March 23, 2007
I’ve been a GTD dork for about two years, but only recently found Merlin Mann’s GTD-dork-centric video pod-casts, which led me back to 43folders.com (hadn’t visited in a while) and thence to lifehacker.com. I can’t think which is sadder: the fact I only found lifehacker the other day, that fact I’ve been reading it and 43folders every day since, or the fact I just used thence in a sentence. It’s fookin’ 2007. Whither my trenchancy?
The fundamental idea in GTD is that you get everything out of your head and into a system, so you don’t have to remember anything, which you’re very bad at. One of the pillars of a functioning GTD system is a process called ubiquitous capture—also known as, “Writing Shit Down”. Now, things will almost certainly occur to you when you are not in a position to do anything about them. You’ll be at your computer, debugging a gnarly php function or brining yet another Web 2.0 style button into the world, when the perfect chat-up line pops into your head. What do you think you’re looking at, sugar tits? You write it down. Later, you transfer it to your awesomely comprehensive Great_Chat-Up_Lines!.rtf file. Even later, being a GTD cult member in high standing, you review this chat-up file as part of your weekly review. Awesome.
But here’s a problem: what do you do when inspiration strikes, say, when you’re driving? Well, maybe you have some kind of voice-recorder handy and neeeeep you nailed that mutha. All right, all right. But say you’re on the potty and your laptop is in another room and, although you have 150 feet of shimmering quilted double-ply at your disposal, darn it, your Space Pen is in the other room too.
Pop quiz, hot shot! Whatchagonnado?
Well, here’s what I do. I learned this technique from an improve-your-memory book two hundred and fifty years ago and I’ve used it ever since. It’s super simple. It never fails. It allows you to remember up to ten items at a time, and recall them easily at any time—even, if you feel like impressing yourself, in reverse.
The trick is to link whatever it is you have to remember to one of the peg words above using the most ridiculous or obscene image that comes to mind. Let me stress that again: ridiculous or obscene. Must be one or the other. Felicitations if you can embrace both.
So you have to deposit checks at the bank. That’s item number one. Bun. The chick at the bank is so pleased to see you, she rips open her blouse to reveal two double-d cupcakes, still in their corrugated wrappers. Furthermore, the cherries on top shoot off and blind you.
You have to do some photo research for a project. You don’t want to do it. So boring. Item number two. Shoe. You imagine SuperNanny spanking your naughty little arse with a giant red stiletto. Someone takes a picture and uploads it to iStockPhoto. It becomes the most downloaded Internet picture of all time.
You have to put an order in for the final Harry Potter book or your special someone will cream you. No problem. Item number three. You imagine one of those giant trees from Lord of the Rings attacking your favorite bookstore. On its black and rotten bough hang the dead bodies of Harry, Hermione and Ron.
At least, that’s what works for me. You come up with your own disgusting images.
This is ubiquitous capture on the run, or on the potty, or on the potty with the runs. When you get back to your Hipster PDA, you simply write it all down. Don’t worry about re-using the same numbers over and over. Don’t even worry about keeping multiple lists in your head. Your mind has an endless supply of unique and sick images to help you remember your stuff.