Get Things Done—Step 1: Capture

In our last issue, we introduced the five-step process in David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” 


This step involves capturing your tasks and “to-dos” in some way so that you can get them out of your head and come back to them later. Capturing is critical because it frees your mind to concentrate on what you’re doing at the moment while keeping other priorities on your radar. 

To successfully capture things that need your attention, you must create a system that prevents items from falling through the cracks. A system that allows you to centralize information will help you stay organized, and it will help avoid an office or truck cap littered with sticky notes and scratch pads!

A capture system might consist of physical and digital tools. A few examples include:

  • A physical in-box or tray
  • Notebooks
  • Digital and mobile apps (e.g., Trello, Google Drive, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents)
  • Email, text, and voice recordings

Try to keep your items in as few places as possible. The more “buckets” you have, the more difficult it will be to keep track of them. Also, Allen suggests emptying your buckets regularly so that you act on the tasks you captured in your system. 

A good capturing system might mean the difference between:

  • Winning and losing a job
  • Having supplies on time for a project or needing to reschedule 
  • Staying on time and budget or going over
  • Keeping your promise to a customer or failing to meet their expectations
  • Getting referrals from satisfied customers or learning that you’re getting bad-mouthed on social media

It may take some practice to perfect it, but it will be well worth the effort.

Tune in to our next issue to learn about Step 2: Clarify.

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