Quick, write this down


I don’t know if David Allen originated the idea of ubiquitous capture, or merely popularized it (and I’m too lazy to look it up), but it’s something I do and recommend.

In a nutshell, it means being able to capture ideas and thoughts and things to do, wherever we are and whatever else we might be doing—so we don’t forget them.

Because we will forget them if we don’t.

I know, some say that if it’s a good idea, we’ll think of it again. They also say most of our fleeting thoughts aren’t worth spit, so don’t worry about capturing everything. But I’m not so sure.

Besides, the more we practice the art of capturing ideas, the more ideas our brain will produce, so even if most of our ideas aren’t useful, we’ll get more that are.

I don’t know if there’s a scientific basis for this, but it sounds good to me, so that’s what I’m going with.

So, I have apps on my phone and computer which allow me to jot down or dictate the idea and save it to my notes program or task program, for later processing and action. I’m sure you do, too.

I also keep a pad of paper and pen nearby my desk and side chair, because it’s often quicker to capture an idea the old-fashioned way.

But here’s the thing. The ideas I capture with a pen often feel different from the ones I capture digitally.

I can’t explain it. There’s something about how it feels to scratch words on paper and the movement of my hand across the page that feels more organic. It’s as though I’m more closely connected to those thoughts; they are the product of a deeper part of my brain.

And no, writing with a stylus on glass isn’t the same. At least for me.

Studies tell us that taking notes on paper fosters better understanding, and those notes are remembered longer, too. So there must be something to it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my apps. I love dictation. I’m a digital guy most of the time. But when I want to get something down quickly, and especially when I don’t quite know what I think or what I want to say, I often reach for a pen to figure that out.

So, boys and girls, don’t throw out your legal pads just yet. But okay, you can get them in other colors.