GTD: Collection Tools

In my ongoing quest to live by "Getting Things Done" (GTD), I am always looking for ways to maximize each principle.  One recommendation that is very important is to identify what my collection tools are (and use them).

Collection tools (or capture devices) allow me to capture important thoughts as they happen.  For example, I have a 30-45 minute commute to work each way.  Instead of listening to the radio, I typically allow for "free thinking".  What If I happen to have an idea for how to solve a technical problem while I am driving?  What if I suddenly remembered I needed to email someone?  What if I had a great anniversary gift idea?  What if I had all of these ideas, but because I could not capture them, they vanished away?  A collection tool allows me to make sure my thoughts get persisted somehow.  With that said, here are my two favorite collection tools: allows me to speed dial to a voice activated system that allows me to verbally "jott" my thoughts.  The Jott service then converts my voice message to text and sends me an email.  This is fantastic for when I am commuting back and forth to work.  I typically jott 5-10 times each commute.  This has been an incredible way to not let important thoughts escape from me.


imageWallet with Pen & Paper

This is by far my favorite collection tool.  I can not count how many times this has come to my aid.  Many times at work someone will mention something that I want to follow up with.  I might be at Starbucks and suddenly have an idea while I am standing in line.  I can discreetly take out my wallet with pen and paper and write down whatever is needed.  In the past, I tried to use my PDA for this, but it was never as quick and simple as the wallet alternative.  I also have observed that it appears to be much more socially acceptable to take pen & paper out to take a note when in conversation than to use a PDA.


These are my primary collection tools.  Does anyone else have a great system for capturing ideas?


  • For implementing GTD you might try out this web-based application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version is available too.

    As with the last update, now Gtdagenda has full Someday/Maybe functionality, you can easily move your tasks and projects between "Active", "Someday/Maybe" and "Archive". This will clear your mind, and will boost your productivity.

    Hope you like it.

  • OMG! No I'm not a 12yr-old teen girl, it's just that opening was required because about an hour ago I was rounding up my book collection because I decided I wanted to have it at the office instead of home. I stumbled upon some books I bought at TechEd 2007 because they were bargains and a stash of books I bought because of being inspired to get on the ball by being at TechEd. One of the books in particular I brought back upstairs with me because I had forgotten about it. I only got through the first chapter but only because I got sidetracked.

    So, I see a Tweet from Jeffery Palermo just now with a link to his daily Tags. I go take a look and wander to your post about "The Chicken Dance" because I see he's tagged it agile boot and I'm planning to attend week after next. I see mention in that post about GTD and the acronym just isn't ringing for me (it's 2AM now). I click on that link and see a picture of the Getting Things Done book. I glance down at the desk in front of me at the book I JUST brought up from my garage after having forgotten about it for over a year, Getting Things Done...

    Wow! I'm reading this book cover to cover tomorrow cause if that's NOT a sign, please tell me what is.

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