Catching Incoming Items: “Drive-bys” and “Shower Thoughts”

by Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company LLC

Recently I was teaching a productivity and organizing workshop to a group of executives and consultants. I listed some of the ways in which our tasks come to us: “… email, voice mail, text messages, snail mail, the ideas that come to us in the shower, and those requests made by colleagues as we pass in the corridor.

One of the participants, a director at a pharmaceutical company, offered, “Drive-bys. Those requests as you pass in the hall? I call those ‘drive-bys’.” Perfect description, I thought.

Email, voice mail, text and snail mail rarely get lost. We know where they are, lurking in their inboxes (though actually dealing with them can be a real challenge for many.) But the drive-bys and the shower thoughts that come our way? They can present an additional problem: how to capture them?

In the coming days I’ll be turning my attention to the products and processes that may help us deal with drive-bys and shower thoughts, the requests and ideas that come without built-in digital or paper format.

What are your favorite ways to catch errant thoughts? Share them here.


3 comments so far

  1. Marilyn Bohn on

    I like that term drive by. I am not one to keep notes on paper other than my planner. I have used my planner for over 15 years. If I jot notes on other pieces of paper they either get lost or shuffled under other paper. I write everything in my planner.
    When I worked in an office and someone caught me in the hall I would have them follow me to my office so I could write it down. Now with email I think I would put the burden back on them and have them email me the request or wait until I could lay my hands on my planner.

  2. New Leaf News on

    I advocate an organizing system that processes all paper through the in-box. This prevents notes from being lost. From the in-box the information moves to the calendar, task list, or appropriate action file. Since paper is certainly coming into our lives anyway, and we must have a system to deal with it, we can make use of that same system to capture other kinds of information, including drive-bys.

    Marilyn, do you ever worry about losing your planner? How do you back up all that data?

  3. Jeri Dansky on

    My favorite is the Levenger Pocket Briefcase.

    The notes taken there (on index cards) go to my in-box for processing when I get home.

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