@phi Thanks, listening to that now… sounds like he has a single journal for everything which is mostly about reflection, habits, etc.
The decision of what files to choose to record things in seems to have a big impact. Alphabetical filing made a big difference to my paper filing when I read GTD. Recording a separate log of “when did that happen” made a big difference to the amount of time I spent painfully sorting through records trying to find those things out, find that stupid order number, etc. – and for knowing this stuff where previously I just wouldn’t know at all.
Part of this is habit – you have to record things reasonably consistently for records to be useful. Connected with that is granularity: if things are too fine-grained they get lost and forgotten. If I recorded a list of all the “literature” novels I read, it would be short enough that I’d forget to use it. A list of all books I read is easier to maintain consistently (though, erm, these days that’s also a bit empty… goal coming soon). Many little things I’ve tried have failed in this way: the file (or heading in an org file, or whatever) was too specific, or it was too hard to remember which file something belonged in. It’s not that they were too detailed: I’ve often found I can put the same information in a bigger bucket and succeed. Other things I’ve tried have failed because they’ve been too cluttered up and I can’t see my thinking on a particular subject clearly, or it gets lost in the noise and I forget to make progress with it at all.
All of that is part of why I’m interested to hear other people’s habits with logs: one thing I’m looking for is ideas for how to split things up, or join them together. Not the only thing of course: I bet people also journal / log about things I haven’t even thought of – like I hadn’t even thought of journalling about my habits until narthur suggested it.
Since I say ‘files’, by the way, perhaps I should say why I choose that word: I don’t literally mean files (a page in an app that is conceptually similar could be a “file” for these purposes), but techie tools always promise that tags and indexing will solve these sorts of problems, but over the years I’ve got a little skeptical, having watched my own behaviour of starting off recording tags diligently, and then rarely actually using them much to organise or find things. A lot of the problems that we’re actually trying to solve actually have to do with getting stuff arranged in functioning form in own own heads, and my brain works reasonably well with finding stuff that is arranged in 2D/3D space – perhaps part of the problem is that tags aren’t very spatial? Tags and indexes (and just brute computer search power) are certainly helpful occasionally for “where the heck did I put that??” questions of course.