My journal is in some ways similar to what ratfactor has described, only its not a hybrid analog/digital system. When I have time I will publish the second part, which describes how I implemented this workflow in Obsidian.
Without further ado, here is my workflow for keeping a digital journal:
- Have a daily note, that logs what important things have happened that day. One thing per dash. I don’t bother to log the time, because it’s information I do not use (it also prevents redundancy). NB: I sometimes have only one or two things logged for that day. Logging too much just drowns out the actually important stuff.
- If there is more to say: Instead of writing paragraphs about the thing in the daily note, branch it out into its own note and leave a link at the dash.
- This is basically a special case of point 2: Always create a note for ongoing projects: Write down what you’re doing in the project note. Use headings that link themselves back to the dailies - and link from the daily note to the project note: In this way you can see the progress made per project and don’t clog up your dailies, while at the same time retaining a list of the things you did that day.
- At the beginning of the next week, you do a weekly wrap-up: Last weeks weekly note gets populated by the important thoughts, projects, observations, ideas, etc. that occurred that last week: This often doesn’t take very long, because more often than not, you can copy and paste your most important bullet points from the dailies to your weeklies. You may want to add an extra comment to those here and there, or an extra thing, like an observation for stuff that didn’t get logged in the dailies but is deemed important enough to be remarked upon for the weekly.
- This pattern of taking the most important stuff from the dailies and putting it into the weeklies is repeated for each periodic note: The monthlies get populated by the weeklies, the quarterlies by the monthlies and the yearlies by the quarterlies. The most important stuff gets distilled even more the longer the timespan is the note covers. In this way the workload is kept relatively small, although the first round of wrap-ups every year can take a while, since you have to do a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly wrap-up all at the same time. But even then: It shouldn’t take longer than maybe an hour.
This little workflow is not too time intensive and at the same time gives me peace of mind: I do have a kind of journal of my life, which I can use to look back on what happened in my life.
I have been more or less doing this kind of journaling for two years now and can really recommend it. A word to clarify something important though: A journal kept in this way is not going to be a literary delight. Individual thoughts and observations might rise to that level, but the journal as a whole is much more utilitarian. If this is not a problem and you’d like the idea of distilling what’s been important this might be for you.
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