talkative, friendly, programmer

Keep a Logbook and Love Your Tools

| Comments


If your job requires thinking of any kind you should be keeping a log book/ journal to keep a note of what you are doing. If you learn to love the process of keeping the journal it will be even more useful to you.

The story

When I first started work I instinctively started keeping a logbook of all of my activities. I grabbed an A4 notebook out of the stationary cupboard and started writing, this was mostly because the rate of information coming at me was more than I could handle, so I wanted somewhere to store it that was better than my head. But it was also because I could own a nice A4 notebook without having to pay for it, and this was quite a novelty.

Then this year I discovered the pen addict podcast and (despite my left handedness) I really got into paper and pens again. For the past 3 months I’ve been keeping a log of my work. Experiments, meetings, things that need fixing, ideas, new tricks, everything to do with my job.

Keep a Logbook

This is how I make use of a logbook, it’s mostly common sense:

  1. Always have it with me, even if I go for a walk.
  2. If you’re working at your desk, have it within arms reach.
  3. If you take a break, leave a note of where you’ve left off.
  4. When you return from a break refer to your log book to help you regain context.

This is what I write:

  1. Things I need to remember.
  2. Things I need to do.
  3. Things I want to talk about with colleagues.
  4. Ideas for future projects.
  5. Solutions to problems
  6. Results of experiments I’ve done
  7. Cool tricks I’ve discovered (editor shortcuts, programming patterns etc)

Reviewing your Logbook

An important part of any process is reviewing. Most days I will flip through recent pages of my notebooks and record anything that I think is important in Evernote or my teams kanban board. The act of reviewing notes also helps cement any new tricks I’d learned. The whole process I use is a topic for another time.

Love your tools

Something I’ve known to be true in programming for a number of years is that if you can learn to really love the tools you use then no matter how mundane your task seems to be you will love doing it, because using the tools is part of the fun. I’ve started to realise that the same is true of a number of walks of life. I’ve bought a couple of fountain pens, made my own pocket and full size midori notebooks, spent a stupid amount of money on field notes. But I also have a collection of programming related notes, ideas, insights that I keep catalogued. The process of writing all these notes is one I enjoy, in fact I look forward to it because I’ve come to love the tools I use to do it.

My tools

Here’s my current stuff (left->right, top->bottom)

  1. A4 clipboard from some team building thing I did a number of years back.
  2. A Field notes sized fauxdori (it also supports midori inserts).
  3. A lamy safari with LH nib.
  4. A Kaweco skyline with F nib.
  5. Full size fauxdori. (It also support field notes)

I made both fauxdoris myself, which means the act of using them is a pleasure in itself.