One of my favorite past times is to look at the notebooks of famous scientists. Da Vinci's notebook is well known, but there plenty others. Worshipping Da Vinci like no other, I bought a Think/Create/Record journal, used it mostly to keep jot down random thoughts and take notes. This was great in the beginning, but the conformity of lines drove me nuts. Only moleskines made blank notebooks, so I had to buy one.
At the same time I started a freelance project. The project itself is irrelevant, but suffice to say it was very complex and spanned several months. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to use the moleskine. Looking back, all my entries fell under few categories:
Clearly there isn't any technological reason you couldn't use Github issues or Pivotal or Jira. I tried those, but none of them caught on. The real value for me, was oddly not looking back at the entries (I rarely do), but writing them down on paper, especially the question or thought. I'd write it down, research online, test it and write down the results. It gets tedious at times, but at the end of the day its a real pleasure to look back and see how far I've come.
If you decide to start your own journal, here's few tips:
- Keep a list of contents
- Number each page
- Note date & time before each entry
- Write everything everything
I've been doing this experiment for the past 4 months and it's been very helpful. Some days I'd feel lazy or be excited to write stuff down, but inevitably the regret train hits me the next day. Nowadays I open the notebook and write down date and time first thing in the morning.
This is part of River blog. See https://gist.github.com/3417820.
If you like the physical medium, you should try the Circa notebooks from Levenger. They allow you to reorganize pages inside the notebook in a pretty slick fashion! I have used these before and they work well. You can buy a hole punch to make your own, and print out your own templates to reduce cost (The products are rather expensive, so just get the starter kit to try it out).