My new favorite app for Capture is Drafts on iPhone.
It’s a delight to use. You can tell the developers pay attention to detail, they also provide lots of updates. AND it’s only a buck (I don’t want to hear and bitching about paying for apps; you should WANT to pay for apps).
Anyway, highly recommended to get thoughts out of your head and onto something else!
I’m passionate about being an active consumer of information (not being a consumption whore). I think if you are reading something it should provide some value: entertainment or ways to implement the information in your own life. If you aren’t reading for entertainment purposes, you should be trying to take the information and figure out how to apply the insights into your personal circumstances. This also goes for conversations we have with other people. There’s always talk of doing this or that. But nobody really takes any action.
In my experience we as a society are really bad at applying information to our own lives in an actionable way. Maybe we haven’t built up such muscles. I’m not really sure. But I’m here to help.
Ask The Right Questions
At the most basic level it’s important to read within the context of your own life and goals. Keep asking yourself, “how can this help me?” This is obvious but needs to be pointed out. If you are in a conversation and somebody brings up an idea, ask them what are the next steps you need to take to implement the idea.
Have The Right Tools
The second thing to do is keep a notebook or something to capture ideas and notes with as you read. Most of us grossly overestimate our ability to remember things. Don’t trust yourself to retain anything, keep everything outside of your head. If you have an idea, write it down (or email/text yourself, write it in a text app)!
How to Write Good Reminders
The next step is to write your ideas in an actionable way. This means using verbs! For example, say I’m reading “Rework“and come across some information I’d like to apply to my job or business. Write the note like this:
Brainstorm ways [Verb] to create by-products our company makes
Set up [Verb] meeting with [decision maker] about how to reduce meetings
Frequently the note will be about brainstorming something further. It’s okay if you are not sure how to “create by-products” or “reduce meetings,” the point is to start taking actions based on the ideas and information you’ve read.
Now that you have written down your new actions, the next and most important step is to make sure that they get into your organization system. Whether you are a GTD person and have next actions lists (then you probably don’t need to be wasting your time reading this), or just have one big list of “to-dos,” make sure you get this information you’ve captured into a system you review regularly and that influences your day-to-day actions and priorities.
I am an organizer, synthesizer, and aggregator. These things come naturally for me. Systems help me do these three things easier. I love to figure out new systems that make information easier to access and utilize. Systems are great because once you have a reliable one in place you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you repeat a task. In economic language, systems are efficient. They speed up a progress and give a clearly defined path to success.
I’m currently in the process of reading “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky. After I read his book I’ll give an update to this post showing what I’ve learned. But this post is about how I keep track of ideas. The follow-up will be how to make the ideas happen. Continue reading