There are 5 parts to the GTD process – Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Do. I’ve written about “Review” before and want to write about “Collect” in this post.

Definiton: According to the GTD System, Collect is off-loading what needs to get done from one’s head, capturing everything that is necessary to track, remember, or take action on.

Works: The way this works best is to capture one thought per page. You can then take that page (or scrap or voicemail or email or 3×5 card) and put it into an inbox to be processed. If you are collecting, make sure you are willing to trash, delete or recycle the item once it has been processed.

Doesnt work: This doesn’t work when you have a bound journal and use it to collect your thoughts. The pages turn into large lists and can become overwhelming. The journals themselves are collected and kept because you don’t trust that you have the information from them you need. It is also difficult with digital capture at times due to the delay it takes to get the thought into the system.

What’s it look like: In a post title “My GTD” in January I listed out the systems I use for collection. At the time it included:

  • Cheap 3×5 cards
  • Pocket notetaker
  • Levenger Circa Notebook
  • Pilot G2 Pen
  • Blackberry
  • Lotus Notes
  • Gmail
  • Google Reader

I have made some changes in the last 6 months. This is the cool aspect of GTD. You are not locked into a single tool for your system. You can move around depending on your style, needs and desires.

I’ve switched from a pocket notetaker with 3×5 cards to a small Moleskin notebook for my portable capture device that is always with me. I’m still very much pen and paper. It is the quickest way (for me) to get a thought captured quickly and inexpensively.