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The No-Hassle Quick Capture Tool for Tasks and Ideas

The No-Hassle Quick Capture Tool for Tasks and Ideas


    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.

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    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

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    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?

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    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

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    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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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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