DayOne as GTD Inbox

3 minute read

I’ll explain a scenario that allows you to use your journal as your GTD input system.

NOTE: Originally, I wrote this article in 2018, but I did not publish it. I’m happy to say that I still use the same approach, and it works as well as the first day.

My first entry on DayOne was Thursday, January the 19th, 2012. Since then, I have been using the app none stop, enjoying every new feature they have been adding. At the moment of writing, I have 2400 entries in my journals. I use the plural because I have several of them, but I’ll focus on one called inbox in this post.

As we all know from GTD, along your day, you have to collect information or ideas as they come, not letting them interfere with your current work or what you are doing. You have to collect them not to lose them and take care of them later on the processing face. That allows you to free your mind to work more focus so more effectively. In summary, you get things out of your head as soon as possible by putting them in a place where they will not be lost.

You might collect very different information like:

  • Documents: invoices, tickets, although I take pictures and get rid of them in most cases.
  • Images. Anything you can not take with you in the paper, but that you want to have, like a poster with interesting information, the aperture hours of a business that you find at the door of the establishment. Of all those things can take a picture and deal with it later.
  • Ideas or reasonings. Sometimes I can not type, so I record small audio notes to deal with it later. I love this approach because it allows me to invest 1 or 2 minutes in explaining the entire idea and not just a quick note.

In the past, I used several applications like ScanBot for scanning docs and the iPhone camera or Camera+ to take pictures of things. For audio recordings, I was using the iPhone Voice Memos. And Of course, Things App for other stuff. All that is OK, but the problem is that at the moment of processing, I had to look in many places to gather images or audios and handle them differently because they are different documents.

With all the new features in DayOne, now I can have it all in one single workflow. With DayOne, I can take pictures, record audio or write, and all will go to the inbox journal. I can even do it with my watch. I simply need to open my inbox journal and process everything at the moment of processing.

book cover

This solution has a nice side effect. I realize that some of the entries in the inbox have become an entry in my journal. Let me give you an example; some days ago, I was walking and saw an ad about an upcoming concert on a wall. I took a picture to review the details later. At home, I decided not to go to the show, but I made an entry in my journal talking about that musician and her music simply because the image was there, and I found the moment and the inspiration.

DayOne has become one of those tools that it is unavoidable to use. I did subscribe to it as soon as they moved to the subscription model, and I am thrilled to pay every year to help make the tool grow. In a previous post, I explained how I use it to manage my day at work.

Of course, I’m not saying that DayOne is the only tool that allows us to do this. I’m pretty sure that other tools will enable you to do that job as easy as this one. I’m just talking about this one because it works for me. And since I’m paying for a subscription, I’m happy to know that I can make the most of the application.

Please let me know about any tool you use to handle your TDD collect phase!