Systems & Tips

My Capture Device Recommendations

In this series, we’ve looked at the benefits of using a capture device, some strategies on using a capture device, and even why I don’t like to use my iPhone as a capture device.

Now that we’ve got a lot of the underlying philosophies down, I wanted to wrap up by talking about what I’ve found works for me as a capture device.

I use a pocket notepad and pen, specifically a Moleskine Volant Extra Small Notebook and a Zebra Telescopic Pen. I’ve tried quite a bit of options, and these have been my personal preferences. Your mileage may vary – but here’s why I’d recommend something similar to this as a capture device:


Both fit very well in my pocket. I really don’t like having bulky notepads in my pocket, which is why the extra small moleskines do the trick for me. 3” by 5” notebooks feel too big to me personally.

Speed of Use

This is where the Zebra pen shines. There’s no cap to take off – you simply pull on the top part of the pen, it telescopes out, and you’re ready to write.

It’s incredibly easy to open and close, so you can pull it even if you’re holding other things in your hands – it’s that easy. To close it, I normally just press the bottom of the pen against my leg or chest.

With the Zebra pen, I can reach for my notepad in my left pocket and my pen in my right pocket simultaneously. I can telescope the pen out and begin writing in a fraction of a second. Then when I’m done, I can put everything back even more quickly.

One popular pen I hear mentioned a lot is the Fisher Space Bullet Pen. It’s slightly smaller than the Zebra pen and is a good option. But it’s not as speedy to take off the cap and use.

Easy Tearing Out of Pages

I think tearing out pages in your notepad is important. This allows you to rip out notes and put them in your inbox for processing like anything else, and you can even just stick the pages themselves into your teaser file or some other folder if you’re using a paper-based system. Tearing out notes allows you to quickly see what has been processed and what hasn’t. (As I mentioned, that’s really important for capture devices you have lying around that you use infrequently.)

But the main advantage is that when you take your notepad out to write, you don’t have to spend extra time flipping through used pages to find a blank one. You’re ready to write instantly right at the front of the notepad.

A lot of notebooks weren’t designed to have their pages torn out. After a little use, they become loose and messy – maybe even falling apart. The Volant extra mall notebooks have perforations for easy tearing.

Wear and Tear

Small Notepads are easy to come by. You can get all sorts of generic kinds for really cheap. But those didn’t hold up over time for me and eventually became wads of paper in my pocket. The Volant notebooks hold up very well. I happen to keep it in the same pocket with my wallet, so that probably helps to protect it a little too.


I got a two-pack of Zebra pens at my local office store for $5.00. The Fisher Space Bullet Pen will run you anywhere from $12 – $20. Not a tremendous difference in price, but it hurts a lot less to lose a Zebra pen.

Unfortunately, I’d say the Volant notebooks are a little more on the expensive side at around $3.00 each. I don’t mind spending a little extra to get the quality construction of a Volant. But if you capture a lot of notes on-the-go, then perhaps you wouldn’t care as much about the durability of each notepad and could get a cheaper option.

If you have a capture device that works for you, let me know in the comments below!

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