Capturing Life with a Daily Record

Nothing is too Small to Capture

Your task list and calendar are critical tools. They represent how you plan to spend your day.

Some days, our plans hold up. Some days require us to be flexible. At the end of the day, your plan probably doesn’t reflect what you actually did.

This is where your daily record comes in. It’s the third leg of the stool for your daily plan. It’s a chance for you to take notes on your day.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock/thodonal

Someday, you’ll want to refer back to today and piece together what you did. What will help you do that? What you capture is up to you.

  • Meeting notes. Jot down key decisions and commitments made, especially if it’s your action item or you need to follow up.

  • Phone calls. A phone call is just another meeting. Take notes. Jot down the name of the person you spoke to so you can thank them by name at the end of the call.

  • Commitments you’ve made. When you agree to be someplace or do something, it’s okay to jot down a quick note now and add it to your calendar or task list later. If you do this, it may be a good idea to add a reminder to sweep your recent planner notes as part of your weekly review.

  • Receipts. In the last week, I’ve needed to consult two receipts that were 2–3 months old. If you realize that something was reimbursable, expensible, or deductable, it’s nice to have the receipt handy.

  • Parking Permits. Snap a picture of your parking stall number or section so you remember where you parked. Capture the parking permit or meter so you know when you’re paid through.

  • Moments. Your journal is a social media platform where everyone who follows you is fascinated by every detail of your life. Don’t worry about capturing every day in its fullest detail, but pick one thing to write about. just a sentence or two will be enough. If you want to develop the habit of daily journaling, always stop writing while you still want to write more.

  • Mementos. Go to a concert? Scan your ticket. Haven’t seen someone for a while? Take a picture with them. Use more than words to describe your day.

  • What you had for lunch. The Library in Laramie, Wyoming, has the best Reuben I’ve ever had. The best sweet potato fries, too.

  • Things that made you smile. Write down compliments you’ve received, or something you saw someone do that you liked. Focus on the good you see around you.

  • A new word you learned. sesqui- — Latin prefix meaning “one and a half”.

  • Random thoughts. “Why do Apple Jacks exist? Froot Loops taste better.”

  • The odometer when you put gas in the tank. Do you know how many miles you put on the car in a year? It will help you plan for scheduled maintenance and when you’ll need to replace your car.

  • How long it took to get to work. It helps to know.

  • Reservations. When you make a reservation, write down the pertinent details in the notes for the day you’ll check in. When the day comes, you have the address, phone number, and reservation number right there.

  • Bills you pay. When I pay a bill, I’ll make a note that I did so and include a screenshot of the confirmation number or receipt.

  • People you met. Scan their business card or link to their LinkedIn profile.

Evernote is a great way to complete your digital planning system. You can capture anything in it. I also use DayOne for journaling and YNAB to track and plan our spending.

What you capture is up to you. What do you find useful to refer back to? What do you find meaningful to look back and reflect on? What will help you see your growth and development?

If in doubt, capture it. Bits are cheap. The information can be priceless.

Question: What do you record about your day? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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