always achieve the best results (surprise, surprise!). So I just try to stay organized and remind myself that it’s not a bad thing for me to wait on something just a TINY bit to ensure it’s done right! As long as I write it down somewhere and know I can come back to it, I’ll be fine.
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Emily Reiter @ anna delores | May 24th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

When More is Too Much: how to deal with idea overwhelm http://t.co/xPhqEMoL @papernstitch

Anna Delores Photo (@annadeloresLA) | May 24th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I JUST thought about this two days ago: I’m famous for starting a big new project then do a couple pieces, then I’m ready for something new. I recently threw out a box of half done projects. I guess you have to know your strengths. I realized I wasn’t much with woodworking and so those kinds of projects got tossed. I now also don’t even start anything that involves sewing since I don’t like sewing (even though I’m tolerable at it). I found keeping a project list is good for me. I review it weekly. Add to it nearly every two days. So far it’s working, but doesn’t lessen that anxious feeling I have to dump the current project (bracelets; only 8 made of my goal of 30) to move on to earrings!!! What do I do about that? Anyone? ๐Ÿ™‚

CeCe | May 24th, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Oh, and like Kristi said, how much $$$ it’s going to take me to do a project and time it will take me, is also a factor in when I can start a project (since I’m a stay at home mom).

CeCe | May 24th, 2012 at 7:21 pm

My ideas keep me up at night so I keep pen and paper by my bed ALWAYS. I have found that the best thing for me in completing projects and handling one at a time is to have a deadline and purpose in mind. If I’m sewing myself a skirt, I tell myself that I need it for a certain outing that is coming up…if a birthday is coming up then I can go to my idea list and make something for someone. Whether it’s is writing or crafting, I have to have a deadline in mind. it’s hard to have that sweet balance of discipline and fun but oh, the joy of completing something. ๐Ÿ™‚

ohbygolly | May 24th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

When More is Too Much: how to deal with idea overwhelm http://t.co/oZOLNLSi via @sharethis

(@robenmarie) (@robenmarie) | May 24th, 2012 at 10:21 pm

@CarmelStetler interestng read! “@robenmarie: When More is Too Much: how to deal with idea overwhelm http://t.co/WXEohkOo via @sharethis”

Cathy Arenzana (@catarenz75) | May 25th, 2012 at 12:24 am

i always drawing and sketching my ideas in a notice book , which i caried the whole time alonge with me.
Sometimes i will noticed that it is a theme where i can work with.
it’s helping me like you are telling to get focus and work , but it ‘s helping to get the stream of idea’s in the right direction.
thank you for the post, very interesting;-D
have a happy crafting weekend;XD

jet | May 25th, 2012 at 3:40 am

When More is Too Much: how to deal with idea overwhelm | papernstitch http://t.co/6F6Pah99 Some great tips here!

(@FrancineClouden) (@FrancineClouden) | May 25th, 2012 at 4:05 am

When More is Too Much: how to deal with idea overwhelm | papernstitch http://t.co/2z859M84

(@MeetJNewell) (@MeetJNewell) | May 25th, 2012 at 6:47 am

Great tips! I teach people to write their ideas down as well. I suggest that they keep a notebook so it’s all in one place. I also encourage people to have a vision for where they’re going and goals to get there and only add in the ideas from the notebook that fit with that vision and those goals. The ones that don’t fit right now stay in the notebook. That helps to cut down on the overwhelm too.
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Leanne Chesser | May 29th, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I try to do 1) and 2) but find that 3) tends to get in the way. I think 4) helps coping with 1) 2) and 3) – especially if you make some kind of prioritized list.

4) also is a lot of fun! Writing down my ideas or just juggling them around in my head makes me happy – I imagine that it’s a bit like having lots of money in the bank: you might not use it at the moment, but knowing it’s there gives you a feeling of safety. It also gives you something to look forward to doing/ making!
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