As promised, this is a continuation of our latest Ask Paloma post where we talked to Mimi about what to do when you have too many to-do lists. We left off with the promise of going deeper on catch locations. What are catch locations? Most people store important information (including email addresses, meeting information, appointments, ideas, lists, etc) in places like apps on their phone, notebooks, calendar apps, Gmail, sticky notes, planners, and even napkins. Each of these are catch locations because it's where key info is "caught".
Why does thinking about catch locations matter? Because a major source of stress can come from having too many of them or being too inconsistent about which you use. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all the different kinds of tasks, information, and apps in your life, this blog post might be an important first step. We'll walk you through a Catch Location Calibration.
Step 1: Inventory
We're going to first do a quick inventory of all the types of information you wrangle in your life. For this step, you'll want to print this worksheet. Once printed, take 10-20 minutes of focus time to list out, column by column, all the kinds of information that matter most for you to keep track of. It's ok if it's a messy list at this step, we promise we'll organize it later.
Examples of things to list in the columns (see the image for a real example by column :)
- Doctor appointments
- Phone calls to make
- Inspiring quotes
- Research notes
- Grocery lists
- Client email addresses
- Work to-dos
- Home to-dos
- Upcoming networking events
If you want help at this step, we invite you to grab one of 10 spots at our upcoming Analog Vs. Digital workshop. We'll be covering this, the following steps, and much more -- all with step-by-step support.
Step 2: Assign Catch Locations
Now think about what catch locations you might use (or already use) for each of the columns. Here are a few examples of catch locations for each column:
- Time Information: Digital calendars, wall calendars, or paper planners.
- To-dos: The reminder app on your phone, or a to-do notepad, or stickies.
- Contacts: most people rely on their email provider's built-in software like Gmail Contacts
- Notes and Ideas: A paper notebook, sticky notes, desk blotters or software like Evernote.
IMPORTANT: You can only list 1 or 2 catch locations per column. If you list more, you'll only be overwhelming your brain later. Trust us. One is ideal, two is ok. Three is cognitive trouble. See the image for Paloma's example of her catch locations.
Step 3: Test It
This step you do for the next two weeks. You'll want to, as much as possible, consistently "catch" your daily notes and information in their assigned catch locations. This may require you to get creative. For example, next time someone gives Paloma their business card (ie their contact info), she can't just stick it in her back pocket and forget about it ("back pocket" is not a catch location she wrote down). If she truly wants to hold on to that info, she will pause, get her phone out, and photograph the business card so she can email it to herself (Gmail is one of her catch locations). The goal is to be as consistent as possible, but if any weird situations come up, just make a note in the worksheet (in the Observations row). It's okay if a few things slip through the cracks, but if you see something important (like client meeting notes) that is hard to be consistent about, you'll want to consider a better, easier catch location for that column that will work better for you.
An example of this: Paloma thought she'd use Gmail Contacts for client contact info, but her personal assistant didn't have access to her Gmail account, so this was a major glitch. After the two week test period, Paloma decided to start storing her client contact info in a google excel sheet which she could grant her assistant access to. All other contacts however would still use Gmail Contacts, because that worked fine.
If you get stuck and want more step-by-step support -- you know what to do: Join us for our ANALOG VS DIGITAL: CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS workshop so Paloma can help with those tough ones.