Open Your Mind With Mental Notes

Are you stuck on a project and you can’t seem to finish it? Maybe you’re creating a new product and can’t seem to find a direction. If so, meet Mental Notes, a little box of goodness designed to find creative solutions to problems. More specifically, the box houses 50 cards each featuring an aspect of human behavior based on research from game design to neuroscience. Some of the cards include themes like curiosity, reputation and limited choice. I chose to use limited choice for today’s example because of how applicable it is to many situations.

When you first open the box you will notice the cards definitely have a game-like feel to them, sort of like a playing card game. The layout of the card is simple to follow: the top featuring the title in bold, in our case “Limited Choice”. Underneath the intent is listed, there are 4 intents used throughout the cards: persuasion, memory, attention, and understanding, and in our case we have “Persuasion”.  While there are no formal grouping to the cards, each card contains one (or more) keywords conveying how the card can be used, which helped give me direction when I used the cards. I now know that our card “Limited Choice” should be used to persuade people to use our product. Under the intent we are given the definition in italics, in our case, “We’re more likely to make a choice when there are fewer options“, which instantly made me think about simplifying my project because maybe I”m trying to solve to many problems at once. The definition can be used in many different ways, for example if I was trying to sell a product maybe I should offer fewer version to make it easier for customers to decide. The power in the game lies within the many different ways people can perceive the cards, because since there is no right way to use the ideas you are free to apply the them to any problem you encounter. The middle displays a small drawing which ended up helping me tremendously by showing the idea in a visual representation (a big plus for all of the visual learners out there!). In this case, the image showed several people in line for a buffet, which of course featured few selections. If nothing else, the images intrigued me to read about the image, because my eyes tend to glaze over if all I see is text. Lastly, the card features Application Ideas at the bottom, which shows some advice or asks questions in order to start your brainstorming. In this case, the card asked us, “For each page of your website, how many choices do you offer? Can this be reduced?”. As I read the card I could already feel my mind going in a different direction. If your ever stuck all you really need to do is close your eyes, pick up a card and ask your self “How can I use [card] to [goal], and you will starting thinking different too.

In my opinion, Mental Notes is the kindle you need in a meeting. They help start the fire that is brainstorming and can take your project (and mind) in new directions. The creator of Mental Notes Stephen Anderson is a passionate design consultant who speaks and writes about his customer experiences. He has spent the last several years developing Mental Notes because he felt “In the midst of a busy project, it can be all too easy to focus on the essentials and lose track of the nuances that distinguish great products”.

If you aren’t lucky enough to already own a set, then I only have one question for you readers, Where do you find inspiration for your projects? If you answer this question below you will automatically be entered for a chance to win your own copy of Mental Notes! This is our month’s book club giveaway (yes, we know this technically isn’t a book, we are just going mental!). Let the comment love commence!

3 Replies to “Open Your Mind With Mental Notes”

  1. I have a grab bag of inspiration techniques. A few of my favorites are word maps, photo walks, group brainstorm sessions, and the tried and true sleeping on it.

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