The Ubiquitous Capture Tool [UCT]

In a recent post on Getting yourself organised, I talked about capturing everything and processing it later. I wanted to expand on this capturing concept a little more as it is so important if you really want to get yourself organised and stress free.

The tool you decide to use for capturing your tasks, commitments and ideas is possibly the most important piece of equipment you need if you are going to get yourself organised. Without a capture tool, you are not going to be able to capture all the things that cross your mind and instead rely on your memory to remind you of the things you need to remember, and you memory is probably the worst place to store all the things you need to remember.

In David Allan’s Getting Things Done book, David Allen calls it the UCT - the Ubiquitous Capture Tool. For David Allen it is a note-taking wallet - a wallet that contains a small note pad and pen where you can write down anything that captures your attention. For me, it is my iPhone. The key is that whatever tool you use it needs to be with you everywhere you go, and your smartphone or wallet are likely to be the things that go with you everywhere.

There are times you may feel uncomfortable pulling out your smartphone and typing in to it, as perhaps the person or people you are with may think you are checking Facebook or Twitter during a meeting for example. In these situations I go ‘old school’. I will use simple pen and paper to take notes and then later use a scanning app to capture the notes into my Evernote account. Any tasks or commitments I indicate using a simple drawn square in my notes so I can easily identify any tasks. I will input these tasks later into my system. However, I will add a task in my inbox to check notes made in the meeting.

And essentially that’s the point about the whole system, more often than not you are going to remember to do something when you cannot do anything about it. Or, you are going to make a commitment to do something in the future, but you are not entirely sure at that stage exactly what you are going to need to do. That is why capturing stuff into a central place is crucial. Later, when you have time, you can go through the list and make decisions about what you will need to do to move everything forward. Once you have captured it, you can forget about it until you have time to process everything you captured. Learning this has been the number one reason I have found myself very rarely being stressed.

Often, I have found myself capturing the same idea or task two or three times throughout the day. For some reason I forget that I have already captured it. But that really does not matter. I can cross off the things that are duplicated. But when this does happen it is a reminder that this is something I think is quite important.

So, when making a decision on your capture tool you need to choose wisely. Ask yourself what do you carry with you everywhere you go? It is no good using a notebook that you keep on your desk at work. That is not going to go with you everywhere. You need something that you have with you when you are at work as well when you are in your local pub enjoying a few drinks with your friends. Those great ideas have a bad habit of hitting you at the most inconvenient times and if you are not in a position to capture those ideas when they arise, you’re either going to forget them until it’s too late or there’s going to be this annoying thing on your mind you just can’t remember, but you know is important.

For those of you using Todoist, I highly recommend you watch this little tutorial video by the great Steve Dotto. In this video Steve goes through how you can set up your Gmail account to capture in Todoist.  For those of you using IOS devises, since Todoist updated for IOS 8 you now have the option of adding the Todoist widget in your share sheet so that you can capture pretty much anything that comes in to your phone.

So, remember, capture, capture, capture. It really does not matter if you think you will not foget. Far better to get in to the habit of capturing now. Because with this single habit, you are going a long way down the road towards a stress free, productive life.