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Organizing My Thoughts

Updated on May 24, 2012

Putting Thoughts on Paper

Yellow pad for writing down thoughts
Yellow pad for writing down thoughts

David Allen Getting Things Done Video Speaks at Google

Organizing Thoughts

As CEO, I spend a fair amount of time thinking and organizing thoughts. Strategic decisions like what partnerships to explore, what markets to go after, what type of people to hire, and how to get the company to work better together takes a lot of mind energy. With so many parts to our business, I have to be very organized with my thoughts. When I'm not, I often find that there is more ambiguity, and less focus.

Some People Talk to a Camera to Organize Thoughts - Warning: This is a strange video

Brainstorming and Coaches

My process for organizing thoughts begins by talking with other people. This is one aspect that you have to be careful with in a company. Some people like to brainstorm, and others don't. The second thing I find that works well is to get opinions from experienced people. One good thing about Silicon Valley, that when it comes to startups, there are lots of people to offer advice with the scares to back it up.

Putting Thoughts on Paper

So, I churn and churn on the problem as I'm getting feedback. When I have an issue, it stays in my mind day and night. I keep working on solutions until I have two or three reasonable ways to approach the problem.

Then comes chunking it down on paper. I often find that as a problem is dissected and solutions come to mind that they can often be complex. To make sure that the solution matches the problem, I write it down in my notebook. Sometimes a list and sometimes the pros and cons. Which ever feels right for the particular situation I'm trying to address.

One tip is to use a large pad of paper and make lists of all your thoughts. Reorder the list to have it make sense if things need to be done sequentially. Keep working on the list until it becomes an outline. At that point, an outline is pretty well organized for communicating an idea or filling it in to give a speech.

How Does it Feel

After I come up with a path to tackle a problem, I try to visualize how it would feel if it was happening now. I like to ask my self a simple question, does it feel right? If not, I know I have more to do and to keep working on the problem. This is where it can be difficult to identify what exactly is making a solution feel like it won't address the problem.

Understanding Yourself

One thing we all need to do to organize thoughts is to understand ourselves. To know our strength and weaknesses, and to be honest in that assessment. I enjoy harmonious communication. So when I'm organizing my thoughts, I do my best to make sure that the solution isn't one that avoids conflict just because I prefer other ways of communicating.

The Plan

After going through the process of organizing thoughts, my goal is to have a plan of attack. A clear action plan with a goal. Taking the time to organize and plan will help save you time and make you more efficient.

Off to plan some thoughts....


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    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 

      7 years ago

      This is an old hub, but as useful today as it was 2 yrs ago. I'm impressed with how aware you are of your thoughts, feelings and actions. Thanks for a short and sweet hub, Paul.

    • SuziGravenstuk profile image


      7 years ago from Long Beach MS, USA

      Paul, this brought to mind one of my personal "overcoming adversity" experiences that I may be able to share successfully in a Hub. Not copying you, your post just brought this situation to remembbrance.

      Actually, I am so new, I don't even know if we have a place for "notes or plans" in our hub. If there is such a feature I will use it because I tend to forget some of my best ideas. Heck, I would already be a billionairess if I remembered every dynamic thought Providence sent my way.

      By the way--I know when I am really "into" what I do because I walk through solutions or interactions while sleeping. When I wake up, I feel like I was working.

    • itech profile image


      8 years ago from Dausa, India

      Short but an well organized article and really organized thing do much better. Gained little more knowledge.... And I will definitely apply this points on my future works.

      Thanks sir.

    • privateye2500 profile image


      10 years ago from Canada, USA, London

      In your photo there, you look a little bit too young to be writing all these hubs!

      Your parents must be SO proud of you!? LOL

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      10 years ago from United States

      Great hub, Paul! If it weren't for the lists I use and making the "pros and cons" list, I just don't think I would be able to make it through a day of decision making lol. Once I have the plan fully in tact, I print out the plan as a goal sheet and tape it to my desk so that it keeps me motivated to action on it. After all, the plan is useless if it simply sits on paper and you fail to take the actions to achieve it, right? Great tips you have given here!


    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      10 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I'll be off in a littlel while to plan with a friend re:website design and concept. Thanks for the tips. It may be just what we need. By the way, I also do reflect on what I feel when I make a decision. If I feel peace and not bothered inside, I know I am on the right track. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 

      10 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Good reflection on your thought process - and decision making. Many years ago a counselor showed me how to do the pros and cons when making a major decision. Write the pros and cons down for both sides, then amazingly on paper the answer usually becomes pretty clear.

      That has helped me a lot when making decisions.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Passionatepurpose profile image


      10 years ago from T.X.

      It is particularly hard to organize thoughts under stress. Meditation can be helpful for that. (that's "meditation", not "medication")

    • C.J. King profile image

      C.J. King 

      10 years ago from Southeast

      Great information. We can all use this info. Visualizing the end result works well for me ;-)

    • Paul Edmondson profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Edmondson 

      10 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      @Lela - Thanks so much for mentioning David Allen. I added a video I found on him speaking at Google. Great information on organizing thoughts and getting things done. Seems like he is the Guru on the subject.

    • Paul Edmondson profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Edmondson 

      10 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      I took a look at mind manager. Looks interesting, but I wish it were a web application although they support windows and mac.

    • RachelOrd profile image

      Rachel Ord 

      10 years ago from Palm Coast

      definitely a strange video...anyway, yeah thought organization, or plain old organization is very important to me in order to get things done. I have this problem of mulit-tasking, then getting too sidetracked, and not getting one thing fully done. I make lists, and check things off as I do them. If it is a thought I jot it down, then usually go back to it later and do what I can with the thought. I've heard of mind mapper too, but never tried it. I don't usually have as much time as the guy in the video did to think about my thoughts ;)

    • Paul Edmondson profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Edmondson 

      10 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      @raymond I'll have to check out mind manager. I'm curious how different it is from list management services.

      @Lela. I'm not familiar with David Allen style GTD lists. Right now I use Backpack from 37 signals for list management.

      @YoJDawg. Interesting you picked up on stress. On I did a short post on Stress and Jerry Yang last night.

    • Dottie1 profile image


      10 years ago from MA, USA

      Thank you Paul for this post. I took some time off from Hubpages to help my daughter through the college process. Now as I begin to write again I am having trouble organizing my thoughts. I have started a hubpage. As I like to think, beginning is half finished. Thanks for the much needed help. Dottie

    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 

      10 years ago from The Netherlands

      Hello Paul,

      when I need to organize my thoughts I often use a mindmapping program called mind manager (I am not affiliated to with it). It's very easy to use and it's a great tool to organize strategic choices to planning vacations. I even use it writing books and planning the content of a website. 


    • Lela Davidson profile image

      Lela Davidson 

      10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

      Thanks, Paul. This is a great reminder that time spent planning, time not spent on action, is crucial. It's so easy to get caught up in action and short change the planning aspects of any business. I have started using David Allen style GTD lists, but I still find the forward-thinking, planning aspects get pushed aside to take care of immediate needs. It's a constant battle.

    • profile image

      Daniel Pyle 

      10 years ago


      One of the biggest changes for me took place when I started using AZZ card file is an online system that will help you organize your links, email addresses, and everything else you would need online....also simpleology 101 is another great way to do this online...Mark Joyner developed it and if you know anything about online marketing then you certainly know the is great a complete 180 in my business.

    • smallbizpro profile image


      10 years ago from Toronto, ON

      Wise words indeed.

      I use the Pareto 80:20 rule in pretty much everything I do:

      * If I'm on a project, I'll spend 80% of the time researching and planning, and 20% of the time acting on that previous planning.

      Hasn't let me down yet! :)

    • YoJDawg profile image


      10 years ago from Arroyo Grande

      Mr. Pages, organizing thoughts are something i have to do everyday. At the end of the day you always have to remember that there is another day and not to stress. I recommend doing yoga as soon as you feel something starting to bother you. Ever since i got my Wii Fit, i've been doing yoga everyday.

    • jacobworld profile image

      Jakub Wawrzyniak 

      10 years ago from Ireland

      some good ideas . I have my own system just post it on the net

    • Paul Edmondson profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Edmondson 

      10 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      Yes, Robin says he's on drugs in the video. I don't know about that, but talking to a camera or a recorder is a technique that one of my friends uses to remember thoughts and to organize them later.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Paul - Iam trying to organise myself an online business plan at the moment - and writing it down on paper I think is my best approach Very weird video!


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