Braintoss – capture everything

As you may know by reading post from this blog, I am a bit nerdy. When I was in my early 20ies I was on the verge of hitting the famous wall. I had a ridiculous stressful situation and I continuously dropped the ball. To make things worse there where also a lot of things out of my control that I needed to keep track of but did not really have the tools to do so. Too much stuff to do and no way to be able to focus and get things completed. At this point in my life I found a productivity methodology called Getting Things Done (offical page here). This became the tool that helped me to get my life sorted out and it stopped me from going crazy. Every since this time I have been an avid GTD:er.

Capture everything outside of your head

One of the important steps in this methodology is to capture. You should never keep things in your head, get them out and into you trusted system. Personally I capture stuff into a couple of different places. My central is my home desk where I have a physical inbox. Here I can drop what ever I run into. I also have a physical inbox at my work desk and a mobile inbox in a plastic folder in my bag. When I leave work I empty the physical inbox into my plastic mobile inbox. The mobile inbox is always with me, perfect since I travel quite a bit. When ever I get home I empty my mobile inbox into my physical inbox on my desk at home. This way I know I always get it to empty once per 24hrs.

My GTD-system is digital. I use, and have been using for many years now, an application called Nozbe. It is simple but yet powerful. In Nozbe I also have a digital inbox. When I process my physical inbox they become tasks in Nozbe that I then can process or do at the right locations and at the right points in time. I also have the option to email things into my digital inbox which is a really useful feature. My work life is spending a lot of time in my email inbox thus I could never work with a task manager that doesn’t have this feature. Braintoss is an application that helps you capture things that you then can email into your trusted system.

Braintoss on the iPhone
Braintoss on the iPhone

Braintoss a capture tool

I learned about the tool in a video on Youtube where David Allen, the inventor of the GTD-system, talked about his setup and how he worked. It was a quiet endorsement but I still got interested and wanted to try it out. It is an iPhone/iOS application that is pretty cheap, around $2 at the time of writing.

The application has a very simple and clean user interface that is quite different from the normal iOS application when it comes to look and feel. The main screen has three button icons, one to record sound, one to take a picture and one to write a note. You can also configure the application by clicking a gear icon. It is super straightforward to setup; you need to enter your email and choose what language you are using and that is it. The language setting is then used to help the voice transcription service to work better. I was surprised to find that Swedish was a supported language.

When you choose to use the sound recording you can speak into the phone and your voice will be captured and transcribed to text before sending the message to your email. This works good enough. Often the text you get is nothing like what you actually said but the recording is also attached so you can always listen to what you said if it didn’t transcribe your voice correctly. If you choose the image icon you can snap a picture or choose one from your library and this will be sent over to your email. The text is also pretty straightforward. Both of these could be done as easily using the standard mail application in the phone.

As an added bonus, and the real killer feature, is the included iWatch application. I put it on the watch face of my watch. Now I could capture “stuff” super quickly by clicking the Braintoss icon on my watch and speak into the watch. This is really useful and a killer functionality that I would be willing to pay a lot more for!


The downside with this application is that it doesn’t work. At least it doesn’t work for me. Only one in five recordings actually gets through and end up in my mail. The watch application records your message and it indicates to you that it was successfully sent but it does never arrive to the email. If I check the history or log of the application there is no entry for the task either. And to only use the iOS application is not effective enough since I need to open the phone, start the application and start the recording. It’s quicker to simply write the “stuff” in my carry along notebook.

The whole reason to capture is to get stuff out of your head. But if you cannot trust the capturing device you will not get a clear head because you will still keep a reference in there to check that the recording got through. I am no longer using the application since it is not reliable and I cannot recommend anyone else to use it either until the reliability is rock solid. I am back to pen and paper and is carrying a small notebook with me where every I go. When I get back to my desk at home I tear it out and toss it into my physical inbox. Keep it simple and reliable!