I’ve tried many different things to track what I do and learn in my day-to-day work. I’ve tried a couple task managers, Trello, my blog, and even hand writing in a journal (bullet journaling). The last two months I’ve been trying out something new, and so far I’m pretty happy with it. Here’s how I’ve been using a daily log to boost performance at work.
First of all, if you don’t know what I mean by “daily log” let’s quickly explain that, and then I’ll get on to how I’ve been doing it and why.
A daily log is simply a journal or a log of the things you’ve done each day. It can be as detailed or as brief as you want.
Here’s an example of what mine looks like:
The point of it is to be able to go back in time and see the things you’ve done without having to worry about remembering everything. It also offers the opportunity to log other things too, like anything you’ve learned that day that only takes a second to jot down.
Why Daily Log?
Maybe you’re slightly interested, but still wondering why would you want to do this. What benefits are there? It sounds like a lot of work, so how does it make me more “performant”?
First of all, this is not going to make you more performant over night. After the first day, it was nice to be able to look at my notes when we did our morning standup – for sure – but I only recently started noticing huge benefits and I’ve been doing this for almost two months.
Being proactively prepared for morning standups is definitely nice, but the real wins start happening when questions come up about things that happened a month ago, or when you forgot something you learned last week.
As long as you keep the habit of jotting down quick TIL’s and code snippets, you’ll quickly accumulate a lot of easily digestible material that’s directly related to the things you work on day-in and day-out.
How I do it
Like I said, there are a few things I’ve tried out but just never really worked out. Instead of going over it all and explaining why they didn’t work out I’ll just skip to my current workflow.
I use https://hackmd.io
It’s a simple to use service that gives you a markdown document in the cloud. My little daily log doesn’t even touch the surface of what the service has to offer, but it suits my needs perfectly.
Everywhere I go, no matter what device I’m on, I can always pull up hackmd and check my daily log or add to it. Bit of a pain to add to it from my phone, but honestly, I’m usually only reading it if I’m using my phone anyway so not a big deal in my scenario.
Based on past failed attempts at keeping a daily log or tracking my work over time, I knew I needed a system that was very simple to use, and required no Maintainance at all.
I needed something that was basically as simple as jotting notes in a notebook but gave me the convenience of being digitized. So this what I do. It’s not ground breaking innovation in productivity tools by any stretch of the imagination but it works really, really well for my needs.
I open up my daily log and start with
## <today's date>
Then I add a
- and I write a comment about a task I worked on.
Then I keep adding dashes and comments about tasks as I work on them throughout the day. Wow. Mind. Blown. Right? Haha, probably not but OK still pretty cool.
Each morning I start by adding a new entry at the top of the log. So my history is in descending order. Older logs are lower in the document.
When our team has our morning standup I bring my phone with my and have hackmd open. I just read off what I worked on yesterday, and then use the KanBan to talk about any blockers – if any – and what I’ll work on today.
I don’t have to think too hard about recalling what I worked on, and I don’t have to worry about remembering after standup that there was something I meant to bring up or any of that non-sence.
Most days my daily log is just point form of what I did at work. Some days I add a TIL (Today I Learned) section using
### which is equivalent of an
The TIL section is usally just a bulleted list of things I learned that can be described in one line or sometimes if I need it, a code snippet.
Here’s an example:
My daily log is littered of all sorts of little things I pick up in my day-to-day work. When I come across a problem or situation where I need any of these again, I can grep through the document to find my notes.
The reason I use
## for the day and
### for subheading anything inside of that day is to get a nice TOC in hackmd.
Some days I’ll log personal stuff, as well as anything I did that, was related to a side project such as this blog.
I just continue following the format and will create a subheading with
### Blog or
### Personal or whatever makes sense on that day.
Now I know this isn’t going to get you as excited as bullet journaling did. But if you thought bullet journals were so cool, why are you not doing it? This is easier and free. And, you don’t have to feel like a hipster doing it. (Not that being a hipster is a bad thing – I just don’t like the feeling of… feeling like one)