But in a very specific way.

Assumed audience: Other folks interested in thinking about learning, note-taking, and working effectively (in the ways that I work effectively, at least).

I’m trying something out this week: making journaling a part of my daily routine.

I have used journaling on pen and paper for personal and professional ends for a long time. I have also built daily logs of my work activity for my own professional development, as I discussed last month. I have also written down quite a few notes on things I learn. I have even made a point to integrate those to some degree.

What I have never done is develop a strong discipline around two pieces I think could work well together, and make my note-taking, learning, and logging all much more effective:

  1. Integrating my personal and work notes. Much of what I read is relevant to work, even if not directly; and much of what I do at work has long-term interest and relevance even after that work has been completed” in some sense.

  2. Applying the same goal-setting structure to both work and non-work tasks. I have used a lot of different to-do apps over the years, most recently Things. The most effective approach for me, though, is a digital bullet journal approach — which is why I use it for work!

I hypothesize that pulling the two together will make for a much more effective use of my notes system in general, and also help me stay on track on personal goals in a similar way to the way my planning and logging does for professional goals. (Honestly: it’s funny that I hadn’t thought to try this before!) This approach also gives me a nice coherent way to reflect the reality that my schedule includes both work and personal appointments. And it makes a reasonable place for me to write up notes which have the potential to last longer than a day, by jotting down comments on things I read or thought about.

My basic format for starting out is just a simple daily note, located in a new Ongoing/Journal folder in my notes. The template is simple as can be:

alias: <today's date>

# Schedule


# Personal


# Work Log

![[Work/Tracking/<today's date>]]

That handy little Obsidian embed correctly reifies the relationship between this day-level journal for everything I want to write down in a notes system and the work log, which is quite literally just a subset of it.1 Having a dedicated section for Notes is a handy prompt: rare should be the day when I don’t have anything to put there. Even just a quick note on an interesting blog post I read would be very valuable to my future self: I read a lot, and I often want to go back and find a thing I read in the past, and it has been a perennial struggle to find those kinds of things.

We’ll see if this sticks. One single day in, I like it.


  1. There is another subset, which is the deeply personal or emotional. I do not expect to put that in here; I find paper and pen to be a far more helpful medium for that kind of journaling. At some point in the future, I might try to make that a more daily habit as well. One habit at a time, though! ↩︎