A lot of people ask me from time to time what some of my favorite tools for writing are. (Cough. cough.) Okay, so I have never actually been asked that question. But, hypothetically, if someone did ask me that question, this would be my answer in no particular order. So, whether you are a college student or businessman, these are my favorite tools to use on a daily basis.
If you woke up this morning thinking, “Hmm . . . I could really use a durable, minimalistic, all-metal pen in my life,” then look no further. The Mark One is, in my opinion, the greatest pen that has ever been made. David Allan writes, “…one of the best tricks for enhancing your personal productivity is having organizing tools that you love to use.” The reality is that tools will not make you productive because, as Matt Perman says, “The foundation of effectiveness is not first techniques or tools, but character.” However, there is nothing wrong with having tools that you love to use. I use my Mark One every day and think it is the best pen that you could own. One notable feature of the Mark One is that it takes any Parker-style refill. Here is a super long list of what that includes. My favorite pen fill is the Monteverde Parker Style Bold Gel Ballpoint Pen Refills in Navy Blue. Yep, that might be the nerdiest thing I have published in my life but these pen refills are amazing. You’ll thank me later. Long story short, get a Mark One.
A few years ago, I read a book titled, “Do More Better.” In my mind, it is one of the most concise and helpful books you can read on productivity — take my word, I’ve read most of them. In the book, Tim Challies talks about choosing your top three. These are the top three tasks you need to accomplish each day. One of the simplest ways I have found to record my “top three” is with these dateless planners from Barron Fig. Each notebook contains 15 weekly spreads with just the right balance of freedom and guidance. The notebooks also include a dot-grid section for jotting down notes. Basically, they are the greatest thing ever. Most days, I enter the date and top three tasks I hope to accomplish for the day. If I miss a day, no worries, there are no dates so you can just start from scratch the next day. These notebooks have become a staple in my daily workflow. If you want to give the dateless planner a try, they have a $10 off referral deal going on at the moment, you should totally check it out.
One of my favorite authors, Cal Newport, recently send the following in an email about notebooks.
“Thoughts, concerns, ideas, aspirations: these flow constantly through our consciousness. Ink on paper puts a stake in the ground that you can cling to amidst this turmoil, enabling you to build some scaffolding on which to organize these musings, while the persistent nature of the medium allows you to witness an evolution of this structure as you fill more pages over time.
This hard work of self-reflection is slow. It generates no “likes” and it doesn’t instantaneously banish boredom. No one else will read your notes and applaud your virtue or wit, and your future self will likely cringe at what you record now.
But without these efforts you’re adrift: pushed by whims, manipulated by attention economy contraptions, taking one step backwards for each step forward in your attempts to build a deep life.” (Cal Newport)
I completely agree. While I love typing and thankful for the convenience of saving ideas on my phone, one of the most beneficial times in my weekly routine involves a notebook and a pen. Whether I am brain-dumping or confessing sin, budgeting money or dreaming about the books I would like to write, there is something about writing in a notebook that is fundamentally different than typing on a computer. I have often told people, I think with a pen in my hand (a Mark One to be exact).
One of my favorite notebooks to write in is the Moleskine Classic Notebook. I use the Soft Cover (5″ x 8.25″) with plain blank pages. I have used many different notebooks since college and this is still one of my favorites. A notable runner up is the Vanguard Softcover Notebook from Barron Fig. If you are looking for a great notebook on which to dump your brain, let me recommend that you get a Moleskin Notebook.
At the end of the day, tools will never make you a better person or increase your productivity. But, it is a lot of fun to use tools that you love. If you disagree with my “Top 3,” or think that something is missing from the list, I would love to hear from you. Just drop me a message here. I am always looking for new recommendations.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I welcome any questions, sarcastic comments, or additional thoughts you may have. Please feel free to reach out HERE — seriously! If you were helped by something you read, please share it with your sphere of influence. Thanks!