One of the great takeaways from the GTD system is the concept of a ubiquitous capture device.
It’s an absurdly complicated name for a very simple thing: having some way of writing down or recording ideas as they come to you throughout the day. (Ubiquitous simply means it’s always there in case you need it.) For instance, you could use a pen and paper, an iPhone, or a pocket voice recorder.
This practice is something that I’ve found to be very beneficial and something that I would strongly recommend to anyone.
Thoughts Pop Up Anytime
It would be nice if thoughts occurred to you only at opportune moments, but that’s not how our brains work. I can’t count the number of times that a great idea struck me as I was driving, cleaning, or doing something which let my mind wander a little.
Other times, things I see during the day spark thoughts in me. Ideas for blog posts, for instance, come to me as I’m listening to the radio, observing life, or dealing with my own productivity challenges during the workday.
In the moment, I think that surely I won’t forget these thoughts. But the truth is my record of actually remembering isn’t that good.
If I don’t capture these ideas, there’s a good chance they’ll be lost forever.
Many people think they don’t need a capture device because they don’t let important tasks slip between the cracks. Major work projects get completed. Obligations are met.
But that’s a very narrow view of the use of a capture device.
The thoughts that hit me throughout the day aren’t remember to call Bob about the client report or buy milk when you’re at the store. It’s not simply about adding more to-dos to my list.
Instead, a flash of clarity hits, and I think of a creative solution to a problem. I think of a great illustration to the lesson I’m teaching on Sunday. I think of a particular application of scripture to mention in my next blog post. I think of a new avenue of income in my business.
A capture device isn’t just about keeping you from stumbling. It’s also about allowing you to flourish by holding on to those passing but brilliant thoughts.
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