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A few thoughts on capture

The productivity methodology I teach stresses the value capturing everything that's on your mind - commitments, concerns, ideas, etc. - and processing them frequently to harvest the corresponding actions. I wanted to share a few capture quickies I thought you'd appreciate.

Tap into your "smartest self"

One way to look at capture is that it leverages when you do think of something, not when you think you should be creating. Our brains have wonderful abilities to associate ideas in novel ways, put unlikely things together, and come up with surprising abstractions, but they don't do so on demand or on a fixed "creativity schedule."

Thus, having a capture tool readily at hand (e.g., a notepad or voice recorder - see What's the best tool for ubiquitous capture?) capitalizes on when you're being smartest. Of course you have to have a system to reliably store and retrieve these thoughts, either as appropriate reminders for future action, or as an "idea bank" for future withdrawals (see Pickle jars, text files, and creative idea capture).

On insomnia: I give my one-on-one clients a Super Spy Night Pen for capture at night - not only is it a fun novelty, but I've found doing a mini brain dump really helps if thoughts are keeping you from getting to sleep. (And yes, it's geeky, but hey - what do you expect from a former NASA engineer? A pencil?)

Be the fastest gun in the west

It's crucial that idea capture be very fast and take as little effort as possible, so that you can get back to the task at hand. Otherwise distraction happens. I use a very efficient (if a bit geeky) text-based system (more at My Big-Arse Text File - a Poor Man's Wiki+Blog+PIM), but there are many other tools available, including GyroQ, which Eric Mack enjoys.


As I tell my workshop participants:
Capture your thoughts or they will capture you.
In other words, who's in control - you or your thinking?

How about you - any favorite "capture and release" tips or tricks? Let me know!

Reader Comments (1)

Longtime reader Don Gallagher reminded me to point to my recent post asking about using [ Digital voice recorders for transcription | http://www.matthewcornell.org/blog/2006/10/question-for-readers-digital-voice.html ]. I'm still investigating them, but haven't yet made a decision. In the meantime I'm using my trusty analog cassette recorder for making book notations. I must admit that voice recognition would help to take a big dent out of my backlog of tapes to transcribe, i.e., something compatible with [ Naturally Speaking | http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/ ].

October 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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