Getting into habit of journaling

Ever since I was a young kid, I have always wanted to keep a journal. Everyone told me it was a great idea. But I could never last long consistently keeping a journal. I would forget the notebook at home, forget to write for a few days, or something else entirely. I do keep a ton of notes, but other than what I keep in Org-Mode and sync to bitbucket repo, I can’t quite something that worked well for me. This worked well as long as my notes were in desktop? What about keeping track of the cool place in Chicago you had lunch a few months ago? What do you do about photos — other than pseudo journaling in Facebook or the likes. Not everything needs to be public, you know…? And, remember, your mom probably reads all those statuses too.

I used to think that suggesting friend “cool deep dish pizza place in Chicago” use case is why I was still on Foursquare, but after finding myself in St. Louis and not being able to pull my history from 2 years ago, I felt betrayed and stopped logging my location and giving free data to Foursquare.

I tried everything — Apple’s Notes app (works reasonably well on the tracking on phone and keeping photos, etc), Evernote, and DayOne. DayOne had looked the most promising but the many years ago when I tried it, it was somewhat clunky and didn’t seem to add much more than what Evernote did for me at the time.

Then, they released the new version with End to End encryption and I decided to give it a chance again.


It’s a good exercise to have a “mission statement” of sorts to yourself.

This is what I wanted from a modern note taking tool

  • Keep track of personal and work notes separately
  • Works on multiple platform — well. It didn’t matter to me that it doesn’t work in some Kindle Fire or all platforms, but wherever it did, it should run well.
  • Keep track of ideas I have over the course of day
  • Ability to resolve my week/month at the end — where I went, cool things I saw, etc.
  • Ability to sync to Dropbox, etc. ie it shouldn’t be a walled garden. Also this means I can use “grep” to find what I’m thinking about.
  • Easy format to write in — no weird, funky WYSIWYG interfaces that break my text and save in proprietary format in a MongoDB Collection somewhere.
  • End to End Encryption: (To be fair this is what tipped me over in the favor of DayOne over just writing my own)
  • CLI tool — I admit, I’m on the CLI all day, night. I want something that supports my lifestyle.
  • Reminds me to keep notes in a customizable way


I have quite a few notebooks now but the most important ones are here:

Journal — for personal stuff

Mist — for work stuff

Research — for keeping track of research papers, more serious stuffs. If I’m reading a paper — I’ll keep a note open to keep in mind what’s going on.

Ideas — A log of ideas

Karate — what I learned in the class that day

Classes — online/offline course notes.

The reason other notes have low numbers is, I’m terrible filer and everything goes by default in Journal. Yeah, the process is still a work in progress.

Work Notes

At 2:30pm I get a reminder that it’s time to make notes. Note the curious time of 2:30pm. I’ve noticed that this is the time when there’s generally a lull at work of some sort, most meetings are done, it’s not in middle of a lunch time that lets me skip stuff. And, it’s not early in the morning or late right before I leave work.

I have the task bar button enabled that pings me gently to make a note of the day.

At around 10:00pm, it will also notify me to add my day’s tasks. I use the following format.

- what you did
- where commits from the day goes

This gives a good place to post for next day’s Standup without having to scramble through your memory or notes on what you ended up doing the day before.


Since I also have the phone app, whenever I have some down time I’ll go over my previous week and tag and file them away. Since it records where I’ve been too — it’s useful to keep track of restaurants, even weather that was on the day. Ok, it’s California, chances are it’s bright and sunny! 😎

Daily Affirmations

This is a work in progress. I learned about improving happiness by writing down your daily affirmations. The idea is to write down things you’re grateful for and 3 things that’d make the day amazing. I started this a few weeks back — and still on testing phase.