Quick capture for note-taking

Quick capture is the process of quickly jotting down notes as you generate them throughout the day. A good system allows you to return to your tasks at hand.

I have spent quite a bit of time trying to find the right note-taking app–one that could enhance my workflow.

My goal is to write a bit about my workflow, as I will generally rely on a ton of notes as I learn and write boldly. Quick capture is the most important part of my note-taking process. Therefore, any note-taking app that I seek to adopt needs to allow quick capture. This is essential.

In general, I believe that there are some important considerations to keep in mind when trying to determine how I will:

  • take notes
  • process and organize notes
  • synthesize and learn from my notes

Quick capture and note-taking

Quick capture is the process of quickly jotting down notes as you generate (e.g., ideas, meetings) them throughout the day. It allows you to collect the idea and quickly go back to the task at hand. A place to quickly jot down notes as I create them throughout the day allows me to focus on more important things.

On my laptop, I’ve used Unclutter and Noteway. Currently, I am testing out Mem. These apps generally live on the menu bar and do not interrupt my workflow. They can easily be called or initiated with a keyboard short cut which allows me to move seamlessly between my notes and my current tasks. On my phone, I use Apple notes, though, at the moment, I am testing Drafts. I like that I can easily send texts to Apple notes with an action or script. Unclutter and Noteway, Mem, and Drafts are relatively low friction tools for capturing information.

Since quick capture is a big part of my note-taking process, every Friday (at most) and at the end of the month (at least), I spend time processing notes I’ve captured throughout the week or month. This process entails sorting through, organizing, and deleting notes. I find that once a week is ideal, depending on what I am working on and how soon I have to convert my quick captures to a first draft. However, I have a recurring task that reminds me to process these notes once a month.

At each point of the note-taking process, my goal is to reduce friction between capturing, processing (deleting, archiving, filing), and using my notes as necessary. I, at times, also use pen and paper–but these notes rarely make it into more permanent places.

This is my first post on this topic, and I plan to continue to process my ideas out loud. Stay tuned for more posts on note-taking, writing, and general productivity.


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