Running along the trails of Toro Park, I remember a ton. As I run, my body works, my mind begins to work as well. Thoughts are processed. Dreams are contemplated. And I remember stuff. Stuff I was supposed to remember to do. Conversations I was supposed to have. Errands I was supposed to run. There, on the trail, without any ability to do a darn thing about them, I remember stuff.
Have you found yourself saying stuff like this?
“Oh, man! I remember now! Why couldn’t I have remembered that this morning?”
"What should I be doing right now?"
"I feel like I'm forgetting something."
“Yes, that’s right! I can’t believe I forgot!”
My brain, like yours, remembers a ton. So often, though, it remembers at the wrong time. Or the wrong place.
This is why I a major part of my personal organization style is having a trusted method to capture everything. If I’m going to remember things at the right time, a first step is to capture stuff all the time. This isn’t the only step, of course. At some point I must process all I’ve captured, but I must first capture it.
I call these spaces for capture my “inboxes.” Besides email, I have 3 main inboxes.
One major space I write things down is in my daily journal. Traditional paper and pencil is usually with me. During my morning quiet time I will sometimes write things I need to remember later. Talk to this person. Email that person. Study this. Run that errand. I write it down in my journal.
This isn’t my to do list. That comes later. This is just me making sure I write it down so I can process it later. I actually have a symbol I use so my eyes can easily scan my journal later.
Right now my journal is a piece of card-stock paper that is always in my Bible. I have minuscule handwriting, so I fit about two weeks of journal entries onto the front and back of that paper. I have often had times, however, where a traditional Moleskine was my journal. Whatever iteration at the time, my journal serves as a significant inbox.
My digital inbox is Evernote. I will take many notes on the fly with my phone or tablet. I will also email myself other notes directly into my Evernote inbox. Additionally, many work collaborations will take place on Evernote.
This inbox is great because I can capture many different forms of thought there. Audio, links, lists…they all can easily be recorded there. Emails can be forwarded there. Random thoughts can be captured there.
Finally, I do have a physical inbox. This has diminished in significance as I’ve attempted to digitize everything. Most physical documents can be quickly scanned into my Evernote inbox. Still, it is a good idea to have one place physical items go when you need to process them later. If you don’t have one physical inbox then your entire apartment, house, backpack, or office will be your inbox. Not good.
This is where paper mail goes, but also little tasky odds and ends. A book someone lends me. A flyer I need to remember later. A doll I need to superglue. Stuff like that.
The mere presence of these inboxes is not enough. In fact, they will drive you a little batty if you don't process all this information at the right time. That's where my weekly review comes in, which I will write on next.
But to get moving on having a few trusted inboxes is important. We live in a time where it would be easy to have thirty. We can only handle a few, I think. I try to work hard to make sure I don't have to look too far beyond my email, Evernote, journal, and a physical inbox.