How to collect everything

By Benjamin Aggrey 5 years agoNo Comments
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Though it may seem daunting to literally capture and process every single piece of paper, agreement or thought that could later be acted upon … it is actually achievable. Being 100% collected is a nirvana that many productivity-geeks seek.

And not to rub it in but, yes, I’ve been there. Or at least, as close as 99% collected. ….it never lasts long 🙂

So the question I’m often asked is: “How can you possibly get to 100% collected, especially with all that you do?”.

The answer, for me, is actually quite simple. “I regularly scan all my capture tools and inboxes, and eventually, over time, I’ve collected all the pieces. It’s simply a matter of time over matter.”

So, it’s about diligently putting time in, but I’ve also learnt a couple of other tricks along the way.

Inbox Checklist: 

How do I know I’ve checked everywhere? Well, I keep a list of everywhere.

I have a checklist I call my “Capture Tools and Inboxes” checklist where I list all my capture tools as well as all the inboxes all the input ends up in. I break this checklist up into sections:

  • Mind sweep (both Physical and Mental)
  • Paper
  • Electronic
  • Forums and Blogs
  • Social Media
  • Other (includes bookmarks inbox in Google Chrome)

So when it gets to processing time, I know that I have a complete list of all my inboxes and so I can always double-check to make sure I have checked everywhere.Frequency:

The frequency with which you need to check your inboxes will depend on how often your world throws things at you.

If you have new input from colleagues, friends, email, social media, etc., every 1-2 hours, you simply can’t wait until the weekly review to process your inboxes.

Your lists will be so out of date, you won’t trust them and you’ll abandon it way before you get to your weekly review.

So my advise? Spend time to figure out how often you need to be processing your inboxes. The better you keep up with your input rate, the more collected, processed, and probably organised you will be.


                               An hour glass

Backlog :

And if you’ve got a huge amount of input to process because you’re just getting started, make sure to label it as backlog. This could be a disorganised garage, filing cabinet range, closet, and so forth.

If this is the case, make sure you’ve defined the boundaries of that backlog item and then create a project to eventually get it processed.

At one point, I put my backlog on the inboxes checklist. Then if I had time left over during my planned processing time, I would tackle a little bit of this backlog. Overtime, the backlog got whittled down to nothing.


But the key here is: If you keep a checklist of all your inboxes, and make enough time to go through those inboxes and processes the content, you’ll eventually get it all processed. And if you spend more time than you have inbox content, you’ll definitely keep on top of all the input.

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