Daily journalling is a key part of how I keep my projects moving. Without it I'd be wasting time every day trying to remember what I was up to, and what I should do next. That wasted time quickly adds up. This is particularly true when I switch between projects (currently weekly).

The Process

Here's what I do. Every day when my end of work alarm goes off, I:

  1. Finish up what I'm doing
  2. Write the date in my journal (a simple notebook from the stationery store)
  3. Write the heading "Today," and write down what I did today
  4. Write "Tomorrow" (or "Next Time") and write down what I plan to work on tomorrow (or next time I work on the poject). This includes all details that I think I'll need when I start work again. This includes links to documentation, thoughts on how to implement features or solve problems
  5. Write an "Observations" or "Improvements" section, where I look at how my work is going, and what improvements I could make on how to work. I don't do this every day, but try to make it a regular feature. The goal is to continually get a little better at what I do

How it Works

For starters, it captures what I should do next when it's clearest in my mind: right after I stop work for the day. There's no danger that I'll forget, because I no longer need to remember it; it's down on paper. This frees up my mind in the evening, and gets me up to speed quickly the next day (or week).

The "Next Time" section is especially important for me, because I alternate between projects weekly. Alternating projects so frequently is far from ideal, but is currently necessary for me.

The other big thing that journalling does, is it forces me to think about what I'm doing, how, and how to do it better (i.e., step 5). Otherwise I'd be so busy with tasks that I'd never get round to thinking about the whys and hows of what I'm doing.

How to Get Started

Get a notebook (a.k.a., exercise book) and pen, set aside time every day, and start writing. I recommend setting an alarm on your phone (or clock) to prompt you, as it's easy to forget. It took me several attempts to make journalling a habit. Setting the daily alarm was what finally stopped me forgetting, and helped form the new habit.