When you get to work today, take out a piece of paper and a pen and place it on your desk where you can easily access it. THAT is now your “Parking Lot”.
Your “Parking Lot” is where you will record your flashes of intuition or thoughts of solutions or problems throughout the working day. You’ll be surprised when you see your list. Everyone has many insights, thoughts that can be turned into useful activities and so on. But most people just don’t track them in any way useful to themselves or the company.
In 6-Sigma, statisticians learn to “park” important discussions about subjects unrelated to the immediate topic. They do that by recording the topic and essential details on a separate database or in a separate document. Often, great ideas are revealed during the 6-Sigma process where the facilitator and statistician try to keep a team highly focused on one primary subject so must avoid distracting topics. But as with all communications and interactions, one comment feeds many others and the room can erupt with great topics and ideas. It would be a disservice to the company to fail to capture that outpouring of expertise. Hence, a simple tactic is used, “Parking Lots”, to carefully park ideas there. Not all of those ideas will demand action. But this almost always proves to be a useful and successful technique.
RULE: Replicate successful techniques.
That piece of paper on your desk can serve the same purpose. That is where you “Park” great ideas that come to you throughout the day. Write them down. At the end of the day, or tomorrow morning, review that list and keep the essential ideas and strike through the ones that you no longer want. Some of those ideas will become your innovations or make it to your “To-Do” list.
Writers, the good ones, use a similar technique as great leaders. Both vocations know that the difference between mediocre performance and superior performance is how information is handled and processed. But even more important what is done with that information. Most people do nothing because they fail to capture the ideas and the context so they can consider it later or take action on it later. In other words, many great ideas and great thoughts just evaporate.
When an idea or thought of relevance occurs to you through the working day, but you are too focused to let it distract your time and energy, then “Park It” for future reference.
RULE: It’s what you do with information that matters to your career.