The BIG Idea File: Managing The Mother of Invention



Ever think to yourself: If I could just get a handle on all these amazing ideas, I’d be kicking it at a posh beach resort instead of packing lunches, sorting laundry and dealing with any of the other 3 million tasks that go along with motherhood?

We get it. It happens to us too!

The seeds of inspiration are everywhere – in the news, in your daily life, in the trials and tribulations of motherhood. Call it the “Mother of Invention”, but often that’s where it starts. A mom puts two and two together, and voila – the next big entrepreneurial success story is born!

If only there was a way to manage all your BIG ideas…

I call it my BIG IDEA file and it’s how I handle all the new ideas as they pop up without getting distracted from the task at hand AND it’s a new feature column for MOMeo Magazine!

First a bit about how a BIG Idea file works (and then we’ll give you the full scoop on our new column).

It’s simple: take all the tiny pieces of paper, emails, web links, napkins, magazine clips, wrappers, and any other bits and bobs that sparked your creativity and file them for follow-up!

File It – Create an email folder, desktop folder and bookmark called BIG Ideas and drag random email correspondence, notes, tasks, web links and documents into the folder for future reference. If you want to get fancy, use one of those idea-sorting systems like Evernote.

Flag It – The purpose isn’t to file ideas for permanent storage – it’s to get them out of our brains and into our calendar for follow-up. Flag each BIG Idea for immediate, short term or long term follow-up.

Follow Up – Create a task list for any of the immediate ideas and assign a deadline. Schedule 15 minutes in your calendar every week to review your short and long term BIG Ideas and clear out old ideas that don’t seem big anymore.

Forward It – If action is a challenge, forward it to your virtual assistant for follow-up.

The BIG idea behind the BIG IDEA file is to move from thinking about ideas to acting on them because the true value of an idea is in the implementation – everything else is just a sticky note with scribbles.

The BIG IDEA File: The new feature column for #MOMeo Magazine is our virtual file folder that we cram all our BIG Ideas into. Tune in every Tuesday for fresh perspectives, inspiring success stories or just a random assortment of resources.


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  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The BIG Idea File: Managing The Mother of Invention : MOMeo Magazine – A Resource for Entrepreneurial Mothers --

  2. Thanks for the tips beyond filing… I have a nightstand full of scribbles but no strategy for follow up or action!!

  3. brittmichaelian on

    This is a very timely post! My ideas are EVERYWHERE! I was just saying last night that I need to get this stuff organized or it is simply useless. Check this out… I have a file in my drawer, a file next to my bed, an envelop with notes in my purse, notes on my iPhone and a file on my desktop that I am now going to consolidate and follow up on! You have inspired me! 🙂 Thanks for reminding me that big ideas can be organized too!

  4. Love this … a systematical process for my 'wouldn't it be cool if …' file. This system of action items, specially the 'forward it for follow-up', is so rich. I stopped writing my ideas in a notebook (then closing the notebook) so I could 'see' my ideas on post-its on a big board in my office – HA! The big idea file with the idea of 15 minutes of follow-up is so doable. Thank you … now I gotta get some ideas followed-up on – yay!

  5. alyciaedgar on

    You must have been reading my mind! I am suffering from idea overload at the moment. And have been thinking about getting a VA to collate it for me. I use evernote (as an electronic filing cabinet) and thought I could get a VA to sort and tag that better as well as adding the various other items that I have, notebook scribbles, “read it later” in my firefox, too many bookmarks to mention etc etc.

    You've inspired me! I love the 4F's! In fact I think this article is the perfect worksheet to hand over to the VA with some guidelines attached. Now to find that VA…….

  6. Great ideas Carla – I really hate having unfinished items and sometimes that's what ideas feel like and they make me feel heavy. A good system for handling them may just help me drop the weight:)



  7. Hey Carla! You have such great wisdom! I have been struggling with getting my ideas into action. I'm going to take your advice and let you know how it goes! xo Colette

  8. This is a great, actionable list! I love the spin on the 'Flag it' and the 15 minutes for 'Follow up' each week. A great resource for coaching people toward business growth! Thumbs up for sure on The Big idea file!

  9. As the Chief Idea Bunny, you can imagine I have a LOT of ideas. Too many. I own hundreds (dare I admit it, thousands) of domain names for ideas that are awesome, I just never have time to fully execute. I've been looking for a system to manage it all, outside of my head that is! Thanks for this. I'll do it! I can do it! You made it easy for me and for that, you are my hero of the day!

  10. Oh you and me both! I have ideas sticking out of every nook and cranny! I just recently decided that I needed to figure out a strategy to manage them!

  11. Oh girl…I used to do the notebook thing and then after finding one that was crammed full of awesome ideas that I never implemented, I decided that I needed to change up how I dealt with my ideas.

    Now I send a quick note to a colleague, dump it in my tasks, task my VA to follow-up…whatever I need to do to make sure it gets implemented!

  12. Oh the read it later file…that one gets out of control fast and rarely followed up on.

    It's times like those that I wish I wasn't committed to a paperless office and could print them out and bring them with me. Perhaps I'll just have to get an iPad for a reading file. I do a lot of catch-up reading and audio listening when I'm traveling.

    Good luck finding your VA!

  13. YES! Unfinished ideas do make you feel heavy!

    My colleague Karen Turner who teaches efficiency habits is a huge proponent of getting stuff out of your brain (including not memorizing phone numbers which I tend to do). It was amazing when I made that little shift, how much lighter I felt!

  14. Thank you! It's all about the systems and follow-up! I now take meeting notes in email and send it to all parties concerned and cc myself (including an action list) to make sure stuff gets done!

  15. Chief Idea Bunny…I LOVE it! I often joke that my next business is going to be an idea lemonade stand and I'm going to charge 25 cents per idea for other people to implement.

    Confession: I too suffer from domainia (the uncontrollable desire to register cool ideas in www form)!

    The key is getting it out of your brain. Clearing your mental clutter goes a long way to increasing your productivity on what you are focusing on!

    You go girl!

  16. Oh this was great and so timely! I’ve just got back to my “office” after 2.5 years away and did a major de-clutter of “ideas” I had on file which of course made room for new ones! This system will be helpful to make sure those ideas don’t die on the vine prematurely! Thanks Carla.

  17. Oh this was great and so timely! I've just got back to my “office” after 2.5 years away and did a major de-clutter of “ideas” I had on file which of course made room for new ones! This system will be helpful to make sure those ideas don't die on the vine prematurely! Thanks Carla.

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