Daily Journaling is important to me. I do it because I like the idea of having an overall record of what was happening on any given day and I also like the organizational aspects and benefits of it. I write down things I need to do and I can put check-marks in asking myself to complete those things. Once I've completed them or given up on them, I can remove them from the list. There are better task management solutions out there, including Outlook on the Exchange server I run, and the tasks interfaces on my Windows Phone and iOS devices (which sync with Exchange) but there's something immediate and somewhat satisfying about the act of copying (either with a pen and paper, or with ^c and ^v) a list of pending items from day to day, crossing them out or checking their boxes as you complete them, and then not including them in the next day's copy of the task.
I have also found that sometimes, a file or a page titled simply with the day's date is the best place for free-form chatting about what's on my mind at the moment. It's also often more appropriate to keep these types of thoughts in a private setting (rather than on my blog) because they are often very repetitive. It also often works better than a single named page (such as this one, called "Daily Journaling") because I often feel compelled to bring what might be considered an overly large level of formality to a page with a specific title.
I currently have three journaling systems in place.
- The first is a personal OneNote notebook called Daily Notes. It is my one OneNote file that still lives in Microsoft's SkyDrive service, because I would like to access and edit it with my iPad, Windows Phone, and possibly Android tablets, in addition to my desktop computers. Example Page.
- The second is a work-focused OneNote notebook called Work notes. This notebook contains sections for daily notes, meeting notes, and long-term projects such as Microsoft PowerShell documentation I am currently collecting. (Stuff I want to collect and use on an ad-hoc basis, rather than necessarily put in the formalized knowledge base at my workplace.)
- The third, and oldest, is that I have a Staples Steno Book. I have been doing the Steno notebooks for ten years now and have done so at least as much for the times when using a PDA or tablet computer wasn't practical or allowed as for the fact that writing stuff down on paper with an acceptable pen (I use Pilot G2, 0.7mm pens typically) is very gratifying in its own way. Example Page.
I have tossed many systems by the wayside.
- Notably, I had nearly a full year where I was using nano/pico on a linux system to take class notes and daily notes. This folder was synchronized to my Dropbox account which then synchronized to my iOS devices via the application PlainText. It merits mentioning that the Android DropBox client seems to have implemented per-folder synchronization rules and an in-app text editor to fill this particular need on Android.
- On the iPad front, I am also a big fan of the application Paper by FiftyThree. I briefly attempted using an iPad stylus to take class notes, make diagrams, and jot some thoughts into this application, but I lack a good stylus for capacitive screens, and I had become worried about siloing my data into a particular device, especially one as big as the iPad and which I do not necessary carry everywhere. Making the decision to once-again carry my iPad everywhere all the time is not entirely impractical, but is not without its changes to the way I do many things.
From time to time, I think about combining my note-taking/journaling systems. However, it is a somewhat slow and careful-going process, as there are a lot of factors to consider.
The other consideration is that the digital journaling system I'm using is by and large incompatible with the Macintosh. There is no native client at all, and in order to use the web based version, I must either install new software on my server at home (annoying, but posible) or use a remote web application, the performance of which might be very poor on my computer.
I could use an application such as Day One
to move my journaling away from OneNote and SkyDrive to iCloud or Dropbox, but the question then is whether or not it is worth setting up a fourth
system for dialy logging, or whether it's worth moving to a different system for daily logging if it does some aspect better. For example, it might be better for me to move tasks back into Exchange so that I can manage those from literally every device I own, and then using Day One on my Mac, iPad, and iPod Touch to keep actual "journal" and "thought" content.