When in doubt, put the ideas in

by | Apr 4, 2023 | General Productivity

Takeaway: When you’re uncertain about whether to put a great new idea into a project or save it for the next one, my default approach is to always include it. In my experience, this will make your current project more interesting and enjoyable.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 6s.

I’m not sure who needs this advice, but if you create a lot of original work, this one’s for you.

Lately I’ve been doing a bunch of interviews around my new book. Toward the end of the conversation, a few interviewers inevitably ask: “So, can you give any preview of what your next book will be about?”

I never can. Odd as it might sound, I never have an idea for the next book when I’m writing the current one. I know some authors who have ideas for their next book (or two! or three!) mapped ahead of time. But my honest answer is always that I’m not yet thinking about the next book.

Sometimes there’s a follow up question: “Wait, you don’t stumble onto ideas for new books as you’re writing?”

I do—and this is one of my favorite parts of writing. But I always put those ideas in the book I’m already working on—even if they move the narrative in a new direction. Sometimes especially if they move the book in a new direction.

In a weird way, my latest book is a three-in-one for this very reason. It’s a book on how we can overcome anxiety by investing in our state of mind. But it’s also about two other ideas I encountered during the writing process.

First, it’s about how a calm mind saves us time by making us more productive—and the cognitive toll of anxiety. Second, it’s a deconstruction of burnout and the factors that cause this phenomenon. Each of these topics could probably be a book on its own. And while I’m obviously biased, I think my new book is more helpful and interesting because I made the decision to explore all three topics rather than hold off for some future project.

This post riffs on some of the ideas in my latest book, How to Calm Your Mind.

For me, putting all my ideas into a current project has become a point of leverage—doing so makes what I’m working on more helpful, fun, and interesting. Plus I’ve found there is never a shortage of ideas out there for the next project.

Opting to include fresh ideas in a project also makes the writing process more enjoyable—you get to chase whims and string together existing ideas. (Plus enjoyment is key for writing—and a lack of it is the main reason we put it off.)

If you’re creating a project that you hope will be helpful and interesting, pour everything you have into it. That includes ideas, even if many may be strong enough to stand alone as future projects.

More ideas are always around the corner.


Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

Pin It on Pinterest