Organizing your Army documents is a challenge, especially if you don’t have a system. Also, you need specific documents, especially if you’re in-processing or clearing.
The problem with prioritizing your documents is that there are so many of them that it’s challenging to know what you need. Cue the “I Love Me” Book.
You may have heard of an “I Love Me” book. But there’s a lot to know when you start building your book.
We’ll dive into setting up your Army “I Love Me” book and what it’s used for.
What’s an “I Love Me” Book
An “I Love Me” book is a portable, central spot for the most important documents you need while at your units.
If you think about it, your “I Love Me” book should be your Officer Record Brief (ORB) in a binder, plus other documents you need for in-processing and clearing.
Your “I Love Me” book should include everything you need to verify certificates, keep updated recurring tests/qualifications (PT card and weapons cards) and include anything else branch-specific that your branch requires.
The following section will show you A WAY to assemble your “I Love Me” book.
Overall, the “I Love Me” book aims to grant you easy access to your most important documents.
This might seem self-explanatory, but I’ll list a few supplies anyway. Here’s what you need for your book:
- A three-ring binder (white or black is suitable)
- A Table of Contents Page
- Dividers (Preferably with labels)
- Page protectors
You don’t need anything fancy (unless you want to). Go to Word, make a cover page for your binder, and make your sections.
I have dividers with a table of contents page at the front, so it’s nothing extravagant. So, you need it functional, not frilly. So, here’s the front of my “I Love Me” book:
I’m not going for Pinterest Perfect here. It needs to be easy to identify and work in. Functionality over looks is my opinion.
Here’s How I did mine:
- Current ORB
- Most Current OER Support Form/Past OERs
- Curriculum Vite (Resume)
- Weapons Qualifications/PT Card
- Schools (certificate producing) and Certificates (AT Lvl 1 and stuff)
This is a general list. But there are some branch-specific sections you may include. For example, if you’re Airborne qualified, you’ll want your jump packet in its own section because Airborne units expect that packet for jump pay/hazard duty orders.
Also, if you have specific certifications, qualifications, or training that you need to produce evidence of proficiency for, consider making a section of its own.
You’ll have documents at various points during your military career. Also, some sections may only include one document (IE: your bio), and some may consist of many forms or certificates (schools or orders).
Try to stay as consistent as possible. Here are some simple ways to organize your sections:
- Currency: putting the most current at the front of each section
- Relevancy: putting your most relevant documents at the front of each section
Another problem with these books is clutter.
I know it’s hard, but I promise that your new unit doesn’t need your AT Level 1 certificate from 2015. Shred it.
Discard (using proper Operational Security practices) any certificates or documents with an expiration date or are momentarily irrelevant. Clutter is your enemy with these books because you cannot find what you need if those crucial documents are buried in AT Level 1 certs from 2010-2019.
For example, you don’t need orders from your past two duty stations. File those away at home because you don’t need them in your “I Love Me” book right now.
The point of your “I Love Me” book is not to include EVERYTHING you have ever done in the military. That’s what your filing cabinet is for. Instead, your “I Love Me” book facilitates ease of reference for your most important documents at that particular time for a specific reason. So file everything else away except for your AT Level 1 cert from 2015.
When should you update your “I Love Me” book? You can change it whenever you need to (probably preferred) or when you’re about to change units. It’s a good idea to update when you spot an error on your ORB or get a new certificate.
It seems self-explanatory. Have a system for updating your “I Love Me” book, and you’ll have the documents you need at the right time.
All new LTs need an “I Love Me” book. It makes in-processing and clearing much easier for you and your unit when you have everything on-hand instead of tossed in a backpack or file folder.
Moreover, an organized “I Love Me” book helps make an excellent first impression on your new unit.
Do yourself a favor and get your “I Love Me” book taken care of before your next unit.
Do you have an “I Love Me” book? What do you put in it? When do you update it? Thanks for reading!