Earlier this week there was a story about an armored car that somehow dropped a bag of money out of the back door (and I feel like and idiot when I leave my wallet at home).  Thousands of dollars littered the highway, and dozens of helpful people stopped to retrieve it.  Permanently.

Get in your mind what that looks like: hundreds and hundreds of green pieces of paper floating in the air, landing in the median, blowing to the shoulder of the road.  Then picture yourself in the middle of the scene: money falling all around you, but you picked that particular day to wear you pocketless pants. (What? You don’t have pocketless pants?  Shocking.)

That’s a good analogy for our lives: we tend to have a tremendous amount of information coming in, but few systems to capture it.

Consider this: over the last two days I have read well over 500 pages of books, sat through nine hours of meetings and conversations, typed up 11 single-spaced pages of notes, listened to at least five podcasts and sermons on my commute, scanned 200+ blog posts and hundreds more Twitter feeds, and attempted to catch a few minutes of the TV news.  (And you thought preachers only worked on Sunday!)

Most of that downpour of information was good.  Some of it was intriguing, insightful, and helpful.  A fraction of it was absolutely necessary.  But without the proper post-downpour capturing, it all goes to waste.

When I read a book, I’ll underline and circle and jot notes and argue with the author, but then put it on my shelf before I transfer the info to a usable next step.  When I go to a conference, I walk away with tons of ideas, sparks of creativity, and renewed passion…but then the notes get filed away before I actually do something with them.

However, there’s something about these last two days that has convinced me that I must do better.  I need to do better.  I have to create space to process.  Before I open the next book, before I book the next conference, before I confer with the next pastor, and before I pastor the next church member, I have to make room to capture and process what I’ve been given.  To do otherwise is to squander the gift of the original information.  It’s bad stewardship at best, and it’s a lost investment of time, money, and resources at worst.  I have to create space.  You have to create space.  We have to create space.

I’m interested in your system (and I’ll bet other readers will be, too).  What processes do you practice in order to capture, manage, and reuse information? What has been helpful to you? Comment below, or if you’re shy, send me a direct e-mail.

And I promise…I’ll create some space to process your response.