I like blogging. It’s useful and it’s helpful for me, but it’s more about sharing than about collecting ideas and clarifying intent. I also need a private space to work things out. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve almost always kept a journal of some kind.
In some of my earlier projects I would work in plain text files. Every project would have its own project specific journal. This was helpful, as it kept my projects independent of each other, but painful to maintain. As I switched between projects I would keep losing track of updating and maintaining those individual documents.
I had tried switching to a word processor at one point, while maintaining the one doc per project, and that was even more cumbersome. The greatest strength of plain text documents is how light weight and universal they are. It didn’t matter whether the computer I was working on worked well or not. Everything could manage plain text files without overhead. No waiting for an application to load.
I switched back to plain text documents explicitly for that reason. The tweak that followed was moving to a unified journal. All my content in a single place. It meant that things found updates more often, but it was also more difficult to parse. Once you get past about twenty or so entries it just falls apart.
After that I started to break it into months. Each file serves its own month. I really liked this change as it lead to another change in my process. At the end of every month I review what I’ve done. Anything and everything. By having the journal segmented into months it makes it really easy to identify what that encompasses.
Still, being segmented only solved part of the problem. Parsing through could still be a bit difficult without any way of differentiating content. I didn’t want to move back to word processors, so I took to a cloud solution. Starting back in December I moved my personal journal into my Evernote account. The benefits so far have been pretty clear. I like that I can access my content anywhere I have an internet connection. I’d recently been running behind on updating my journal and took care it over lunch with my phone. That kind of flexibility is incredibly helpful.
I don’t think this is the best solution. I’m sure there are better ways of approaching this, but it works well for me, for now. I’m sure as I go along I’ll change it again looking for the lowest barrier to entry while maintaining functionality.