Have you ever noticed that some of your most innovative thoughts have happened at the oddest times? The reason for this is that your brain wasn't occupied with your ongoing "to do" list, so it was finally free to explore new ideas.
If you want to do more creative thinking, then you need to establish a system for organizing your tasks. Begin by collecting them in an in box. What should you do with the items once you've accumulated them? According to David Allen, the best-selling author of Getting Things Done, the first step is to ask, what is it? Is it actionable? If you can't act on it, then put it into one of three categories: reference, such as a noteworthy article;someday-maybe, which is a task that you might do later; and trash. The filing principles we're discussing here work equally well with manila folders and a circular file, but in our example we'll be using Microsoft Outlook.