Capturing ideas on an iPhoneParticularly true if you work in any sort of creative field, but equally valuable no matter how you choose to earn your paycheck, ideas are what make this world go round. For better or for worse, though, you have no real control over when inspiration might strike. You could be on your way to an important meeting, you could be out to lunch, or you might be at the playground with the kids. Wherever you are, whenever it is, you need an appropriate strategy for capturing ideas.

While you may not always be in front of your computer — nor should you — it’s pretty well a given that you will have your smartphone with you close at hand for pretty well all of your waking hours. As much as you might prefer a traditional paper and pen, having some great iPhone apps for jotting down your inspirations as the muse visits is very good idea indeed.

JOT: Just Open & Type

Just open up the app and start typing

Just open up the app and start typing

For a no nonsense, no frills approach to notetaking, it doesn’t get much better than the accurately named JOT (free), which stands for Just Open and Type. And that’s precisely the idea behind this iPhone app. While it is positioned as a journal app, and can be very suitably used for that purpose, its lightweight and fast-loading approach make it tremendous for capturing ideas as they come to you. There’s no need to click a “new entry” button, because the app opens immediately toa new note. Each entry is tagged with the date and time, and the app automatically locks up when you leave it.

iThoughts

Capturing ideas with mindmaps

Capturing ideas with mindmaps

Not all of your ideas can be suitably summed up in words alone. For something a little more robust, you might try iThoughts ($11.99) for iPhone and iPad. This mindmapping tool empowers you to organize your ideas, and their relationships with one another, in a much more visual sort of way. This is perfect for brainstorming, goal setting, and summarizing. You can both import from and export to a variety of different formats too, so your mindmaps are not trapped within the confines of a single mobile app.

Drafts

A distraction-free notekeeping app for iPhone

A distraction-free notekeeping app for iPhone

Going about the problem of capturing ideas on the fly in a manner very similar to that of JOT, Drafts ($4.99) also opens immediately to a blank page where you can start typing out your thoughts right away. The typing environment is distraction free and you can choose from different themes to suit your preference. The resulting note can then be easily output to Twitter, Facebook, Mail, Message or Calendar. It can also be exported to Dropbox, Google Drive or Evernote.

Skitch by Evernote

Scribble on images to better capture your ideas

Scribble on images to better capture your ideas

Just like its desktop counterpart, Skitch (Free) makes it really easy for you to annotate photos, screenshots and even PDF documents. Let’s say that you have a great idea for how you want to rearrange your desk at work and you want to share this idea with some of your colleagues. Snap a photo, use arrows and doodles to your hearts content, and send the resulting image via whatever messaging system you prefer. This is particularly exceptional for diagrams.

Microsoft OneNote

A deceptively powerful Microsoft solution

A deceptively powerful Microsoft solution

They say that you should think of Microsoft OneNote (Free) lijke its “your very own digital notebook.” Microsoft says you can use it to “seize that moment of inspiration” by capturing just about anything, organizing those notes in whatever way works best for you. One of the best features is its ability to capture whiteboards, even correcting for skew when the picture is taken at an angle. OneNote is also great for scribbling notes or sketching ideas, just as you would on a physical sheet of paper.

Quick Notes

A minimalist approach to accessible notes

A minimalist approach to accessible notes

If you’re looking for an iPhone app that is not only great at capturing ideas, but also making sure those ideas are as easily accessible as possible, look no further than Quick Notes. The core functionality is simple enough: it opens up like a notepad where you can quickly jot down your ideas. What sets this app apart is that your quick notes can then appear in your iPhone’s Notifications Center. This means you can get at them quickly and easily, all without actually opening the app itself.

Image credit: Jm3 / Flickr

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