Capturing Ideas

I am looking for a workflow which allows me to capture ideas. These are typically not related to any project. I am not sure if “ideas” need to have a context or project - hence my confusion. If the ideas are totally unrelated, how will you capture them and categorize them?

This is what single action lists are for, I believe. A bucket of mostly unrelated things.


So create a project and list single action items in there? What about contexts?

Apply your contexts to the items themselves not to the project. Project contexts just add a default context to the action items.

For me, I have a context for planning / decisions for things that really will require me to sit down and figure out what steps are needed to make my “idea” come to fruition.

Hope that helps.

Ideas that aren’t related to anything actionable might be better held in a different app (Evernote or OmniOutliner or similar).

What I do is if I need to capture something quickly, no matter what it is, I put it in OmniFocus by means of the quick entry shortcut. (I leave project and context blank.) Then, when I’m clearing the inbox, if an item is not an action I think “Can I turn this into something that is actionable?”. If I can’t, then it doesn’t belong in OmniFocus and I move it to Evernote.

OTOH, each person’s workflow is their own, so if keeping them in OF works for you, go ahead!


I have two inboxes for capturing things. One in Evernote and on in Omnifocus. I am a scholar so I come up with little research ideas all the time and I have a notebook in Evernote for that. It works great because its easier for me to add little additional thoughts on an idea as I think of more things in Evernote, add links, etc.

But ideas for DOING things usually go in Omnifocus into a Maybe single action list. Then they are all paused so I don’t see them regularly. They get reviewed weekly where I decide if I want to take some future action. These are all non-academic ideas that just get incubated and forgotten unless I want to review them.

FInally, I can always move things I capture in one place to the other. E.g. I clip articles to Evernote and if when I review the article in my EN inbox, I realize it leads to a project or something actionable, then I make an Omnifocus item.

I like the last two comments by Amy and Tangled1 - The operative word for me is “actionable”. I use Evernote as well so its easy for me to see a workflow where ideas end up in Evernote and only move to Omnifocus when its actually something actionable. So the process of initially capturing that idea occurs in Evernote, not Omnifocus. Works for me.

ps: I guess capturing initial ideas in evernote may not be as fast as firing up omnifocus and typing something in the inbox.

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For me, I still use Omnifocus for random thoughts. I created a context called thoughts. GTD says get it out of your brain, so I get it into Omnifocus in the context of thoughts, then when I go through that context I put it in OneNote (or Evernote) in a subject that the thought was related to. The key for me is to keep doing the same thing and keep using the same program which, for me, is Omnifocus.

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