Why keeping a journal improves productivity

Journaling has a long history. Here are three open source tools to help make your journaling life a little easier.
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Note taking hand writing

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In previous years, this annual series covered individual apps. This year, we are looking at all-in-one solutions in addition to strategies to help in 2021. Welcome to day 10 of 21 Days of Productivity in 2021.

When I was in primary school in the days before the commercial internet, teachers would often give my class an assignment to keep a journal. Sometimes it was targeted at something particular, like a specifically formatted list of bugs and descriptions or a weekly news article summary for a civics class.

People have been keeping journals for centuries. They are a handy way of storing information. They come in many forms, like the Italian Zibaldone, Commonplace Books, or a diary of events that logs what got done today.

Why should we keep a journal of some sort? The first reason is so that we aren't keeping everything in our heads. Not many of us have an Eidetic memory, and maintaining a running log or set of notes makes it easier to reference something we did before. Journals are also easier to share since they can be copy/pasted in chat, email, and so on. "Knowledge is Power. Knowledge shared is Power Multiplied," as Robert Boyce famously said, and the sharing of knowledge is an intrinsic part of Open Source.

One of the critical points when journaling events is to make it fast, simple, and easy. The easiest way is to open a document, add a line with the current date and the note, and save.

Several programs or add-ons are available to make this easier. The GNote Note of the Day Plugin automatically creates a note titled with the date and can be used to store content for just that day.

Emacs Org has a hotkey combination to "capture" things and put them into a document. Combined with the org-journal add-on, this will create entries in a document for the day it was created.

The KNotes component of Kontact automatically adds the date and time to new notes.

Keeping a journal or record of things is a handy way of keeping track of what and how something was done. And it can be useful for more than just "I did this" - it can also include a list of books read, foods eaten, places visited, and a whole host of information that is often useful in the future.

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Kevin Sonney is a technology professional, media producer, and podcaster. A Linux Sysadmin and Open Source advocate, Kevin has over 25 years in the IT industry, with over 15 years in Open Source. He currently works as an SRE at elastic.


Thanks for reminding me that keeping a journal is a productive activity. I'm going to try doing this again. It will help me to learn MarkDown which was a goal a year ago.

You can use ZIM too. It has it's own plugin for this. I like this because you can link from or to our other tasks oder knowledge pages there.

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