GTD and (or versus) Log/Journal/Diary

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by AFG, Sep 24, 2018.

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Do you keep a log / journal / diary, in addition to GTD's lists? If so, how many pages per day?

  1. 0 - I don't keep a log/journal/diary

    27.3%
  2. 1 - circa 1 page of log/journal/diary per day, e.g. in a day planner page

    63.6%
  3. 10 - circa 10 pages of log/journal/diary per day

    9.1%
  4. 100 or more pages of log/journal/diary per dayt

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    BRIEF: I would appreciate any thoughts/advice on how GTD, with its lists (sorted by context, project, etc.), can co-exist with a system that mostly based on time ordered Logs (aka Journals, aka Diaries)

    ---+ DETAIL

    I am a long-time wannabe GTDer. Tried around time of first edition of the GTD book. Some stuff stuck that first time, but much fell away. Trying again.

    The stuff that stuck from my earlier attempts to use GTD - and/or other personal time/goal/task management systems (whether digital or manual) - was CAPTURE - trying to capture everything on paper or electronic. "Mind like water" very much appeals to me.

    However, my CAPTURE system is mostly to use time oriented LOGs - one for work proprietary stuff, one for personal. And to be assiduous about writing things down, copying into the LOG, etc.

    Such LOGging works for me. I am fairly sure that I have captured stuff. I can rest easy in that regard.

    However, accessing the time oriented log can be a pain. Digital searching helps. But I really want yo do things like have the GTD next action lists.

    I can manually rearrange the time oriented LOG entries into GTD lists. But that can take a lot of effort. In the past, using programmable editors like GNU EMACS org-mode, I was able to put TO-DO items into my LOGs, and then extract. But "modern" tools are much less flexible than simple

    I have been reasonably successful at have time oriented LOG entries get reorganized into PROJECTS by topic. Typically, I create a time-LOG entry - and then move the page away to the project, leaving a link behind. Or, if I am editing existing project stuff, I leave a link in my LOG saying "worked on PROJECT XXXX"...

    It's a pain top create such links. But it is worth it for a big chunk of content.

    For a small chunk of content, like a typical GTD to-do item, this overhead is a bit too much, cross linimg LOG entries and GTD next action lists.

    But, if I just wrote an item down in a GTD next action list, and/or a GTD project list, without recording it in my time ordered LOG, I get hideously frustrated. I am used to finding stuff in my time oriented LOG. Not so much in the GTD lists.


    NOTE: my LOGs are not so much to record what I have done for billing, or even to record time spent. They are mainly to record things as I encounter them - meeting notes, etc. Action Items assigned during meetings. And so on. I typically record at least 10 pages, often 100 pages, a day, many of which are drawings / screen snips.



    So, overall, my question is

    1) Do other folks manage to use time based LOG/diary/journals in conjunction witgh GTD?

    2) If so, do you maintain both LOGs and GTD lists? Do you move stuff out of the LOGs into the GTD lists, leaving the LOG gutted? Do you copy stuff from LOG to GTD lists, violating the principle of Once-and-Only-Once? Or do you manage to cross-link LOG and GTD lists?


    Or... do GTDers recommend giving up on time based LOG/journal/diaries? Such a recommendation would count more from people who have used time based logs in the past, but who eventually had to switch, perhaps reluctantly - than it would from people who have only ever used GTD.



    Overall, time based LOGs have worked for me, for many decades. But... I want to improve my game, perhaps using GTD techniques. But I am reluctant to give up sometjing that has worked for me.
     
  2. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I put every day's what I did into my calendar system. I actually have several calendars so I can track how much time I spent on each of my main areas.
     
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  3. Gardener

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    I would tend to see those logs as project support material.

    I don't keep logs in this way--the closest thing I can think of is the garden journal that I kept for a couple of years but failed to keep this year. It had a page for every bed in the garden (12 rows X 10 beds/row plus some other areas) and a drawing of the garden. Every time I planted or amended or fertilized or whatever, I put a dated note in the appropriate page--or I was supposed to, and I was fairly reliable. :) I tried to regularly wander around the garden and take dated notes of what was happening, on the appropriate pages--these seeds were up, those had their first true leaves, that was budding, etc.

    This journal interacted with my GTD lists, in both directions. (When I say "GTD" below, I mean "my GTD lists". I realize that project support material is also part of the GTD system.)

    If I were to do this again, I might have a Start journal project where...actually, where right about now, I would start a new journal. (Maybe I should do that.) So GTD would feed the journal.

    I would use the journal to plan the garden. I would draw the garden plan, create the pages, scribble what I planned to plant where, erase, change, erase, change.

    And eventually I would have my plans down, and the journal would feed GTD--I'd create projects for the various plantings, things to buy, things to research. Really, GTD was probably driving some of the planning and scribbling, too.

    So, the journal would "know" that I want to plant a rugosa rose hedge. GTD would direct me to research and choose roses; the named rose varieties would be entered in the journal. GTD would direct me to prepare and amend certain beds; the journal would get notes saying that I had done so. GTD would tell me to get a few more cubic feet of compost; the journal would know how much of that compost I put on what bed. GTD would tell me to plant and add drippers; the journal would be told what I planted where, and how many of what kind of drippers.

    As the year went by and I added notes to the journal, I might mark certain ones as project triggers--maybe I see that there are about to be more beans than we can eat, so I add a note, "Project for U-Pick party!" I'd make a habit of quick-paging through the journal for each weekly review, to find those items.

    In the end, the stuff in GTD would be gone--checked off, eventually deleted. The journal would go on the shelf and be kept.

    I don't know if this is relevant to your question or not.

    Now that you've triggered the thought, I think I am going to start a journal for this year (the garden year starts and ends for me with the fall rains, so it's about to start), but in Scrivener, not the bound-paper journal that I used before.
     
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  4. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    I have often thought about doing this - using the calendar both for scheduling of future events, and recording of what has passed. The grid-like calendar view would not be appropriate, except as a quick summary - but so long as there could be a sequential text view as well.

    In fact, I *did* do this for a while - before shared calendars at work became common. Unfortunately, having to use Outlook Calendar at work, with an IT department that deletes stuff more than N~45 days old, makes using the shared calendar as a record/diary/journal/LOG not very practical.
     
  5. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    Quite relevant, thank you.

    Yes, I agree - I think of my LOG as both project support material, and also as a sort of semi-structured INBOX.

    LOG as INBOX: I enter stuff that is related to the main arc of my activities into my LOG - although I also have generic INBOXes to capture things like web pages and screen shots. I scan/process my LOG along with my INBOXes.

    LOG as PROJECT(SUPPORT): First, small projects may just be one or two LOG pages, sometimes with a few check off items. I'm now trying to link those simple projects into the GTD projects list.

    Second, when I realize that I have accumulated several pages on same topic, I will create a section/folder/notebook and move those pages from my LOG into this explicit project support area. Leaving links behind. I'm now trying to link those simple projects into the GTD projects list.

    In some ways, I think that the LOG is just a simple default way of creating a project, without having to give the project a name. (Related: I think I may post a question about how people organize their project support material.)

    I think of the GTD next action lists, the PROJECT list, the PROJECT support area, my LOG,etc., as separate views of what is essentially one database - the work that I want to do. My LOG is sorted by time, PROJECTs by topic, GTD by context, and highly filtered, lining to the project support stuff. Other systems sort by time required, etc.

    Keeping different views of the same data is hard to do by hand, whether on paper or in SW with limitations, like a text editor. Links help, but you still have to do the manual editing to keep the views consistent. Computerization should be able to keep such multiple views consistent, but tools often fall short.
     
  6. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    This is quite doable with 2modern" tools as well. You can use #todohashtags or @@contexttags or whatever you come up with inline in your LOGs and the use search to create the lists.

    If you are able to use org-mode, you will be able to use the terminal or AppleScript (and whatever the Windows equivalent would be), to set something up.
     
  7. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    My automation is usually more complicated than a simple search. E.g. I might search/scan for all instances of a tag, then see if each instance has already been placed into one of several hierarchical tables. If it has, I don't do anything (except maybe check that it is still consistent. If the instance is not already in the table, then I may place it in the table - but where I place it may depend on context. E.g. it might appear as a sub-task of some existing project, or just be added to a grab-bag that needs to be sorted by hand into the tables. All of the above is performed by code, no manual work until the end.

    This is what I mean by "modern tools are much less flexible". Older tools like GNU EMACS are designed around extensibility, for users who are programmers. So-called modern tools are designed around appealing to non-programmer users.

    I enjoyed AppleScript back when I used a Mac. At least it provides programmatic control of almost every feature of a program for which there is a menu item - as compared to MS VBA, which often cannot automate features that exist on a menu. But AppleScript is by no means a complete automation system, and can be quite fragile. I haven't used a Mac as my main system in two years, so perhaps there has been improvement, but IIRC AppleScript support was decaying rather than improving.

    Unfortunately, automation support doesn't seem to be important in the market place. :-(

    My current main complaint is tools like OneNote that use proprietary binary file formats, often databases. This prevents me from using external tools to search for things like tagged items, so I am restricted to the limited abilities of the built-in search and other automation. I used to have hope that XML and JSON would allow external tools to look into such file formats, but again that seems to be less common.
     
  8. Gardener

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    Scrivener (yes, I'm going there again) does have tags ("keywords"), and search by tags--though what I describe below is, I believe, not available on the iOS version.

    So I could tag a file "Inbox" and then later I could remove the tag, or add a tag "Moved" if for some reason I want to hang on to the fact that it was an inbox item. But that is at the file level, while OneNote, if I recall correctly, lets you tag just a paragraph in a file.

    Now, that would to some extent be countered by the apparently-infinite file nesting levels in Scrivener, and the fact that you can view and edit multiple files at once. (If you're in "Scrivenings" view mode, you can highlight a bunch of files, and they will all be shown in one editable area, with a little gray dividing lines between them.)

    Scrivener also uses a proprietary file format--I believe at its core it uses RTF, which would seem to open the possibility of an API someday, but there is no API, and the glue that's used to tie it all together is not, as far as I know, documented for the general public.

    You can export ("compile") your Scrivener files to text or PDF or I think RTF, but I'm not seeing that as terribly useful for your needs here, except for the "my data is imprisoned in a proprietary file format!" concern. And it will just export the files themselves, I believe, not the tags or notes or custom meta-data.

    (You can have custom meta-data. That can be handy.)

    I can also just search for any old string in the file itself, and then drag the results to a Collection. The Collection is displayed in the same way as your normal list of files (the results of a keyword search are displayed the same way), so you can amble through it reading the text, changing keywords, whatever. And of course you can just arbitrarily drag files into a collection.
     
  9. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    I should not have whined about automation, support thereof.

    I meant this post to be not about computer tools, but about whether anyone else uses a chronologically ordered time based LOG as part of their GTD system - howsoever based, whether paper, OneNote, OmniFocus, Scrivener, etc.

    Whether there is anyone practicing GTD who depends on a time based LOG as much as I do.

    Whether there are folks who used such LOGs before GTD, and then gave up - either because it was too much hassle, or because they did not need a LOG any more.

    If anyone is using GTD with a LOG, what their tools are. OK, that's a tool question.


    Keep at it - Scrivener sounds interesting, and I will have to check it out.

    At the moment I am rather stuck in the MS OneNote ecosystem, and would have to somehow migrate 10 years' worth of data - or abandon it, which is a bit of a worry when stuff may be patent related.

    I switched from GNU EMACS' org-mode to OneNote circa 10 years ago mainly because I grew to depend on being able to drag and drop or paste bitmap images into my LOG (and other notes). OCR thereof. Also I wanted to use my collection system on my phone. Org-mode is basically text (EMACS' image support was weak), and not very functional on phones. I knew I was giving up programmability when I switched, but I hoped that MS might extend. I purchased OneTastic macros for org-mode.

    I could probably start creating a comparison shopping table for tools, features, file formats, etc.

    Features like "OneNote has a web.interface, allowing my coworkers to look at OneNote notebooks I have shared." The fact that I often share my "project support" stuff with others may be an obstacle to me switching from OneNote to Scrivener.

    But I was hoping to not have to change away from my OneNote based system at this time. I was hoping that there might be other forum users using OneNote for GTD. Or who used OneNote as project support, in combination with something else for GTD's lists.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
  10. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    By the way, I just had a good example of why I use a chronological LOG:

    I have been working from home waiting for an electrician. He had to write a paper receipt since no cell phone reception at my house. (I have posted elsewhere about how I can't rely on web.connectivity.)

    I just photographed the receipt, and stuck in in my LOG, along with notes, and a TO DO item about a GFI. Filed the paper in a similar time indexed filing system for paper.

    (I sometimes say "Using time means never having to struggle to come up with a unique name.")

    Because of OneNote's OCR, I am confident that I can find this item electronically (and hence the paper version) without further moving it around. No worrying about "Now where do I file this - House/Maintenance/Receipts, or ...". If this was tax or rental related, I might link the time based LOG entry into a tax/rental folder - but it is nice to have at least one indexing system that always applies.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  11. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    @AFG my above comment was not meant to be so much about automation in general, but more specific to your topic, how to extract the @context-lists out of your LOGs.

    What I basically was hinting to: you can replicate Org-Mode's TODO function with modern tools.

    If you stamp your LOG entries with a string, say, "#@errands", a simple search for "#@errands" would return your @errands list. Basically the same thing, that Org-Mode's Agenda does.

    At least that's what I meant to say.
     
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  12. Cpu_Modern

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    Even though I am a "Snapple fanboi" I don't do "Apps".

    As you rightfully pointed out, the databases of theses tools can't be accessed from outside ie. scripted against, so they are out of the equation for me. (I also don't like the idea of having my data in the cloud somewhere. If the President of China wants to know what I am up to these days, he can make a phone call and say "Hello!" like any other decent person would do.)

    So, my system, my support material, my general reference, all my journals and diaries, etc pp - all of it, lives in classic file folders and files. Markdown predominantly, but also the rest of it: PDF, PNG, RTFD, JPEG, and so on.

    Open file formats. What an idea…

    Now, because of that, I do have everything in chronological order implicitly, because the computer records "date created", "date modified" and so forth.

    I do use a lot of "views" via smart searches, tags and the like, and yes, some of them are Journals/LOGs types…

    But I also have made some chronoLOGy explicit. All files in my general reference are chronologically ordered via a system that is akin to what Dr. Bunsen describes over at his blog.

    While the LOG, the chronological view on things, has helped me with my personal understanding of my life and work, I found the sorting per project or per topic much better for pure findability than any chronological order every time.

    I also did use other types of LOGs in the past, it all started with planner.el
     
  13. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Scrivener files are packages and you can dissect them easily on the mac by just right clicking and show package contents. That's how you can use a Scrivener document in GIT and have the pieces automatically update. It's also how they handle the sync using Dropbox between Mac and iOS versions without downloading everythign all the time.
     
  14. chirmer

    chirmer Registered

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    I'm gonna hop in here with an incredibly simple/basic log method I do (at least, in comparison to the rest of the thread!): Bullet Journal.

    I combine Bullet Journaling and GTD, and have for 5 years (and 11 notebooks). I keep my Next Actions lists and calendar digitally, but start each day by 1) processing my inboxes and then 2) creating my daily entry in my bullet journal (bujo). I am on my feet all day (usually meetings), or in various software, where it's a complete pain to constantly flip between software. I like having the notebook out in front of me, separate from it all - honed and focused. I work in marketing so I have a lot of deadlines, and I succumb to decision fatigue very easily. I despise checking my Next Action lists for every next task, so making the decision once in the morning helps me greatly. I just go through each, pick out the top 6 tasks for the day (per the Ivy Lee method), copy down anything for today from my calendar, and I'm off.

    As the day goes on, I take notes in my daily entry. Meeting notes, phone call notes, the day's happenings... it's my work journal, of a sort. I work on the tasks from my daily list. As new tasks come up, I note them in my daily entry (NOT my task manager). I work from my notebook during the day, period. If I have to sit there and decide, "Wait, should this go under today's entry, or go on my calendar? Or my task lists?" I lose valuable time and decision-making resources. It goes in the notebook, end of story. Then, at the end of the day, I go through my entry and do the standard bujo method of "migration." I look at each incomplete task. Was it new today? If so, it then goes in my task manager. Meeting notes? I scan them with my phone and add them to Evernote, then add an entry for them in my notebook's index. Once I deal with everything that belongs somewhere else, I create tomorrow's entry and migrate anything I didn't get to today but really need to address tomorrow. Then tomorrow I come in and repeat the entire process.

    So throughout the day, my daily entry is also my predominant inbox. Yes, I have a paper inbox for physical things to process. I use my email inbox and default Evernote notebook as well. But I tend to not write on scraps of paper - I never have them lying around. I just make a note (or task, or event) in my bujo and continue on my work. I also cannot express how helpful it is to have a log of my days. I reference it all the time. My coworkers often come up to me to ask when this or that happened, because they know I write it down. It's one habit to learn. Write it down. It's not dependent on context, or location, or internet. I always have my pen and notebook. Write it down. It's low friction, low barrier to entry, and has worked for me for 5 years now. No complicated software, no complicated process. I could do it in my sleep. And that's why it works.
     
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  15. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    This is very nice! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and am glad to see your great approach. Thanks for sharing, @chirmer! :D
     
  16. Longstreet

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    And may I ask where in Indiana? My home town is Evansville. :D
     
  17. chirmer

    chirmer Registered

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    Greater Ft. Wayne area! Sadly, quite far from the southern part of the state.
     
  18. petdr

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    IMO, you more or less have mastered the most important skill -- capturing. And if these LOGs come natural to you, I don't see why you would want to learn a new capturing method. OrgMode is flexible but its strength -- customization -- is also its weakness. How familiar were you with OrgMode and what about it didn't work for you?

    If you are already capturing things in text files or LOG files, having an init.el customized to your needs would be awesome. Most people who did not do well with OrgMode usually has problem with not being able to capture in ways compatible with OrgMode -- you seem to have that down.

    I use OrgMode (with GTD framework) as well as (mostly Miquelrius) paper journals. I love journals and handwriting helps me think. I enjoy seeing my handwritten notes decades later. But, despite indexing and various tagging schemes for notebooks, OrgMode is still my go-to when it comes to quick, accessible searches for details on past events. I wish I was as good at capturing as you seem to be!
     
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  19. Cpu_Modern

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    I wasn't aware of those, very nice!
     
  20. John Ismyname

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    I keep a running log/journal/diary in my calendar ap. I use MS-Outlook but many calendar aps can do this. In fact, I use to use a paper based system to do this decades ago. The biggest benefit is being able to determine the quality of my day based on what I did. I contend that the general population doesn't have a clue how they spend their days.
     

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