How Do You Capture Ideas on the Go?

Quiet time often produces the best thinking because it helps thoughts bubble up to the top of your mind.

You know the places, in the shower, on the can, lying in bed. Don’t act all surprised.

I often get these moments when I’m alone in the car, especially if I’m driving on a highway. Even if the radio is playing, my mind will wander, and I frequently want to capture the thoughts.

There’s a huge, obvious problem though; I’m busy driving a car.

I used to dial up my work number and leave a voicemail, which worked really well because it could happen hands-free. Our universal inboxes deliver voicemail as an audio file, so my epiphanies would be waiting for me when I got back to my desk.

Lately though, voicemail has been cranky. It stops recording when I pause and asks me if I’m done. This means I either have to call back or rerecord, which means using the keypad. Not very hands-free anymore.

I found an Android app that can record and send audio, but again, it’s not as hands free as I’d like.

Do any of you have this problem? I can’t be the only one who thinks in the car.

I’m interested in a solution and also to know where you do your best thinking. Find the comments.




  1. You could try a voice memo. And doesn’t Google have something that converts voice to text? Otherwise it’s things like Evernote.

  2. I did an 11-day silent retreat earlier this year where not only I had to put my electronic devices in a safe (which is pretty standard), I also wasn’t allowed to bring along any reading material, pen, or paper. This was so unlike “me” that it felt very weird. I mean, I love ideas and knowledge, and I had no way to capture any of my own thoughts for 11…10…9…8… etc. days. I learnt to trust my memory and appreciate the power of reflection. I like to think I had some great ideas there, ones that have proven to be pretty important.

  3. I use reQall ( in a similar manner to your voicemail example. Call reqall from your phone and use the voice activated system to add and review items. Voice-to-text transcripts of new items are sent to email with audio attachments and are available via the web. They also have a iPhone and Android app and integration to Evernote which I’ve not used.

  4. Funny you mention Google’s transcription service, since I discussed it in another post yesterday. Anyway, I’m trying an app that records and can send the audio to GMail (or other services). More steps than voicemail was. Evernote never caught on for me. Maybe I should try it again.

  5. Wow, no pen or paper, that’s pretty harsh. I would need something to keep track of all that deep thinking 🙂 Sounds relaxing.

  6. Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to check it out, sounds a bit like Sandy only w voice vs. email commands. I’ve no idea why Evernote never caught on for me, possibly bc I used to have a voicemail solution 🙂 Maybe I need to go back to it.

  7. I don’t. If I can’t remember (or reconstruct) it, it can’t have been important. Do sometimes miss pithy comments on blogs later, though, usually if something captures my attention I’ll cut and paste, sometimes I’m slow on the uptake. There was a great riposte to a key/value post I saw yesterday, gone forever. But I was discounting it, as I had noticed the post from another blog I had run across, and was chuckling that they had posted a link to a year+ old post.

  8. Wow, I don’t have that kind of concentration and free memory sectors anymore. I’m totally confident that a great idea would be lost in the clutter if I don’t bookmark it somehow. I have the same problem with reminders, post-it notes everywhere to keep me from forgetting.

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