Capturing Ideas Revisited — Intro

July 8, 2010 | 2 Comments

I kicked off this blog over two years ago with a series called Capture Everything. It was influenced by David Allen’s GTD system merged with my desire to have a reliable digital workflow to not lose a single task or idea. The system I described was one I’d already had in place, and it must have worked, because I’m still using it, other than a tweak here or there.

There were three core principles in place then that have sustained that workflow:

  1. It has to be handy, reliable, and streamlined. If something comes to mind, I only want to have to capture it once. For example, I don’t want to write things down in a moleskine that I later have to transfer to a digital tasklist. I’m willing to spend a little time setting up a system up front if it means I can trust it across multiple locations and/or devices.
  2. Tasks and ideas are different. Tasks are actionable and will be completed and whisked away forever. Ideas are concepts or reference notes that I want to tuck away out of site, but have access to for easy retrieval. And if it turns out I don’t need them, that’s okay, because they are out of site, costing me at most a few bytes of storage somewhere.
  3. One app is better than two. With tasks, OmniFocus has been reliable and the only app I needed to manage tasks. (I’m giddy about the imminent release of OmniFocus for iPad.) When it comes to ideas, there is an endlessly growing list of “everything bucket” apps. All of them have strengths and weaknesses, but I’ve tried to use on app to capture all of that — Yojimbo. (I should mention that I scan and store PDFs with Yep, but that is less about creative work, and more about storing bills, statements, etc.) But, this has changed…

I’m now capturing ideas using both Yojimbo and text files via a SimpleNote/Notional Velocity waltz. The iPad spurred this change, but after trying it out, I’ve decided it’s working well enough to stick with it. Of course, I’ve written a number of posts about Yojimbo in the past, and one or two about SimpleNote, but in the next couple weeks, I will do a post on each, describing how it has found a unique place in my idea capture system…and in my heart.

(Based on comments in previous posts, I’m guessing someone will feel compelled to mention Evernote. I know about it. I think the forthcoming posts will describe this setup works better than Evernote for my workflow.)

  • John

    I’m excited to hear about your system. I personally have holes in my workflow – I currently use Simplenote/Notational Velocity, Evernote, and various Toodledo syncing apps across my iPad and Android phone.

  • Cool stuff, John. Thanks for your great work. Like you, I’m waiting as patiently as possible for Omnifocus on iPad – at which point, I’ll be much better about GTD’ing again 🙂