/ Q&A

Q&A: Do You Keep a Journal?

NOTE: This is a repost of an answer I wrote on Dev.To recently. First, the original question:

Do you keep a journal or diary of your day to day professional activities?
how do you do it? Pen and pad? word documents? dedicated software or tools?

Journaling is great, and teaching yourself the habit of keeping a log of your daily activities, pays off tremendously over time. Even better, sharing some or most of your thoughts with others.

Personally, I have been using various forms of note-taking for the past decade or so. I have tried always having a small notebook aside, but less so in the latest years, as I'm storing all of my notes electronically. For a few years, I was a strong Evernote user, going as far as to call it an extension of my brain. Eventually, due to Evernote’s feature bloat and growing complexity, I began searching again for a tool that would allow me to structure my thoughts in plain text with as little fuss as possible. Around that time I discovered Markdown. It’s been my best friend ever since.

Since I have a lot of ideas for side projects, I needed a way to keep my progress and findings up-to-date, since often, days or even weeks pass, before I get back to working on something. I started keeping detailed changelogs of all of the things I’ve been working on. The newest notes would end up on the top of the page, together with a date and time, of when a particular record was kept. Gradually, I realised that what makes those side projects valuable is not whether they will eventually get finished, but all the knowledge gathered while working on them. Having helped other people, gives me a rare sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. This is the reason that I have started outsourcing my journal out to my blog. Many of my posts are rough, some are unfinished, but if the knowledge I have gathered helps even one person today, it makes me happy. I started doing this around 2012, after reading Masters of Doom. As far back as during the mid-90s, John Carmack used to share his progress with the gaming and developer community in the form of rough .plan files, formatted as logs of his daily activities.

P.S. In case anyone is wondering what kind of editor I’m using right now, I eventually stopped on the minimalist, but genius Bear Notes for macOS and iOS.