Get those thoughts out of your head! Here’s what’s out on my desk: 

A cluttered desk will sap your productivity every time! Have what you need out and ready for action but keep it all contained and organized.

desk ipad notepad

Your desk should be a place to give you focus not a place for you to lose it.


When you are sitting at your desk you better be prepared to capture those notes from that client that just called. Do you have a foolproof way of writing down that next action from that email you just received? How about that phone message, where does that go?

I’ve found I need to cover the following:

  • Take notes – I need a place to jot down notes from a phone call or when doing some “project thinking”. I may have to go through these notes later for next actions that will get entered into my productivity app which is Nozbe.
  • Focus list – I like have a focus list of projects that I’m working out right next to me and in my line of sight. It keeps me on track. Yes I will have to refer to my next actions in my productivity app Nozbe but this is a great general way to focus my day. I take 5 minutes to reflect and think about my day before I jump into my day and the product of that reflection is my focus list.
  • Next Actions – I also need a place to write down single next actions. I still really like having one place that I can list this stuff out on. This way I don’t lose track of anything.

Here’s my capture setup at my desk:

  • Dot.Grid.Mini_Main_copy_mediumTake notes = Dot Grid Mini – I always need a small notebook handy to write down notes from a phone call or random great ideas. I like the 6″x8″ size, it’s just the right size to keep out on a desk. It doesn’t overtake valuable desk space and it’s big enough to take a decent amount of notes with. I personally like the wire bound books because they lay completely flat.


  • Action.Runner..Green-Alt.1_mediumFocus List = Action Runner– I leave this notepad out next to my Dot Grid Mini. On it I write down my 3 primary projects I plan to focus on today.  After I do a review of my current projects list I write down the projects I plan to focus on today. This is a great visual of what’s important today. It gives me a way to prioritize my main projects to focus on today.



  • Action.Pad.Mini.Red-Main_mediumNext Actions = Action Pad Mini and iPad – I leave the Action Pad Mini and my iPad next to my phone. I capture phone messages or one item actions on the Action Mini Pad or I open up my iPad and enter them right into Nozbe. If I write on the Action Pad Mini then I later process it into Nozbe.



These four tools take care of everything I need to capture during the day. They take up only a minimal amount of space on my desk and yet give me a lot of freedom to know I can capture what comes my way.

Here are some other ideas:

  •  Moleskine Classic Notebook – Large – A moleskine is standard issue for most! With that said I’ve used plenty of them in fact I still carry the Evernote Business Edition Moleskine. They are reasonably durable and decent quality paper. I do find that with the Moleskine certain pens can cause bleed through. I also don’t like the fact that the bound books don’t lay completely flat.
  • Letter Sized Notepad – Any generic notepad will work to capture thoughts and notes from a  phone call.  One thing that I do like about a bound book and not a notepad is that you can go back and review your actual notes from a phone call or meeting since it’s kept in a nice bound package.
  • Post It Notes – Most offices have Post It Notes in the supply cabinet. You can use it to write your focus list down for that day.

Brendon Burchard has a one page productivity planner that really influenced my setup  – it’s worth downloading and trying it out.

Let’s talk more about this on Twitter.