Ever met someone who seemed to have it all together? Life just seems “easier” for him; he always has great ideas, doesn’t forget things, and is very productive?
Many creative and efficient people have discovered the benefits of what I call “Load, Relax, Capture.” This is a life strategy for receiving, processing and building on the prolific information we interact with daily. By embracing this strategy, individuals are able to function effectively in what can frequently be an overwhelmingly complex environment. Here is how it works:
LOAD: This is probably what we talk about most in the organizing world. Every day we are bombarded with images, opinions, tasks, questions, and more. Loading means finding a way to ingest all of this information. Efficient loading requires that we triage what comes at us into categories:
- Dismiss (trash the email, disregard the comment, pitch the catalog, etc.)
- Attack (immediately process any item we can “deal with” in under 3 minutes)
- Stage (any information we need to respond to/act on requiring scheduling to complete)
- Hold (information we find interesting, don’t necessarily need to respond to, but want to keep around for future reference)
RELAX: Here is the step we often undervalue. If a problem comes into our lives, we often rush to solve it. Sometimes, this is necessary and effective, but often we benefit by holding off and giving ourselves time to reflect and problem solve. In our fast-paced world, we’ve lost the art of “chewing on it” and instead rush to put the fire out. Interestingly, we often get our best ideas when we are not trying to think up solutions. Ever remembered a name out of the blue that you couldn’t retrieve in the moment? Relaxing gives our brains time to process new stimuli, connect seemingly disparate facts and innovate. Exercising, sitting on the beach, taking a nap, listening to music… all of these create space in our minds into which ideas can flow.
CAPTURE: To benefit from the ideas percolating out of our relax time, we need to capture them as they pop up into our brains. This could be as simple as writing in a tiny notebook kept in a pocket or as high tech as keying into an electronic list on a smartphone. The key here is to record any ideas/solutions/etc. exactly when we think of them. We don’t need to act on them at this time, but rather record them so that they can be accessed later.
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All three aspects of this system need to be in place to experience the maximum benefit. Most of us are naturally stronger in one area than another, so pause and consider what changes you can make that will make you more productive.
When do you get your best ideas? How do you capture them?