Having an Icebox
Why do you need an icebox? I am not talking about the place where you the mint chocolate chip ice cream. An icebox (or parking lot as it’s commonly referred to) is as a place to capture thoughts and ideas without derailing momentum from the current task or meeting. This technique encourages creative thinking during working sessions cultivating new ideas without losing focus. Implementing this practice in your work and personal life is simple.
Create a dynamic document that can update from anywhere for your icebox. I am a big fan of Google Docs so that I can add to mine from any device. Shared documents work ideally for group project parking lots allowing many participants to contribute and review in a single place that is always up-to-date. Where you keep your icebox is a matter of preference, it can be a notebook, Kanban, or computer. What matters is that it’s still accessible so you can add items when they arise.
Have a Keeper
You are the master of your personal icebox, but in a working session with clients or peers, I recommend having one person who owns adding items that we call the czar. This person is responsible for listening attentively for anything that needs documenting for future reference. Anyone can request during the meeting if you go off-topic to capture the current discussion in the icebox. The czar is listening attentively at a deeper level to make sure nothing is lost. The single-owner also helps mitigate redundancy in items that can make the document cloudy and hard to navigate.
Having an icebox is powerful, but it isn’t beneficial if you never reference it. This technique keeps your great ideas from being lost in the ether. They have been captured for eternity and are waiting for you to return and take action. I have an icebox of writing ideas that are continually being added to throughout the day/week/month. This article wasn’t something I thought of this morning at 4:00 AM this morning. I had the idea to share this with you two weeks ago, and when I woke up this morning to write, all I had to do was open the icebox to see which topic resonated with me this morning to write.
It is easy to get distracted from your task at hand by good ideas that take focus away from the current activity. Suddenly you go down a rabbit hole and are way off topic from your original focus, but we don’t’ want to lose the thought, so we capture it for future reference. The icebox tool will help you never miss another excellent idea while making meetings more effective and efficient.