My Brand New Cutting-Edge Organizational Tool.. Just $1.99!

I’m always trying new ways to stay organized and productive.

As my list of businesses (and the size of my family) continue to grow, staying organized is a must.

So last week, I decided to take it “old skool”! I went to Staples and picked up a composition notebook.

That’s right. For a buck ninety-nine, I purchased a 200 page notebook.

For the past year or so, I’ve been using iGoogle to keep track of my daily to-do’s. But lately, it’s become unruly. So I went back to basics.

The Notebook Returns

Oh notebook, how I missed you so.

When I first started my online business back in 1998, I used a simple notebook to stay organized.

All of my contacts, to-do lists and follow-ups were stored in there.

Since it’s not possible to keep thousands of my contacts in a notebook anymore (thank you gmail!), I am now using the notebook for my daily ‘to-dos’

It’s So Simple

Before I leave my office for the day, I spend about 10-15 minutes going over my important things to get done for the next day.

It could be tasks like “finish sales video” “create webinar presentation” “call 10 potential affiliates” “write an article”, etc.

Then, when I arrive the next morning, I hit the ground running.

And notice how I didn’t write things like “check email”. That’s done in chunks only AFTER my important tasks are completed.

When a task is done, I just cross it off. And let me tell you, crossing off that completed task feels REALLY good.

In a world that’s plugged in 24/7, there’s something that feels so natural about simply unplugging and writing in a notebook.

Oh, the joys of simplicity.

And for just $1.99, you can’t go wrong.
How do YOU organize your business? Comment below…


  1. Ryan, very good point. Some times technolgy holds us back and creates more trouble than progress. Many people ask my why I still use a note book and my response is “because my pen and note pad don’t need a battery”.

  2. I am SOOO with you on this one Ryan. My tool of choice is an old fashioned paper diary – A4 page per day.
    Like you I write my top to-do items in the night before – I focus on the income producers, and what will move me closer to the goal.

    I love having that non-computer based time
    , and crossing it off, and it’s super easy to carry things forward, and check back when i need to.

  3. I’ve been using a notebook for sometime …
    For me, one of the important aspects is that’s it’s more real.
    Yes, typing is real, fingers touching keyboard … but pen in hand, writing, marking, promising, for me has more power.
    As well as reinforcing the target, crossing out the completed jobs seems to have more power and connection.
    … and then there’s the smell of the paper, ink …

  4. I remember you used to keep one in your desk back in the day! I carry a Moleskine nearly everywhere. Fits right in my back pocket.

  5. Edwin,

    I agree. People obsess over technology.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love technology – but sometimes it’s so nice to simply unplug.


  6. Vic – you are right. There’s something that feels REAL about actually writing it down.


  7. Tanya – I’m glad you are with me on this one.

    And writing down those important tasks first (and getting them done!) is how you become super-productive.

    Keep rockin’


  8. I’ve been doing this for years and it works like a CHARM!

    For any non-believers out there… try this.

    Monday: Don’t use any goals at all. At the end of the day, write down what you accomplished.

    Tuesday: Write down your goals in the MORNING. At the end of the day, write down what you accomplished.

    Wednesday: Write down your goals the NIGHT BEFORE. At the end of the day, write down what you accomplished.

    I can absolutely guarantee you… on Wednesday you’ll accomplish about 2x what you did on Tuesday, and 4x what you did on Monday.

    Amazing stuff 🙂


  9. Mike – I’m glad post it notes work for you.

    Personally, I’ve tried them before and it never worked well for me. It felt a bit too cluttered.

    I like the notebook where everything is in one place and portable.


  10. Brian!!!

    My old friend, it’s been a looooong time.

    I’m back to the old notebook days and I remember you always being organized too.


  11. Jeremy – interesting idea.

    Why do you think that’s been working so well for you?


  12. Ryan,
    You over paid for your composition book, we buy them at the start of the school year for .50 at Walmart & Staples, we generally buy about 20 every year. My wife is a scientist and this is this is how she was trained to keep up with all her notes and projects. You keep it simple!!!

  13. Ryan,

    I am with you with regard to the composition pad. My wife looks for the “back to school” deals from places like office depot. They offer these huge .10 deals and we will rack up buying 20, 30 at a time. They last about a year (HaHa).

    But the real value in your message (at least for me) is when you mentioned going over the most important things to accomplish on your list for the next day.

    Successful people do this on a regular basis. We spend time on what counts the day before. This way we hit the ground running and won’t waste time.

    Confess Success and Make It Happen

  14. This is an idea that works. The next time you go into a NAPA store check out what the counter people use to keep track of their daily orders. Each one is written down and then after the order is filled it is crossed off the list.

    I have to keep my to do list hidden during the day because if my super wife finds it laying around and knows I’ve finished anything up SHE crosses it off the list and then laughs…because she knows that is something I like to do.

    Thirty years later and it still goes on.


  15. Ryan,

    I love it and with you 100%. Something about pen to paper that stimulates the creativity too.

    I have an other inexpensive, old school “tool” I can recommend for productivity . . . the common kitchen timer! I set it for thirty minutes or one hour before I get on the internet or social media, so I don’t get lost and it also works to get me writing on a big project. Set it for 30 minutes and tell myself, “I only need to write for 30 minutes.” Does the trick to end writer’s block every time.

    Thanks for always having great ideas and valuable content. I never delete your emails when they hit my inbox.

    All the best,

    🙂 Dana

  16. I’ve used an 8″X 10″ spiral notebook for years. 35 cents at Staples. On the cover it says, “Notes, Quotes, and Other Stuff”. Much more portable than any computer system. I admit that I use EVERNOTE software for organizing my upcoming DVD and ebook but otherwise it’s all handwritten chicken scratching.

  17. Ryan, as I read this post I couldn’t help but smirk? My business partner is always giving me a hard time as I tend to use paper and pen daily. He, on the other hand, says I need to get out of the stone age and use all the wonderful programs, apps and the like that are on every powered devise we own. Me using good old fashion pen and paper drives him nuts.

    I admit I use the techie tools more now as he harps, yet I continue to ink my thoughts, plans, to-do’s throughout the day.

    Truth be told, I like the old school method best!

    Thanks for the chuckles Ryan. It made my day.


  18. I’ve been using a notebook for that for years. Never leave home without a small pocket sized one, and have a slightly larger one that gets used for daily journaling and to-do lists for the next day.

  19. Wow! I thought that I was the only one left that still use pen and paper.

    There is something magic in the excercise of writing with pencil that make my creative juices flow more efficiently.

    Write a to do list and then scratch item by item until the job is done is quite refreshing, there is nothing more satisfactory than the movement of the hand scratching a finished task.

    I tried to use an iPad but even though is awesome… somehow it doesn’t feel the same.

  20. I reverted to a bit more fancy physical notebook myself a while back, but since I purchased by little Archos 7 internet Android Tablet, I’ve been experimenting with other organizers, and a week or so ago I found, which is an online service similar to Evernote, but it’s awesome, and very intuitive and simple to use, and it automatically syncs with whatever device you have it hooked up to.

    Check it out.

  21. Ryan,
    Of course I was expecting you to recommend some really cool new app or something and got a chuckle when I read your tip. Oddly enough, I was looking for a legal pad to take notes for a course I was attending and couldn’t find one in my house..I had to wonder where they suddenly all went! I am a new fan of mindmaps and the little legal note pad on my iphone but obviously still need the good ole fashioned kind for when I just don’t want to get on those electronic devices. Thanks for making me feel better about it!

  22. I have used the note ook for a while and like the project style note book found at Staples. You can also try the replacement sheets for Day Runner and look for the one for Real Estate appointments. There is room for ph one calls and notes. By the way looking forward to the info for the next continuity summit!


    Simple, fun, and the only thing I’ve been able to keep up with for more than a month. Feels almost like paper, and syncs in the cloud to your iPhone.

    That, and the Pomodoro system (25 minute work spurts, 5 minute break). There’s a slick menu bar app I use on my Mac too.

    Ive tried the paper thing- multiple times. Works at first while it’s all nice and clean- but once I get too many tasks, it just feels too cluttered and disorganized. Plus my typing looks a LOT better than my handwriting.

    One thing I will take from this is deciding tomorrows tasks today. (Teuxdeux was practically made for that btw.)

  24. Back to basics! I love it Ryan! I use notebooks to keep track of project planning and my to-do lists, and I recommend using paper and pencil – or pen – to all of my clients. You can avoid having it get out of hand by using one notebook just for your to-do list. Use one page per day and at the end of the day copy your unfinished tasks to the next day’s page. Simple and effective!

  25. @Dana. I’ve been using my iphone as a countdown timer. I also use some of the free online countdown clocks to track my time.

    Next on my list.. the egg timer!


  26. @Jason. I’ve tried evernote but found it a little confusing. Granted, I didn’t give it enough time and probably gave up too quickly.

    For most of my online files, I use dropbox.


  27. I find it easiest to use a pen and paper as well. I always turn back to it. Evernote is nice but more for idea capture.


  28. Notebook is probably simple and effective tool, but I personally have huge problem. I totally forgot how to write by hand. Now my chicken scratches are impossible to read even by myself!!!!

  29. Hi Ryan, some days ago I bought a beautiful notebook, and I thought to jot down the best things to do in my internet marketing planning.
    But I feel a bit “old style” in the web 2.0 era.

    But now I feel more motivated, and I’m ready to start with my black and red agenda, bought for 2,50 Euros!

    Thanks a lot, this is what I call a motivating article!
    See you soon,
    Alessandro Zamboni

  30. Ryan,
    Great info my problem is I fill up and then later lose the notebooks. So I’m currently in transition of moving everything over to plan plus online from Franklin Covey to help me organize everything.

  31. Great post 🙂 I have tried almost every configuration of todo list and I keep coming back to pen and paper..each night write down to do for next day and start challenge is forgetting to get everything down and I get a call from customer and move into putting out fire mode..on another topic..I watched your testimonial video…what were the top 5 things on Kristi Franks list?..7 figure business..awesome.Art

  32. So this is more “pad” than “ipad” ? 🙂

    I’m with you on the small list of important tasks to complete (reminds me of The Four Hour Work Week).

    Nice one. 🙂


  33. Great suggestion! the good ole’ notebook

    I tend to use pieces of paper and when it wears out just rewrite…probably should get a notebook and just rip pages out as I use them or CROSS lots out.

    thanks for the tip and great meeting you at Yanik UG 7

    what hosting company do you like to use for your websites?

    have a great day


  34. I’ve used legal pads for years — the type with the very thick backing and cover that folder over, to keep track of tasks, messages and the like. Can’t tell you the number of times my memory has failed me, but my notepad hasn’t.

    I’ve used everything from Stickies (Mac) to fancy task manager programs on the desktop and online, and every one of them fails eventually. But the legal pad (notebook clone) doesn’t.

    Right with you on this one!


  35. I’ve used every conceivable organizing devise known to man and I always go back to my Franklin planner or a good ole spiral notebook. Reminds me of a quote from Einstein I read the other day..sorta relevant…

    “Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

    Do you have an affiliate program for this new tool?…I’m positive I could move a ton of these…LOL…!!!


  36. Ryan, so true my man…

    I tried to use outlook once, and ‘list of six’ but each time I went back to a A4 notepad.

    I just need to find a way to organize my notepads now,I have 4 on the go simultaneously 🙂

    Oh, that and ‘post-it notes everywhere…

    Keep it coming…


  37. Note books have saved the day many times, computer crashes, hard drive failures, wife’s birthday, bad memory days and most of all stating a camp fire In an emergency situation.

    Yea, a pretty good reason to keep a “Hard Copy” at hand.

  38. I continuously use paper–notes, to-dos, projects, etc. There is simply no replacement for it! Thanks for bringing the rest of us back…to the future!

  39. LOL! That’s hilarious! I must admit I’ve been using a notebook for ages, it sits in front of my on my desk and I use it all day long – though I have one page for the must do tasks each day. I’ve tried several task and project management deals, but the notebook is just quicker and easier. Thanks for validating 😀

  40. It’s so simple – going back to basics!
    My notebook is just a simple diary – has worked very well for me for many years.All the same size and I can go back years for certain details and information – good memory refresher 🙂

  41. Awesome! I used to use the same thing when I started. Those notebooks are the best because they are cheap and the pages don’t fall out like with the spiral ones.

  42. I leave a message on my Google Voice account listing my to do’s. It then gets transcribed poorly by them so I have the email automatically forwarded from there to my VA in Indonesia. He edits it and posts it to my Facebook wall where I print it out and put it in my pocket.I wish there was a simpler way.

  43. Using a paper notebook kind of puts your notes in a different category than items stored in a digital file. It’s not fancy but is more portable and compact than any old computer.

  44. Love it. The simplicity is overwhelming. I switched to one of those coil-bound cute little note books that are hard covered and about 4×6 inches last year and it has save me tons of time and lost information.

    I shared this on my facebook. Thanks, Ryan.

  45. I first started out using small yellow stickies as being left all over the place, bathroom mirror, computer screen, car dashboard, kitchen refrigerator etc, for keeping my notes and reminder to do lists on. Then I started noticing I would forget where I placed my sticky note that contained a specific note for a chore ‘to do’. Left me spending longer time than it should, wasteful time, now spent looking for, trying to remember where my sticky note reminder was last left or seen by me n order that I remember to do what whatever it is was that I now know I forgot about, by my spending my time looking for the yellow sticky notes whereabouts, duhh. INSANITY, 🙂 I too now use a large size spiral bound notebook, nothing else like it… I love it.

  46. I had just been contemplating the return to the notebook for my own To Do list. I tried the online ones, but they didn’t work when I was off line. Plus, I’m a pen and paper girl at heart. Thanks for the confirmation that I was on the right track. If it works for you, I know it will for me!

  47. I’m definitely a pen and paper girl when it comes to keeping my to-do lists organized, and I feel guilty about how non-techy it is, but it works. I also use blank monthly calendars and week at a glance daily columns to remind myself of tasks that need to be done.

    Composition notebooks have a lot of cool colors and prints these days too. Great reminder, I may have to stop into the office supply store this week and pick up a few.

  48. Dear Ryan:
    This is you at your best; stimulating, inspirational, and rock-solid practical. Thank you for sharing this great idea.

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