Creativity 1… 2… 3… Just an Idea

Friends, family, co-workers, and readers here at In My Own Style often ask me – “How do I come up with the things I do?” or “How do I spark creativity?”

They ask me to teach them how to be more creative.  They want to know my secrets, my sources, my methods… I could tell them to go buy a few books on creativity on Amazon or to take a creativity course at a local college or online, but they are unnecessary. Learning to be creative doesn’t have to cost you a thing in the way of time or money.  All you really need to be more creative is pretty simple.

Simple as 1… 2… 3…

I’ve boiled my process down to 3 easy steps and I am going to show you how I get my ideas and keep track of them in this series of 3 posts.

One step for each post so that you have time to think about how you can implement or tweak the steps or part of them into your own way of doing things and be more creative in everything you do in your life.


Creativity: Step 1 – Just An Idea

Have a Stack of 3 x 5 Cards Handy – I keep 3 x 5 cards close at hand at all times – in my purse, on my bedside table, in my kitchen, in my car, on my desk, and even in my bathroom as ideas can strike at anytime and it always seems at the wrong time. Like when I am in the shower, in the middle of a dream, or walking down a city street.

When I have 3 x 5 cards at hand, it is easy to write a note to remind myself of the thought or idea that popped into my head or something I saw when out and about.  These cards give me assurance -so that when I do have the time to think about it more, I know where to find it so I can put the idea into action.  If I didn’t do this, most of the projects and ideas you read about here on In My Own Style would have never come to fruition.

Having the idea documented on a 3 x 5 card makes it permanent and eases my mind knowing if I forget I have back-up and best of all – I always have fresh ideas.

I use these cards for all sorts of ideas – not just for decorating. If I see someone on the street and I adore the way they pulled different pieces together to create a stunning outfit – I jot down what they were wearing or take a photo with my phone. My mind is constantly bombarded with images and I don’t have enough brain power to process it all so I need to do this so I won’t lose the fleeting inspiration.

I like the 3 x 5 cards better than scraps of paper as they are uniform in size and each card represents one idea that is just as important as the one on the next card.  I put them in a little basket on my desk so they are easy to retrieve when needed.

I attached the label I made with two brass fasteners. I centered the label, then used the closed tip of a sharp pair of scissors to create a small hole in the basket for the brass fasteners to go through.  If you would like the free download  of labels you can find it at this post:


When I have time, I file the cards into my file drawer under their respective category – lighting, fabric, colors, patterns, re-purposing, table settings, etc.

When I need inspiration on how to re-do an old brass chandelier, I browse through my lighting file for an idea.

Ideas on 3 x 5 cards may seem simple, yet everything starts with a single thought and blossoms from there.

What is your creative process?  How do you keep track of all the ideas that inspire you?  I am always inspired by the way other people do things – so do tell.

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  2. Parents of a Dozen says:

    I really like the 3×5 card idea! I am always writing things on what ever I could find. Then I transfer them to my BOOK, if I don’t loose it first or it gets thrown out. I have a note book I keep EVERYTHING organized in with tabs so I could find them easy.

    1. Over the years I have tried many different methods, but I have found the 3 x 5 cards really work for me. I hope your book never gets thrown out. I have made that mistake by accident or have thrown ideas out that I thought I would never use. I wish I had them all as you never know.

  3. This is a fun idea, Diane. I used to do this back in my Sidetracked Home Executive days and it really works! I think I’ll start it again. Like the reader that commented earlier, I too LOVE pinterest! Such a fun, visual way to hang onto lovely ideas. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Simply Sara says:

    What an easy and cute idea!!! Love it!

  5. abeachcottage says:

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing at Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays :)

  6. Thanks for the great tips Diane. You are much better than Martha Stewart, you put your own certain flair to everything which I have always thought Martha lacked.

    1. Hi Denise-

      Thanks for the nice compliment and I agree about Martha she may be fun in real life, but on TV she comes across so stiff.

  7. Great idea…I keep my ideas in several binders labeled …decorating ideas, photographing props & poses & blog links. I tear pictures out of magazines for inspiration and put in clear sleeves in each binder. I also have a notebook at my computer to jot down where I linked up or where I saw a great idea to try later! Thanks for the notecard idea!

  8. I can’t tell you how inspiring your posts are. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge with us. I work full-time in retail management and then come home and become a full time wife and mother. I don’t have a lot of “me” time left over and usually by the time I find it those great ideas I have had are long gone. This is a wonderful method for keeping track of those “a-ha” moments that visit with us all!

    Thanks again,

  9. says:

    Can you share what you use to file the cards in? I know me, they would end up all over and I would use some for grocery lists.

    I always need ways to organize some of those crazy ideas! Thaanks.

  10. Katharine says:

    I have a notebook that I keep ideas in. Lately I’ve been pinning the picture of the idea, that I see online, on Pinterest. I got so used to that process that when I was looking at Better Homes & Garden I saw an idea I liked and thought..oh I need to pin that..which reminds me…I haven’t done that yet. I”m a very visual person so seeing the pictures really inspires me. I even did this for a ATC swap. My theme is secret garden and I’ve been looking for pictures for inspiration and then Googling images. Most of the images are from The Graphic Fairy. Then if I’m successful putting something together I blog about it. I’ll admit I don’t see everything done but it helps me feel that I’m moving forward. Now I need to get back to pinning and to working on my ATC. Do you use Pinterest? If you do…I want to follow you, like I follow your blog. :)

  11. I am with you…I have to jot and ideas down!!

    Thank you so much for your sweet comments on yesterdays post. It was so nice of you to be encouraging when you are going through such a hard time as well! I appreciate it so much.
    We are moving to the Syracuse, NY area.
    Like you said, this is not a permanent thing and you and your husband will be finding the perfect thing very soon. I will be thinking of you!

  12. For me, once a creative idea enters my head, I usually carry it out right away. Or if that’s not possible, it somehow stays filed in my brain until I can implement it. For me, no need to jot it down, put it on computer, etc. That’s for things I’m going to do that require making, sewing, building, doing. I guess this includes mostly things that you can feel/touch. However, for things like my story/poetry/musical ideas, yup…gotta get those down on paper or sometimes it’s hard to recall them. Also, another thing that keeps my ideas in the forefront is not getting too wide-spread. I try not to work on too many projects at one time.

  13. Sallie @ Texas Cottage says:

    The index cards are a great idea. I keep a blank book to write down my ideas. I divide it into several sections according to my interests at the time. I started using this method after teaching my students to use a writer’s notebook to write down all their ideas.

    1. Hi Sallie –

      Thanks for sharing. As a teacher you must have tons of ideas pass through your mind all the time. Every so often I tweak my files according to my interests also. I try to keep my “not so interested anymore” file in a box in my basement – just in case I ever change my mind.

  14. I think its a great idea! I just try to look at something and think outside the box to create something I have never seen before. Other times I just want to do something that pops in my head so I keep a pad and pen near the computer and if something is inspiring I write it down.

    1. Thanks for commenting Deneen-

      Writing the ideas down is the key to remembering no matter what you use. My husband uses his computer to store his ideas. I need to see mine and hold the idea in my hand. I guess it is a visual thing for me doing it with the cards and pen.