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.
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 latest capture setup at my desk:
Take notes = Arc Notebook – This is the basis for my system and contains it all in one neat package. I fill it with the Circa Dot Grid Refills. Levenger stopped selling these for a while and sadly have no plans to bring back the Action Method refills. I still have a a small stock pile of them but I know I’m going to be sticking up on the Dot Grid refills.
Focus List = Action Runner– I use my Circa hole punch holes and punch holes along the side of this sheet so it can be inserted into my notebook. I leave in my daily notes sections of my notebook inserted to the current days notes. 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.
Next Actions = Action Pad Mini and iPad – I have punched copy of an Action Pad Mini sheet inserted at the front of my notebook. I can simply flip the pages to capture phone messages or single action items. If I write on the Action Pad Mini then I later process it into Nozbe.
In addition to items above here’s a few other things you may want to make this system work for you:
- Arc Tab Dividers I have my notebook divided into 3 sections. The first is my daily notes section. I use this for jotting down notes throughout the day. The second is dedicated to meetings. I prefer the Letter Sized Action Book for taking copious amounts of notes but in a pinch this is fine. Section 3 is reserved as a journal. I still like taking handwriting notes when listening to a podcast or flushing out ideas for the blog.
- Arc Ruler I mark my current page in my daily notes section wit this ruler. It’s a one flip sloution to finding space to write.
- Circa 1-2-3 Portable Punch You are going to have to punch holes in those sheet and this is a nice compact solution.
If it wasn’t for Levenger deciding to make the Circa Dot Grid Refills i wouldn’t have gone back to my Arc notebook. But I’m glad they did. It’s really nice using the Circa system it’s very flexible and allows me to customize my system and make it more compact.
Here’s my previous capture setup at my desk: (This system still works but just not as compact)
- Take 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.
- Focus 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.
- Next 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. 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.