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Keeping a Personal Log with Rednotebook

One of the most important aspects of 'being organised' in the workplace is to keep some form of logbook. This is somewhere that you can record what you are doing on a day to day basis so you can reference it in future to remember exactly what happened (because our brains are rubbish at it).

I started by using an A5 page-a-day (provided by a vendor). While it was a very nice thing to hold and carry around, I struggled with using a paper diary for a couple of reasons:

  • As has been stated before, I am dyslexic and as such, my hand writing is a mess. I would not rely on anything written more than 24 hours ago.
  • Sometimes the pages weren't big enough and I would run out of space.
  • Unable to find events unless you know the date (e.g. unable to quickly find the last time the J101 pump broke down).

As a result, the paper diary only lasted a few month before I wanted to move over to something electronic. I had considered using a simple private wordpress blog or wiki however in this case I found using something web based to be too slow and clunky (and I would occasionally need access offline).

I came across and settled on Rednotebook an open source journal written in Python. Rednotebook is setup very similarly to the page-a-day diary that I had been using however because it is electronic, any individual day can be as long as is needed. There is a search function on the sidebar that lets you search for a term (e.g. J101) and it will filter all the days to show only the ones where it is used and highlight the occurrence.

I have now been using Rednotebook for over 4 years and am really glad that I have this resource of all my previous thoughts and actions. The one key element of using such a diary is that it is only as good as the stuff you put in. Even if things are really busy, it is worth taking time out to type up what has happened. There is nothing more frustrating than searching back and finding that the day in question is blank because you didn't find enough time to type it up.

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