How should you capture to-dos, notes, and so on?

March 5, 2023

Last week, I shared with you the four phases of day-to-day productivity:

  1. Capture
  2. Organize
  3. Plan
  4. Do

This week, in my live course’s group sessions and on our community platform, we spent quite a bit of time discussing capturing and organizing. People have been figuring out which tool(s) to use to capture their to-dos, thoughts, notes, and so on.

Some people like to capture everything into one place and then sort through it later. For example, one person captures everything into their OmniFocus inbox and then, during their weekly review, decides what is a to-do (and should stay in OmniFocus), what is a note (and should go into a notes app), and so on. Someone else does the same thing, but with the Drafts app. This is a fantastic way to do things.

I try to organize a bit right away. Often, I know whether what I’m capturing is a to-do (and should go into Things) or a note (and should go into Notes) or consists of thoughts and feelings (and should go into Day One). But sometimes, I don’t know exactly what I’m capturing. When that happens, I’ll write down what I’m thinking either in the Things inbox or in a new note. It doesn’t matter which of the two I choose because either way, during my weekly review, I’ll see it and triage!

And that’s the key: capture everything that’s worth capturing and then organize what you captured during your weekly review. Periodic triaging is essential. If you only capture, capture, capture and never organize, you’ll accumulate an anxiety-inducing list that’s not very actionable.

Do you have a plan for capturing to-dos, notes, thoughts, and so on? Do you know what goes where? Are you doing weekly reviews to make sure everything ends up in the right place, even if it wasn’t all exactly in the right place to begin with? Is capturing easy and friction-free? Do you need to install some browser extensions or use a different app to make capturing easier?

Have a think about it and improve your capture system if necessary. You’ll earn the time back multiple times over.

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