Getting started – the “Initial Capture”

Now that you have set up your trusted system and have your capture devices, the first thing you must do to get started with GTD is to capture all your “stuff.”  Stuff is literally anything and everything that you need to do something about.  It may not be something you are going to do soon.  You may not even be sure if it something you actually will commit to doing now but you might want to do it at a future time. If so, you must capture it.  Capturing all your stuff is extremely important because once you do you will feel a great sense of relief once you get it out of your head and into your trusted system.

If you are just getting started with GTD, you will have to do a onetime initial capture of all your stuff.  After this initial capture you will only need to capture the new stuff that has come into your life since the initial capture.  Please resist the temptation to get right to it and skip this initial capture.

For your initial capture I recommend taking your smartphone and literally walk around your home and office to capture everything.  Say you start in your garage and you see something that needs to be dealt with like organize garden tools or inventory your tool chest or wash the car.  You need to capture all of these things. Don’t worry about making judgments about the stuff or what list it needs to go on.  Your goal is to just capture it at this point.  You will process it into the appropriate category and decide exactly what to do about the stuff later.

Walk around your home from room to room, front yard to back yard and capture everything that has your attention.  Then go to your office and capture everything there.  Go to each physical place you spend time and capture everything.  There are three easy ways to do this with Evernote and your smartphone.

  1. Select Snapshot and take a picture of the stuff
  2. Select Voice and record a voice note about the stuff
  3. Select the Untitled Note field and type in the description of the stuff

For an even simpler way to capture into Evernote using an iPhone, try FastEver and FastEver Snap.  These apps are designed to capture text and photos into Evernote with the minimal amount of clicks.  I highly recommend spending the $1.99 for each of these applications.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to resist the urge to make judgments about your stuff during this initial capture.  All you are trying to do is to capture everything into your trusted system.  You will process your stuff later.  This initial capture will not take as long as you think it will and the payoff is huge so get started.  You will be amazed the sense of relief you will experience just by capturing everything.

The “initial capture” is a critical part of a successful GTD practice

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About Michael Keithley
Digital Transformation CIO and Public Speaker. Previously, CIO at Creative Artists Agency

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