by Mike Rohde
This year I decided to try keeping a logbook after being inspired to do so by Austin Kleon and his logbook idea.
At the end of December, I ordered a large single page per day Moleskine diary in bright yellow, and couldn’t wait to start the process of logging my days on January 1st.
I’ve never been one to do well keeping a regular diary in the traditional sense. When I’ve tried in the past, I’d start hot and fade after a few weeks of writing diary entries.
Digital tools haven’t solved this issue either. I love Day One, but have been off track for over a month in that app.
Yet, despite my issues keeping a traditional diary, it isn’t dampening my enthusiasm for keeping a logbook. This alternative approach to documentation fits me. It remains something I look forward to every day.
The difference? My logbook is a living document. I add to it as the day progresses, rather than trying to recall past activities and thoughts at the end of the day, in narrative form. I’ve shifted to capturing atomic bits of the day as they happen, rather than working to create a narrative of the day from memory.
I track my tasks with hand-drawn checklists, add icons with notes and comments about what I’m doing or should do, and if I have time or the inclination, I can add a short narrative from the day’s activities. But recall narratives are completely optional to the logbook pages.
I’ve made use of empty pages to sketch out concepts and ideas. On one occasion, I sketchnoted a TV documentary as an experiment for the book I’m working on called The Sketchnote Workbook.
I’ve also jumped back to past days, adding detailed narratives and notes to the pages to fill them in. Oddly enough, because my daily log is already on the pages somehow encourages me to fill in the details on memorable days.
Overall, the active nature of a logbook fits me much better than a traditional diary. I can verify it scientifically by the 4 months of entries in my yellow logbook. Now I feel incomplete if my logbook isn’t in my briefcase, and the desk seems empty if my logbook isn’t on top of it.
Exploring, experimenting and pushing my logbook has been an enjoyable and valuable experience. Why not consider starting a logbook of your own? It doesn’t have to start at the beginning of the year, nor be captured in a fancy logbook.
Learn more about Mike Rohde and his books, The Sketchnote Handbook and The Sketchnote Workbook at his site, rohdesign.com or follow him on Twitter at @rohdesign