I have long been intrigued by the usefulness and power of keeping a daily log of ones activities. I felt it was time to fully detail my method and workflow. Recently, I have been coming across many articles surrounding the methods and values of “life tracking”. I have some links to those articles and other related resources at the end of the post.
There are many useful reasons for keeping a daily log. For instance, in a former job, I had a micro managing boss who often popped their head into my office to ask what I had gotten done that day. Because I kept a good time stamped log of what I did, I was always able to tell her exactly what I had done, when I did it, and even how many times I was interrupted by other things that prevented me from doing even more (including her popping her head in my office).
The options and possibilities for how to keep a log are nearly endless. For instance, a simple piece of paper or notebook would suffice. The key, for me at least, is to make your Daily Log as simple as possible to add an entry to.
My daily log is a text file I call @log.txt. The preceding @ sign allows it to sort to the top of my finder window alphabetically. As plain text it is highly “portable” (i.e. I can open it up on any device). The trick is in the workflow and couple of tools I use to add a log entry. Without further adieu, here is how I tie it all together:
To add an entry, I invoke Quicksilver:
advantage of using Quicksilver is that it is available to me from any application I happen to be in at the time. I don’t have to “switch modes” to add an entry. I simply type “@log” and it finds my log file. I then hit the tab key and select the “Prepend Text” command. I personally like having the latest entry first in the file.
I then invoke a TextExpander command, triggered by typing “dlog” that formats the entry the way I wish:
I then type the entry, hit return and it is added to the file. The result is an entry that looks like this:
I store this file in my Dropbox folder so it syncs to all of my machines and “the cloud”. Thus, it is available to me anywhere I can access the internet.
This setup has been working very well for me for years now. I think a big key is to come up with something that is easy and as ubiquitous as possible.
For further reference and ideas, here are some other resources about keeping a daily log:
* For This Guru, No Question Is Too Big – Jim Collins tracks his activities to ensure he is spending time on the things he feels are important.
* Politican as self-tracker – Bob Graham’s notebooks – How a US Senator proved the CIA wrong with his obsessive self tracking.
* Ping’s Thesis – From Diary to Graph – How one man not only tracks his daily activities but also can graph it with fascinating results.
* My Big-Arse Text File – a Poor Man’s Wiki+Blog+PIM – Much of my own inspiration came from this post by my friend and short term personal saviour Matthew Cornell.
* Living in text files – Why do a use a text file for my daily log? The answers are here.
In a serious error of omission, I forgot to include probably the best two posts on this very subject written by my friend Chris Bowler: