Back in late August, I made a decision to keep a business diary for myself. Today, Evelyn Mitchell from tummy.com left a comment here, asking how things have been going with it. The timing was perfect, because that topic was actually on my mind! :-)
I love my business diary. I used it daily (well, most days) and find it indispensable for capturing tidbits, thoughts, URLs and so forth. Since the original article was posted, I've moved to a plain text document which lives in BBEdit rather than RTF. I found rich-texty goodness not compelling enough after using the diary for a month. It seemed formatting diary entries was more fiddle than feature, so I moved to plain text.
Another reason for the plain-text-via-BBEdit direction, was to eliminate another running app. I use BBEdit for website development all day long, so it seemed crazy to run TexEdit just to keep a diary. BBEdit 8 happened to add a multi-document window option around this same time, which allows me to leave the diary running without having additional doc windows open, cluttering the screen.
Related to the plain text move, I now sync that document over to the Palm Tungsten E via Documents To Go. Wordsmith for the Mac can't handle anything but RTF, so the switch was required. But what I'm finding is, I never really look at the diary on my Palm. I mean, it's very nice to have it there as a backup, or if I'm visiting a client — its just that so far I've not used the diary on the TE in that way.
As for regularity, I don't post notes in the document every day, though I try to. Sometimes my workday is very busy, so I might add comments from a prior day I'd missed, while entering tidbits about the current day. I don't want to feel compelled to add something each day, useful or not. I'd prefer that my work diary serve me, rather than the other way around.
Client specific notes do go in the diary, and then are transferred over to DayLite, a great new OS X app we're using at MakaluMedia. I've also found that comments in the diary are regularly re-used as emails to colleagues or clients. So, the diary acts as a scratch pad area in some sense.
URLs continue to be recorded in the diary, though lately I've been really diggin' storing links at the free online social bookmarking service called del.icio.us. This service lets you capture web page links in your own database, add descriptions and category tags. The service includes bookmarks for your browser which let you post to del.icio.us in a pop-up window or the same browser window — these really are a key to making del.icio.us useful and fast.
Even cooler, links are shared with others via web, RSS or within the del.icio.us system. I suggest you check it out yourself to see how it might work for you. My only beef with del.icio.us — my bookmarks are on someone else's server. If they close up or the server poops out, I'm stuck. So, I still copy key URLs in my work diary and keep them in Safari.
If you're considering a new year's resolution to keep your thoughts, ideas, URLs and other text tidbits, i suggest you consider a work diary. The key is finding an approach that works for your needs, whether a paper planner, Moleskine notebook, plain text, or DayNotez on a Palm device. Remember: a work diary is there for you and not you for it.
Go forth, and journal! :-)