The Notion Tool facilitates Idea Capture and Development.
Look up the word notion and you get: “A notion is an idea, often vague and sometimes fanciful. A notion is lighter than a theory and embraces a whimsy that a simple idea never could.” To me a notion is an idea in its infancy, undeveloped, perhaps crude and likely not what it will end up as after sufficient intellectual noodling. The first step is to capture those ideas. the Notion Tool facilitates Idea Capture and Development.  It is a simple tool to help you be creative.
I get notions pretty regularly;  they come and go when I’m walking and listening to podcasts or in the midst of doing some development.  Too light to be an idea yet but, worthy of a little intellectual noodling – Is it feasible? Silly? Worth the investment of time? Answer yes, and just maybe it can become reality.
I’ve had a notion (pardon me having fun) that many ideas worthy of noodling are lost because they occur to us when we are swamped with work.  I’ve spent countless hours in front of a spreadsheet rushing to get something done or struggling building some tricky code.  No time to stop and get that thought in my head down – looking back, I have to wonder how many were lost? The Notion tool is my solution for all of us spreadsheet cubicle slaves who ask if ‘I would like to try this’, ‘I wonder if I could?’ or better yet ‘wouldn’t it be nice if. ‘ It may be  new feature or way of doing something. Perhaps some simple automation that might make things easier or less tedious.  Nothing earth shattering mind you sometimes just good ideas.  That’s me talking for you, it could be something entirely different, it could be that next Kick Starter.
The Notion Tool is an Excel form that uses an ODBC connection to act as a front end to a simple Access Database. It uses one table called tbl_notions. Its design is very deliberate. It has only a couple of fields but I believe it can be powerful.

To the left is the list of notions (in the grey boxes) with a status of Open or Researching – change the checkboxes that are clicked and the list will update accordingly.  Usually those notions that are still alive are what you’d like to see when you open the Notion Tool so Open and Researching are the defaults.

If you double click on one of those Notions,  the form will populate it with the notion.  You can then edit or delete the Notion.  In this case, I double clicked on Blog Best Dashboards and my idea for a blog article on best dashboards has opened.  I’ve been working with a client for some time now and the dashboard developed for a series of construction projects is quite impressive.  I got to thinking about a blog post Creating the Best Dashboard – I think people looking to create a dashboard would benefit from seeing it and understanding why it is an excellent example. You’ll note it asks for a short name, a place for details and a status.  That’s pretty much all you need to capture.

Now the more VBA and Excel form astute will say you could have used a combobox or listbox for the idea list.  I chose to build what I call my ‘Book Stack’ of ideas because I want the Notions to be out there in front of you, inspiring development at all times.

How can I use this tool?
1. Create a directory to keep the “Notion Tool” WorkSheet and “Notion Tool” Access Database
2. Download the zip file below and extract the contents into the directory you created.  The Excel file and Access
Database must be in the same directory
3. Add the following line into the Worksheet Object of your Personal.xlsb file
 Workbooks.Open C:\Your new directory goes here\Notion Tool.xlsb, False
a) First Make sure you have the developer tab visible
How to show the developer tab (click here)
b) hit the Alt + F11 keys to show the visual basic editor
c) add the line above as discussed.  Remember to change the directory to the one you have just created

a new menu item will appear in the Add-ins Pane
The code you added will automatically open the Notions Tool when you open Excel.  It will add a new menu Pane Add-Ins, and you will see that the Notions Tool will always be just a click away.  It needs to be easy if you are to capture all those great notions. If you have any issues getting it to work contact me here, I will be happy to help you out.
You can download the tool here.  We ask for your email address so we can send you any updates to the tool.  We do not ever share emails addresses and take privacy very seriously.
Ray Mills
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Raymond Mills, M.B.A., M.S.  has spent over 20 years of his career as Accountant, Investment Bank and Credit Card Technical Auditor/ Data Analyst.  His specialty was using Excel to get Big Databases including Teradata, Oracle,  Squel Server and Sybase to give up their secrets. Ray has said “I love nothing better than using VBA to unleash the power of Microsoft Office.” You can contact Ray @ 484 574-3190 or by emailing him Here

If you have a challenge with Excel, Access or Word and would like to speak with Ray,   You can get his contact details by clicking here: Contact Me