Capturing those butterfly thoughts

Posted on by Mike Evans

LIST KEEPING has always been one of my passions and I have become a great believer in David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) philosophy. But before you can organise, you need to marshal your thoughts and your tasks and be able to view them in a form which encourages you to get down to work. I've blogged before on GTD systems (such as the excellent Mac/iPhone OmniFocus which I used daily) and there are many excellent ways of categorising your data once you've recorded it.

I'm forever indebted to the industrious Andrew Mason of DidIgethtingsdone? who is absolutely dedicated to the GTD concept and his blog contains a wealth of information to help anyone who believes in good management and organisation. 

The very first step in any GTD system is capturing your thoughts. We all have these flashes of "must do that or must do this" and within seconds the thought has fluttered off like a butterfly. As you get older, the butterflies get faster and more adept at evading the memory. These thoughts, which you know you ought to record, keep coming back time and again and are usually forgotten if you don't do something about it. So a quick-and-easy method of jotting down thoughts and ideas is essential. You need your own personal and portable inbox.

Some swear by a voice note, either on a dedicated recorder or on the iPhone (check out the wonderful reQall for iPhone if you want an easy-to-use voice jotter) or on bits of paper. For quick computer or iPhone entry, OmniFocus takes some beating. The latest version of OmniFocus for iPhone is much improved and the inbox icon comes up almost instantaneously so you can get that thought entered while the program is loading. Excellent stuff, Omni. However, paper, in the form of a small notebook, still wins over electronic methods in my opinion, although it is a narrow victory because of the many new ideas coming up thick and fast.

And pre-eminent among notebooks is the Moleskine range, now available in stationers and bookshops worldwide. Like Andrew and many others, I'm addicted to Moleskines and I always have one in my pocket, clipped with a thin plastic golf pencil (another of Andrew's discoveries). 

Now I can whip out the Moleskine and record my thoughts before the butterflies have moved on. When I have a moment I transcribe my notes into OmniFocus, either on the iPhone or the Mac. I hope I never need to forget anything ever again. Probably wishful thinking but...

Things might be getting interesting. This week Engaget launched a quest for the best thought-capturing device and we can all look forward to the results. Maybe something new will come up. Must make a note to check next week.

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