For my entire life, or at least as long as I can remember, I have used a “black book.” Over the years they have changed off and on in terms of binding, whether or not they have lines, and which brand – but, generally, they have all been a form of what is known as a “sketch book.”
In a day when people use smart phones, think pads, and every other techy-gadget out there, why would I still recommend using a “black book?” Here are the reasons that I use one, and I will include some pictures to give you examples. I am sure some these things I am sharing as what I LOVE about a sketch book are possible with some form of technology . . . but don’t even bother telling me. I have ordered my supply of “black books” for the remainder of my life . . .
Here are my favorite aspects of the black book:
Visual Calendar: I love seeing 10-12 weeks at ONE GLANCE. For me, this is very helpful. On my phone, it’s one month at a time, in my day timers, same thing. I love to hand scratch out a 3 month window and see what is coming . . . I often will then work on an action list from that calendar. It seems like when I see it at a glance, there are always things that need to be done in preparation.
Box “To Do” List: Some people like “lists” and maybe some don’t. For me, I love a list that I can refer to, see, and specifically, check-off the box showing that it is DONE.
Notes: Whether I am listening to a talk or preparing to give a talk, they both start with notes. I bring my book with me to church, to every meeting, to every appointment, and as I sit in my airplane seat I stow everything but a pen and my black book.
Documentation: I have hired a lot of staff over the last 10 years. I don’t know the exact number, but off hand it would be well over 100. Every person that I hire in my line of work has a different “package,” start date, salary agreement, amount of funding that has to be acquired prior to starting. On more than one occasion I have said, “I took notes, let’s refer back to our meeting.”
Scotch Tape: There are certain things for me, for example, a Regional Financial Summary, I will cut out and tape into the book. I also tape in random “lists,” directions for a future meeting, an email with info I want for another meeting. If I am going to a meeting for a golf tournament for an example, I will tape in our player list, as well as a mock budget. It’s info I know I will want.
Reflection Time: If I am praying, if I am writing down thoughts, reflections, or things I sense God might be nudging me on . . . it’s in the Black Book. I have a prayer list of who I want to pray for, and I have my own “Life Plan” in the book for weekly review.
The “Chuck”: Many, many decades ago I had a meeting with a guy named Chuck. (Chuck Reinhold, at the time was the VP of the Eastern Division of Young Life.) Chuck asked me a question, and as I answered he began to take notes on what I said. It stuck with me – I want to be a note taker, and specifically, a note taker on what people say to me. It is quite affirming when someone writes down what you say . . . so I like to do that!
There are many more ways I use my black book. But here are the final things I love about my black book:
- I am never looking for paper
- I am never bored or don’t have something to do while waiting – anywhere. (Dr.’s, airport, appointment, restaurant, oil change)
- In the end, it serves as a diary of sorts for my life
- I can always work on something – personal or work
- The blank canvas for vision is always before me
- I look teachable and organized when I show up to a meeting
- It can go anywhere, and never has to be “off” or in “airplane mode”
Do you want one? The first 5 people that contact me and want one, I would be happy to send one to you! Everyone else, here is the specific book I use and where you can get one for yourself on Amazon.