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Wednesday
Dec222004

Business Diary Concept: 4 Month Update

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! :-)

Reader Comments (6)

I keep a personal journal of my thoughts on my Palm with DESJournal. It creates an untimed/all-day appointment in the datebook and just adds lines to it. Then I can just use iCal (at home), DESJournal(Mobile), or Outlook (Work) to add entries to it. (DESJournal quickly adds a time stamp with the touch of a button, on the other two I have to type it in). I explain this so that I can tell you about my work journal. I really like how this organizes things, so I do something similar here at work. Everyday I make an All-day event in Outlook called Interesting Items(and mark it private), and I make notes in it, including interesting URL's that I maybe I shouldn't look at at work, like paint ball guns, or Blogging software, or PODcasting info. I also mark down anything that people might mention to me in meetings or in the hall, or in my office that may turn into a todo for me. Then when I get a down time, I will copy all of the info to the proper places (LifeBalance if a todo, memo for reacuring info). So I guess mine is more like a scratch pad than a journal, but it works pretty good.
December 22, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Johnson
It's weird how "great minds think alike". I've been pondering starting something quite similar. I've been pondering about all the information that crosses my mind and how to capture it. Stuff comes from everywhere, like e-mail, phone calls, physical meetings, instant messages, etc. Never thought about using a business journal, but that's a good idea.

Since I'm primarily on a WinPC, DayNotez looks like my application of choice for the moment. If I move to Mac this year, I may have to switch to like what you've got.

For what it's worth, if anyone out there is considering purchasing a Natara product, like DayNotez, I have a discount that you can use. It's reserved for Nashville PUG members, but there's a 20% discount at this link: http://npug.org/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=13014
December 24, 2004 | Unregistered Commentermashby
Thanks for describinbg your setup Alex. I think it's good to see how others work, so that each reader can make better choices for themselves.

Mike, thanks for the note. I really like DayNotez and if I had a PC I'd probably use it as well, though the advantages in using a plain text diary are something to consider too:

+ No fiddling with formatting needed or possible+ Completely portable and compaitble with everything (Mac, PC, Palm...)+ Fast and simple+ Forward compatible (plain text will never be an abandoned format)

Just some things to ponder about plain text. In your case, a switch to the MAc could be handled by exporting your DayNotez files to plain text. But as I said, each person needs to work out what works for them. For me plain text is quite useful, but I can certainly see advantages to tools like DayNotez and DESJournal, or xPad and Hog Bay Notebook for the Mac.
December 24, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Mike, I happened to be passing, and read your comments on keeping a plain text journal in BBEdit. I do exactly the same, and thought I might share a few tips with you and your readers:- I've created a template for my daily log as a Stationary in BBEdit, called ... 'Daily Log'. It has sections for the various bits i keep track of during the day: timelog, notes, tasks, invoicing issues, links etc. This makes it much easier for me to get started with my notes in the morning, and also ensures a consistent structure in the files.- Also, I use Markdown markup in my files, which makes it much easier to quickly post my notes to my blog. (You can find Markdown at http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/, which can also be installed as a Unix Filter in BBEdit.

Added you to my subscription list in NetNewsWire as well :-)



P�l

January 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterP�l Degerstr�m
P�l,

Thanks for the tips! So I take it you have one text document for every day? In a way I like just having that single document, since it's easy to search and scan and there aren't as many files to manage, but that's just my own taste.

Markdown is a good idea. I have scanned this app before but never looked deeply... I'll have a peek at that again.

Finally, thanks for adding me to your NNW RSS subs! I'm honored. :-)

Hej d�!
January 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Thanks for sharing your tips. It's always interesting to see how other people do that.
February 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMark, designer

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