capture everything: out and about

February 11, 2008 | 1 Comment

This is part 4 of 5 in a series on capturing everything. Other entries:

As I’ve disclosed my processes to capture every worthwhile thought, discerning readers (or Luddite sympathizers) might have noticed that it seems as if I sit at a computer all the time. That’s not entirely true. Those who know me can confirm that I typically spend more time slouching than truly sitting.

While my computer is the trusted receptacle where I capture thoughts, the reality is that said thoughts often don’t come to me when the computer is convenient. In fact, some of the best thoughts come at the least convenient moments. (I think that perhaps it would be best if I didn’t expand on that any further.)

Here are some of the ways I try to capture while on the go:

Ye olde moleskine. Sometimes, even I find it is easier to actually write something down. I have a couple different moleskine formats that I try to keep handy, depending on what context I’m in. When I want to travel as light as possible, I prefer to carry a cahier. However, when I know I might have a chance for some extended note taking or reflection when a computer won’t be ideal, I make sure I have access to a full notebook. My biggest hangup with the moleskine is getting those thoughts tucked away in the computer. I have a time set on my calendar weekly to remind me to transfer any tasks or ideas from the moleskines into their proper digital buckets.

Ye new iPhone. I have a few very simple routines to quickly capture both tasks and ideas on my iPhone. The setup I am using, however, could work for any cellphone that can quickly create and send an email. I have set up two unique and private POP-based email addresses, one for tasks and one for ideas. Each has a simple name in my address book so that it is quick to find and send an email to. Anything sent to these addresses is automatically picked up by Mail.app and transferred in to the appropriate bucket.

Here’s what task capture rule in Mail.app looks like:


The MailAction.applescript was written by Curt Clifton and can be found on this website. With this rule, any email that comes to the ToDo POP account is automatically passed along to my OmniFocus inbox to be processed. The rule for Yojimbo looks identical, except that is is for my Yojimbo POP account, and runs a script that I found here.

The technical specifics of some of these workflows may or may not be helpful depending on what tools you are using. Even if they aren’t, one thing you and I have in common is this: thoughts worth capture happen anytime and anyplace. What kind of workflow are you developing to make sure that you don’t lose those grand plans for a manifesto to change the world…or a reminder to clean the litter box?