I am forgetful.

My mother often told me I’d lose my head if it weren’t attached to my shoulders. As a result, I have come up with a variety of ways to remember things. But no matter what, I write it down first.

If I don’t write it down, I won’t remember it. There is no way. This is not negotiable. If it’s not written down, it’s gone forever. I’ve lost more interesting ideas while driving because of this.

But the key quick capture tool for me is…

Post-It Notes

Why Post-It notes? They come in all sizes, and they’re cheap. You can have as many (or as few) as you want. They come in fun colors. What’s not to love about that?

Post-Its and Notebooks

I keep a Field Notes notebook in my back pocket at all times. I have a set of five so I will always have one with me. Before I leave the house, I’ll toss one into my pocket if I don’t have one there already.

In the front of each notebook, I have a small stack of Post-Its which becomes my portable workspace. I usually grab about a half dozen and stick them there for safe keeping.

Why do you need Post-Its in a notebook?

Notebooks are to keep. Post-Its are to share. In the course of my job, I often need to leave notes for people and having Post-Its handy is vital.

I use them as a “scratch pad” where I can write down little things I want to see as soon as I open the notebook. I don’t want them hidden in some distant back page. Or if it’s something I don’t deem important enough to put in the notebook, it goes on a Post-It. It’s my own arbitrary rule — use it as you see fit.

Hang them on things

At work I have a little line of Post-Its across the bottom of my monitor. However, I stick them anywhere I might need them, such as:

  • The Steering Wheel: Whenever I need to remember something the moment I get into my car, I leave a note on the steering wheel. It can’t be missed.
  • The Front Door Knob: Is it vital I remember a package to mail or my lunch? If so, I leave a note on the door knob so I can’t walk out of it without seeing the note.
  • My Lanyard/Work Badge: Where I work, I have an ID badge that I must have on me at all times. I will often hang a Post-It to the back of my badge. Sometimes it’s the easiest place to stick it where I’ll remember it immediately when I get back to my desk. Bright colors are especially helpful for this.

I even keep a larger Post-It pad on my desk with lines on it. This way I always have a notepad ready for any thought, phone message, or to-do item that pops into my head.

My system of Post-Its and notebooks is all about reducing friction. I could keep all the notes in my phone or other digital system. However, the risk for distraction is far too high. My phone lets me hold the Internet in the palm of my hand, which is a death sentence for any idea I’m trying to hold in my head long enough to write down.

Paper is a perfect quick capture tool. And as for pens, I never leave the house without one. One lives in my wallet and I always keep another in my front pocket.

(Photo credit: Conceptual Photo of Mouse and Trap via Shutterstock)

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