What We Lose Every Day

Our best opportunities are slipping away and we’re giving them up without a fight.

In today’s digital world of limitless information, we’re overwhelmed with no great way to organize it all. Want a burrito? Here’s a list of 50 great Mexican restaurants (some of which paid to be here). Looking for a good book? Here are 1,000 results. Too many? No problem! Here are 25 different filters you can use to bring that list down to 100.

This data deluge is a double-edged sword. Great ideas and opportunities can finally be found. You just have to have the time and patience to dig down to them. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that time, and those hidden gems might as well stay hidden.

In response to this, suggestions (also called recommendations) have become our salvation from this insidious information imposition.

Suggestions come from everywhere. We find them on forums, we get them from friends, they pop up in our email inboxes, and complex technology is built to craft them in the apps you use. When navigating this choppy sea of data, suggestions are the lighthouse that guides us to the most rewarding opportunities life has to offer.

But we are constantly losing these great ideas. As a result, we’re missing out on a lot in life.

There are two primary reasons for this: marketing and circumstance.

Mind-Numbing Marketing

Suggestions don’t always come from people we trust. Just turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or surf the web and you’ll be inundated with advertising. An army of marketers is out there trying to suggest their product for every need you could imagine. I won’t say they’re selling something they don’t believe in, but they’ll tell you that you’ll like it even if you won’t. To avoid being taken advantage of, we’ve gotten used to seeing most of it as simply noise. But this heightened awareness has also made us numb to all suggestions if they don’t come from someone we have an established relationship with.

This means that useful advice from anyone without a substantially strong tie to us is often disregarded. A helpful stranger you meet on the train, a new colleague at work, or a blogger sharing their ideas. All of these people may not know you very well (or at all), but the suggestions they provide could be just what you need. Skepticism is fine, but if the person isn’t selling something it’s probably worth hearing them out. Just make sure you remember it.

Victims of Circumstance

Everyone can recall a time they forgot a great suggestion. That restaurant a friend raved about or a movie your roommate told you to watch the next time you boot up Netflix. Sometimes we’re lucky and can ask for a reminder (hopefully the source remembers). However, much of the time we’re either too embarrassed or too lazy to find out. Instead, we fall back on something familiar, boring, and easy. We lose what was probably a great new experience for mediocrity.

The human brain is great for many things but it’s not the best for holding suggestions. When it comes to tracking new ideas, nothing beats writing them down. But we either don’t or, if we do, we put them down somewhere that was convenient at the time. This could mean on a scrap of paper, the back of a business card, a notepad, a to-do app or any other object or technology capable of recording our thoughts. This haphazard nature of knowledge management means that even if we were lucky enough to leave some trace of the suggestion, we’ll still have to make an effort to search for it later (if we haven’t lost it already). Allowing ourselves to be woefully unprepared to collect great ideas leaves us prone to a woefully underwhelming future.

Taking Back Our Tomorrow

The good news is that this problem has an easy solution.

Centralize your suggestions.

You want to have one place to hold all of your suggestions. This could be a notebook, an app on your phone or even a sheet of paper you keep folded up in your wallet. The important thing is that you will have a place to track the new ideas that come your way no matter where you are. You want to stick to one place to ensure you don’t waste time searching for where you put the last good suggestion that came your way. A single source is also important because it’s easier to remember when an opportunity to add to it presents itself.

Regularly update and organize this source as well. Just as you don’t want to be searching for information when it’s all over the place, you don’t want to spend time looking through your source for a particular note.

One of the best ways to organize your individual suggestions is to turn them into lists. It makes them even easier to remember and helps you find useful related ideas too.

Some of our best experiences come from great suggestions. Don’t miss another amazing opportunity. Start saving your suggestions (and your future) today!

What do you use to save great ideas? What tips do you have for remembering information for later?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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