Some best practices on the COLLECT phase of the GTD process:
WHAT TO COLLECT:
Every commitment unfinished is an “open loop”; and when it is tracked in your psyche, instead of your system, it will require energy and attention to track and maintain. Once the open loops are captured, you can manage completion by using an external system that takes much less energy than keeping it in your head. Every commitment unfinished requires management in a trusted system until it is done or discontinued.
COLLECTION SUCCESS FACTORS:
Capture it all (Get it out of your head)
Every open loop must be in your collection system and out of your head. Keep collection tools nearby so that no matter where you are, you can capture anything that has your attention. The result of this practice is to have everything out of your head. The less you track in your mind, the clearer you will be, and the more important and functional the collection tools will become, which allows for your mind to be optimally clear. This will make your collection tools more important.
As few collection tools as possible (Minimal number of locations)
Have as many as you need, but as few as you can get by with. You need collection tools wherever you are, since things that you want to capture may show up anywhere. However, if you have too many collection areas you won’t be motivated to empty them regularly.
Process them to empty regularly
Emptying the collection tools to process and organize is part of the daily processing routine. Emptying the collection tools does not mean that you have to finish what is in voicemail, email, or an in-tray; it just means that you have to take it out of the container, decide what it is, and decide what has to be done with it. If it is still unfinished, organize it into your system. You don’t put it back into “in”!
By the way, the word “empty” doesn’t mean complete the work– just define it and organize it.