The Tools I Use for "Capture Everything"
A while back I hypothesized one of the reasons people, especially those with ADHD, may resist capturing anything and everything that comes to their mind. In this post I discuss the tools I use to capture it all.
A Hybrid Approach
My preferred method of capture is to dictate to electronic devices and have them write for me. Speaking comes most naturally to me, and it's certainly quicker than taking out my phone, opening an app, and actually typing. That said, I do employ good old "pen and paper" as needed.
Electronic Tools in My Capture Everything System
Apple Watch and iPhone
Most of my capture is done using my Apple Watch. Second to that is the iPhone 6s+ to which the watch is paired. I have to admit to a slight bit of judgement prior to capture in the form of, "where does this belong?" If a thought seems to belong on a shopping list, I'll say something like, "Hey Siri, add cat litter to my Target list". If instead, it's something I need to remember to do today, you might hear me say something such as "Hey Siri, remind me to take out the chicken at 5:30 this afternoon." Anything else that isn't time sensitive or has a seemingly obvious list, goes into a general capture bucket; "Hey Siri, add draft blog post about capture tools to my capture list'". Yes, that is how this blog post came to be.
In addition to my Apple devices, I use a few Amazon Echos. Some might say I'm an Echo junkie, but I'll confess to having 4 Echos in my house. The reason for this is so that I'm never far away from being able to yell at a device to remember something for me.
- I have 2 Echo Dots, one in the Kitchen and one in the Living Room
- One original Echo resides in the bedroom and takes on the duty of my alarm clock
- My final device, the Echo Show* was received as a Christmas present and sits on my desk
"Alexa, remind me to draft blog posts for the upcoming week", was uttered by me last evening as I was trying to get to sleep. While I do have a fancy triggering mechanism in place that moves the tasks from Amazon over to my main capture list, there's no reason I couldn't just make a routine of checking the Task section within the Alexa app on a routine basis.
Apps for Capturing it All
Most of what's spoken to my devices is deposited into Apple's Reminders app. I have a few lists :
- Stores I go to often (e.g. Costco, Target, Grocery)
- "Capture" gets my random stuff
- "Tasks" for things I intend to do soon (this month)
- Things that are timed go to "Automatic"
My setup may seem hopelessly complicated, but rest assured I'll be posting in the future about HOW I set things up. What's important here is to decide for yourself how you want to capture your ideas, tasks, and timed necessities.
If This Then That, IF for short, is an app that monitors a range of services and takes action when it sees new data. I primarily use it to move data from inbound buckets into appropriate places.
- Anything on my Amazon todo list gets moved to my Tasks list in Reminders automatically
Anything that's not captured by voice goes into an app I use on my iPhone called Drafts. This app can be as simple or as complex as you'd like. It can be used to simply capture ideas, review them, and then manually move them into a task system without too much configuration. Incidentally, this app also imports the stuff added to my Reminders "capture" list. When I'm in the car, I use the Apple Watch app to add items to Drafts.
I use Drafts in two ways: the first is to capture, without judgement. The second is when I go back to review what's been captured and judge where it needs to go. Is it a task I'd like to do sometime soon? If so, it heads off to my task list. Is it something I just need to remember, like a conversation with my coach? Those things head off to Evernote. Is it something that I may or may not want to do someday, but that I thought about? Those head off into my task list's "Someday" bucket.
Paper Can Be the Quickest Way to Capture
There are times, of course, where I take an analog approach to capturing the ideas my brain seems to continually throw my way. While I prefer electronic capture, I use the following tools when going the electronic route may not be convenient, or appropriate.
To limit the possibility of information getting lost, I limit the number of places I might capture a paper-based note. Receipts, my pocket notebook, and any notes written in the shower wind up in my inbox ASAP.
* I'll be doing a review of the Echo Show in the next month or so. I like it so far, but I'm not sure its price is justifiable.
Standard disclaimer: Just because you read something on the internet does not mean it's great advice for you. Remember to experiment with what "sounds good" to you, and discard the rest. Also, please pardon the lack of perfection.