Way back, in what now feels like the beginning of time, I read an interesting little “technical” book, Becoming a Technical Leader, which included a statement of, roughly, “if you want to be a real leader, start your technical journal today.” That sounded like good advice, so I got a spiral notebook and started. A page each day; sometimes more than one page. Thinking through events and thoughts and especially successes, was a great idea. But there was a flaw … it wasn’t easy searchable. In effect, I had a “deposit only” journal.
Fast forward. After many iterations through many different technologies (many of which don’t exist anymore) I settled on an easier journaling idea. I use a particular note-taking application, but the particulars don’t matter, and it is likely to change again in the future. The key is that I have one “page” for each date, January 1, January 2 … December 31. Within that page, I organize by year the notes of what I care about for that date. I include life events, historical events, and my gratitude items. I claim this to be a “one line” journal, but that’s often misleading. Some days it word-wraps to three or four lines. The key is to focus on what I’d like to remember ahead – especially things that make me smile.
Here’s the “magic” for me. Every day, near the start of the day, I review the journal page corresponding to the day’s date. Now I have, at a glance, all the interesting and good things that have happened on that date across time, not just my lifetime. What a great way to start the day, with a review of good things.
Confession: As the example shows, I keep track of birthdays and anniversaries and any other special dates in this same page-a-day journal. I’ve made it a habit to wish people happy birthday or happy anniversary or otherwise acknowledge special dates. People are often amazed at how I can remember all these things. Well, now you know, I don’t even try to remember. My system remembers for me. Does that make it less “real?” I hope not – please know that I went to the effort to put you into my system so I can be reminded. Note: I also use TimeHop to do some pictorial reinforcement of my historical notes. If I took a picture of you on a past birthday, that may be part of my birthday greeting to you this year.