Consistent Capture System

Work Smarter 4: Organize with Consistent Capture System (CCS)

In our series dedicated to help you diagnose your own productivity challenges, we covered the ‘Bucket Method’, a simple yet effective tool to help you prioritize your goals for the next quarter. Today we show you how to Adopt a consistent capture system (CCS). Let’s see how it works.

This course will give you the skills to help you manage your time, focus and energy.

What’s at the heart of organization skills?

Researchers have found that the most productive teams were also some of the most organized. They tracked down and eliminated unnecessary aspects of their workflow. They delighted in finding new ways to increase their speed and efficiency.

First up, a quick pop quiz to start us off.

  • Write down the initials of 3 people (non-family members) you trust most.
  • Now, in your head, go over their phone numbers and addresses.

How much did you remember?

If you’re like most people, you don’t know many numbers and addresses by heart. And with good reason. You don’t want to waste valuable brain real estate with information that could be stored elsewhere.

But how do you organize information you need to keep handy? Take a look at our first organization tool.

Start to ‘close the loop’

When it comes to work, most people’s minds are full of ‘open loops’. These are swirling reminders and snippets of information.

David Allen speaking about CCS
David Allen speaking about CCS

The solution to all these open loops is to create a ‘consistent capture system’ or CCS. This is a concept inspired by author David Allen. A CCS is a reliable, go-to place to record information instead of storing it in memory. The most important CCS types capture:

  • To-do items
  • Appointments
  • Deadlines
  • Notes (including key points, ideas, and instructions)

What’s the best capture tool?

Should you use digital? Notebook? Sticky notes?

David Allen did a study to see what capture tool worked best and the results showed that the tool participants used made no real difference. But what did matter a lot was consistency of use.

People who sometimes capture to-do items on their phones, sometimes on their calendars, and sometimes on a piece of paper have open loops because they can’t trust their CCS.

Your mission is to close the loop by committing to using a single CCS and embed it in your workday.

To keep yourself organized and strengthen good organization habits, choose a CCS of your own. Write down and commit to a single tool to capture your to-do items.

Pick the CCS that works best for your brain and stick to it.


Recording information in a single, reliable place may seem like a small thing. But it can have a real impact.

The value of creating a great CCS is that you can set your mind free. You’ll be free to:

  • solve problems
  • detect patterns
  • develop relationships
  • generate new ideas.

Wrapping Up

Next: Organize with a Closed loop culture


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