GTD Collection Phase

The Collection phase is where you get everything in one place--out of your head and into a central mechanism (usually an inbox). This page aims to offer tips and ideas for effective use of the Collection Phase.

"Ubiquitous Capture"

The term "ubiquitous capture" is often used by GTD practitioners to describe the state of being prepared through the use of tools (paper, voice recordings, email, etc.) to capture everything that comes up and requires a record or an action.

Ubiquitous capture is a crucial component of the Collection phase. Having a "ubiquitous capture device" (like a note pad, index cards, a PDA, etc.) can preserve things like:

  • Ideas that pop into your head while you're on the go
  • Contact information received while in a meeting or conversation
  • Reference information encountered on the go that you'll need later (like product names and prices)

Here are some types of capture devices:

Tips for the Collection Phase

  • David Allen recommends writing one idea or other item that needs to be addressed on a single sheet of blank white paper and tossing it into "In". This serves to get past the problem of "clumping" things together and not being able to decide what action to take because you're considering too many items at once.
  • I've found several disadvantages to using ink in any form (analog or digital) for a few reasons.
    • Handwritten notes must often be rewritten/retyped on ore more times to place them in their ultimately most usable (or reusable) form.
    • Digital handwritten notes are generally harder to propagate or re-purpose in other tools. When I take notes in church on my PDA (a Palm), I sometimes use the Notepad application which uses digital "ink." Unlike some applications like Microsoft OneNote, the Palm's Notepad does not possess handwriting recognition capabilities. This means that notes taken in handwriting are "locked into" the picture realm. If they are to be propagated without transcription, they must be attached to email or embedded in documents and databases as a picture file.