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Too many collection points?

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  • Too many collection points?

    I know have many ways to capture my thoughts as they come to me (except in the shower, I haven't figured out a good method in there yet, but I digress). I have a shirt-pocket sized memo pad and pen. I have a palm pilot with a voice memo feature. I have various notebooks, index cards, post it notes, pens, etc all over the house and office. So basically, I'm never without a collection tool. I find it kind of amazing how many thoughts I'm capturing now that just got lost before I discovered GTD.

    The problem I find myself having is that once I write something down or record it, I don't always get it into my inbox in time. Sometimes it waits until the next weekly review (where I go through everything) to get it into my system. Sometimes this is OK, but sometimes I find something that I should have taken care of earlier. How do you make sure that everything important is getting processed outside of the weekly reviews?

  • #2
    Whenever I return to my office, one of my first acts is to put whatever collection tool I took with me into my inbox, where it gets processed within 24 hours or so.

    Likewise, when I'm actually in my office, my inbox gets a steady stream of reminder notes, ideas, pieces of paper with sticky notes on them, etc. Again, these get processed within 24 hours.

    This is part of why I like paper collection better than electronic collection. My 3x5 memo pad defines an atomic unit of information, which lets me process my inbox in one or two item chunks as I have time during the day. Putting my entire PDA in my inbox (physically or logically) doesn't work nearly as well.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      I have one capture tool that is pretty ubiquitous. At work, it's a legal pad, and I pretty much NEVER capture w/my palm as it is too slow.

      I also make sure that whenever I'm in front of my inbox, I dump everything that has gotten collected. I pretty much empty my pockets and throw everything in there. I also carry around a set of plastic folders (a la DA), with one specifically designated as "in".

      I don't think that it really matters how many capture tools you have, as long as whatever you capture makes it into one of your (as few as possible) collection buckets.

      I think that a large part of "GTD Success" revolves around the habits (i.e. getting everything into "In", processing timely, reviewing weekly, etc.)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by gnugrep
        I know have many ways to capture my thoughts as they come to me. . .

        The problem I find myself having is that once I write something down or record it, I don't always get it into my inbox in time.
        I don't get many urgent actionable items through my paper inbox. So I don't really have to process the paper more than once a week, but then I must make sure that the actions I think of during the week get into my system right away.

        So if I think of something actionable I need to do, I enter it into my system in my PDA right away. It doesn't wait in line for processing along with all the other junk in my inbox. I configured my software so that I press one button, tap once, and start writing. Within seconds, the action I have to do is in my NA list and off my mind.

        I also review my NA lists each morning over coffee. I often think of more actions to enter as I read over the existing ones.

        With some practice I have gotten very fast at entering stuff into my PDA. I'm just now trialing some desktop software, and I'm much slower at entering the items in the desktop, even with the typing and keyboard shortcuts, because I'm not used to it yet.

        I don't enter every idea that pops into my head into the PDA right away -- only actions/projects I need to do. Other ideas get typed into Google scratchpad, scrawled on every imaginable kind of paper or post-its -- whatever's handy.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gnugrep
          (except in the shower, I haven't figured out a good method in there yet, but I digress).
          Try dry erase markers on the shower wall!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by andersons
            So if I think of something actionable I need to do, I enter it into my system in my PDA right away. It doesn't wait in line for processing along with all the other junk in my inbox. I configured my software so that I press one button, tap once, and start writing. Within seconds, the action I have to do is in my NA list and off my mind.
            I also follow the above rule about entering it into my system right away. Random thoughts or a braindump may not be important, so these can obviously wait for processing. Par example, I take notes before I fall asleep aside my bed. If there is an important note, I will put it where I will see it (on my wallet). It is now a “physical” reminder and I don’t have to worry about it.

            I also take the view that “less is best” when having inboxes. I don’t like having too many e-mail inboxes or miscellaneous notes just lying around, collected in boxes that I cannot check because I have too many of them. However, I do have a few of them I have to check but they are a system and I trust my system and know nothing falls through the cracks.

            I figure, high priority “things” are weeded out in special ways. More importantly, added to my palm (system) right away!


            [Remember, sometimes having random thoughts sit or “incubate” is an important feature of creative people. Of course, you need to watch for high priority item of importance. But to allow a thought to incubate is important because you can come back to it later and it may be more important, or just trash. A strong creative thought will stand the test of time, the weaker ones will not, remember that in your notes system.]
            Last edited by arthur; 10-08-2005, 02:24 PM.

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