As a supplement to the work we are doing this week on Capturing, I thought that I’d share my personal approach to Capturing, and why I consider myself a Green Belt. I will also describe some of the challenges that I have when I capture, and my plans for changing my own practices in this area.
I use a paper pad, and my email in-box as my primary capture points.
Here you can see a picture of my pad, which is inserted at all times into a slot in the wallet that carries my PDA (a Palm Tungsten T). This pad is actually a small notebook that costs about US$1, that I cut down to the right size with a pair of scissors. This is the best solution that I have discovered, as the right size pads have been impossible to find, but these notebooks are easy to source. Below is a picture of a notebook before it is cut down to size.
This combination of PDA and pad is what I carry around with me just about all the time, unless it’s impractical to do so.
I tried some other alternatives, none of which worked for me… At one point I tried using my PDA, but it was too clumsy a device for fast data entry. The stylus was just too slow to use for capturing purposes. Plus, the battery has a an annoying way of running down when it gets too much use.
Built into my PDA is a digital voice recorder that I never use, because I find it annoying to have to listen to my own voice for much longer than I care to…
My Outlook in-box serves as my standard capture point for all email. I use it to collect 2 kinds of email, and I also have a Gmail account that I use as a backup for when something goes wrong with my primary email. I also have Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL accounts that I use for testing purposes, in addition to an email account I use when I am teaching that is assigned by the university.
At the moment, my in-box has 2 items in it — not quite empty, but almost.
My cell phone acts as my backup capture point when I don’t have my pad/PDA combination with me. I have found that I can enter a reminder to myself for a time when I’ll have my pad/PDA, or my computer handy. It has a nice audible alarm that interrupts me to let me know to do something with an item that I have captured beforehand.
At night, however, or very early in the morning, I am sometimes hit with a bright idea that I know I will lose if I don’t capture it immediately. This post is just such an example, having its genesis one night this past week.
Here is a picture of the small book light, pad and pen that I use for capturing at my bedside without waking my wife. I use this capture point only once or twice a week, at most.
Of course, I also have voice mail on my cell phone and business lines. I have no voice mail on my homephone, as at some point in the past I decided that checking too many voice mail systems was killing my piece of mind. My business voice mail actually sends an email to my in-box telling me that I have a message, which means that I never have to check it myself.
As for memory, I do my best to not to have to use it, but there are times when I have had to use it in the past week.
In the shower, I had a great idea, but nothing to write it on. Some people have waterproof pads, and while I happen to have one (a remnant of scuba diving days), placing it in the bath would wreck havoc with my wife’s peace of mind, and therefore my own…I am sure. Instead, I do something else like moving my watch to my other hand, or a ring to another finger.
On a bike ride, while I have my cell phone with me, I haven’t tried to enter a reminder while flying down a hill at 30 mph. I probably shouldn’t try, either. This is one case where I am forced to use memory. Luckily for me, I don’t get too many time demands popping up on rides from Kingston to Ocho Rios.
Now and again, I’ll get lazy and use a stray Post-It note, or memory, or some other pseudo capture point. I usually get away with it because I do it quite infrequently.
Now and then, I forget to capture, and don’t write something down. The results are disastrous.
The other day, my plumber came by and I gave him a verbal list of items that needed to be fixed. This is a dangerous method, and prone to failure under the best of circumstances, especially when he wrote nothing down. Predictably, when he arrived a few days later he didn’t bring all the tools with him, as he forgot that there were so many things that he needed to do. It required another trip that he could make only a couple of weeks later.
This is one reason that I am not a Black Belt in this discipline. I am not yet reliable to work with people who are White Belts or Novices. I am not fully skilled at realizing when I need to be the one Capturing, if a task is to be completed successfully.