Tuesday Tool Time – Capture part II

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I originally planned to cover the second C of Capture, Configure, Control today, but I decided to do another post about Capture. To me, Capture is the piece where it’s easiest to go awry. It’s far too easy to use the email inbox as a place of Capture, and that rarely works well for anyone. I know; I have tried. I would make a folder called TO DO (notice the *’s to make sure it’s at the top of the folder list), and into that folders, emails would go….to die.

There were several problems with that system. It wasn’t trustworthy, it wasn’t frictionless, and when looking for an email, there is a significant chance of contact switching/rabbit hole diving. The first problem was that as more emails got added to the folder, the things that needed to be done would travel further and further down. So I would have in the back of my mind a general idea that there was something from two weeks ago due this week, but not a concrete idea. So, the main issue with using the email inbox as a Capture tool was that I did not trust it. I still tried to use my mind to hold the task, which meant open loops, in David Allen terms, and open loops are the devil when trying to do focused work. And then there is the trying to get what I’ve captured into the next phase, configure. If you can’t find it, you can’t schedule it. And, while looking for it, there are all the other shiny emails that can be configured instead.

Now, sliding an email into a new folder is pseudo frictionless. But anything I replaced it with had to also be frictionless. I propose the humble note card. I have stacks of them everywhere, and when something pops into my mind, I scribble it on a card and tuck it in my planner. Then, at the end of the day, I can go through the cards during my shutdown, configure the tasks, and recycle. Shutdown complete* and I can trust that everything is taken care of.

This happened today while I was writing my morning pages. I had a thought about what I needed to do with a webpage design I am working on at the day job. So I scribbled it on a card, tucked it in my planner, and went on with my writing. Later, when I get to the office, I will put the card with my time block plan for the day, and I fully trust that it will be remembered and executed later. That is the magic of a good capture system. At work, I also use OneNote as a capture tool; I can easily send documents, emails, and other notes to notebooks that I have set up by role. It’s easy to access from all my devices as I do travel some for work, and again, frictionless and trusted.

*Shutdown Complete is a Newportian phrase from his Time Block Planner.
http://timeblockplanner.com If you need to get things done, I highly recommend you give time block planning a try. I will write more about it and how I use it when we tackle the Control part of the plan.