How and Why Do You Use a Daily Note?

For those of you who use a daily note, I’m curious as to why and how? What benefit do you derive from a daily note? I’m not especially interested in the app you are using or the fact that you are analog. My interest is focused on the how and why of having a daily note.

I’m asking in part because my Today view in Reminders (or similar view in any task manager) gives me my top todo’s for the day. It is reliable because I’m consistent with my weekly reviews.

My practice has been to depend on the Today view for my todos and to create meeting notes for all of my meetings under a given project or department, e.g, Strategic Plan, Senior Leadership Team meeting, Board meeting, etc.

Teach me. :slightly_smiling_face:

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It’s a central point for my day and a jumping off point for any other notes I need to create that day

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Assuming you create meeting notes during the course of a day, do those reside in the daily note or do you create a backlink to the note under a project? I’ve always tended to group notes by person, project, department, etc.

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I write down anything I might want to refer to later. Anything that happened or I thought of. Most of it is useless that I will never need, but sometimes I want to remember when I did something and it is handy. It’s probably weird, but I document everything.

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The daily note works for me because life is not simply a list of todo items and meetings.

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I use a daily note primarily as an interstitial journal. It also lets me manually select my top 3 priorities for the day (I use Reminders as my primary tool). I record gratitude. I record my well-being. I note my Scripture focus for the day so it’s there throughout. I also use the daily note if I’m simply recording that I tried to call or visit someone with the appropriate @person tag.

(When I used Logseq I would put everything in the daily note, tagged e.g., #boardmeeting so it could be found easily. Now that I use Agenda I use notes in folders for recording meetings, interactions and writing reports and link them to the specific calendar event/reminder/date.)

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I find it momentarily cathartic to type out a few bulletpoints of things that are on my mind.

Occassionally, I’ll look back at them, or search them, but not often.

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I like those ideas, I can see myself adopting them. Thanks!

I use a daily note to put mental guardrails in my day

Every morning at 7am my iPad generates a note that includes all actions for the day in my task manager, all reminders from shared lists (f.e. shopping list), all my appointments for the day and the weather report

I find having the one note gives me a focus for the day, and prevents me from opening f.e. OmniFocus to tinker with my day and get lost in re-shaping the GTD landscape.

I open the note at around 8 am and read through it while I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee.
The note stays open all day and as I finish tasks I tick them off in the note and I take extensive notes on ideas and tasks/appointments

Every evening I process the note, check off all completed items in their respective apps and process new tasks/appointments which gives me a nice closure “ceremony” for the day.

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I create some backlinked notes as part of my prep, but if I get an ad-hoc meeting or have a deep discussion / provide advice during the day I’ll move them into a specific note.

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I can tag notes if I wish, but I tend to link more than tag.

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Thanks for this thread - it ties in with a question that I’ve been trying to sort out recently: what’s the difference between a Daily Note and a Journal?

A journal, like what I used Day One for, is personal feelings, remembering a fun day I had, etc. The daily note is more of for something like I called the doctors office and making a note about it. Or recording info on something I bought. Maybe links to notes to things I worked on that day.

A daily note in the style of a journal entry at the end of the day didn’t work for me, so I’ve switched to a method called “interstitial journaling”, and I’ve been able to stick with it for 9 days consistently so far.

My daily note starts out with a list of goals I want to get done today, not necessarily everything on my todo list for the day. Just big ticket items or things that would make a huge difference in my mood if I got them knocked out today.

Then the rest of the note is a bullet-point list, with each list item starting with the current time, and then I write about whatever I’m feeling, what I’m working on right now or think I should be working on, random thoughts, references to other notes, etc. It’s helped me stay on task and resume where I’ve left off when I become distracted. And at the end of the day when I feel like I haven’t gotten much done, it helps squash that feeling by reading through the day’s events and helping me realize, actually, I did a lot.

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My use is similar to @geoffaire. I do create back-linked notes for specific meetings held on that day as well as any other notes I create on that day, which are usually also back-linked to their project. For me as a project manager by trade, this method is working well. I’ve been doing this in Obsidian (indexed to DEVONThink) for the past year+.

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I use Obsidian to write my daily note.

Standard content would

  • weather
  • what I plan to work
  • how I interact with my family
  • what articles / books I read
  • daily news (eg. I use Chrome markdown browser extension to convert The World in brief from The Economist from a browser page to a markdown file. Then I use Hazel to import that into my Obsidian vault. If I keep doing this for years, I shall have my own archive of history
  • what progress I plan or have made for bigger goals (this is in addition to daily task)

when I have a chance I would conclude the daily note with a wrap up, including

  • my mood of the day
  • special issue I need to note
  • what achievement I made

I found that I often have to look back what I did or met with whom on which day. These are more trivial things but the daily note forces me to capture something that is not run of the mill issue and sometimes I forget until I have the habit of writing them down

Some rambling thoughts:

In this context, for me: individual tasks are bricks; the “daily note” is a wall.

Or: my daily note allows me to log completed tasks in the context of other thoughts and events. I suppose it provides a historical record that might be of some use in the future; related notes do get picked up by future queries according to project titles and keywords. But just as important, the daily note helps me to “maintain state” as I work during the day. It gives me a single trusted space to return to after interruption, or if I’ve cultivated such deep focus that I’ve lost sense of whatever it is that comes next.

Another way to consider it: daily note = running task log + related notes + self-reflection…

I might work on a number of different projects in the course of a day— capturing things in a single daily note helps reduce the sense of fragmentation in moving between different projects/contexts/ideas. I drop a keyword, tag or project reference in the note and I can be reasonably confident that it’ll resurface when appropriate. This doesn’t mean that I only capture things in daily notes, but I’m more likely to start with something in my daily note and perhaps break out of the thought feels as if it needs to develop in its own space…

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Is this automatic or manually created? Would be interested in how you achieve this.

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every week-day morning at 8am a shortcut runs (shortcuts app, automations tab) and populates a Draft with all the information detailed above, and then opens it up in the Drafts app. It’s really very very simple.

I think I personalised a shortcut I found elsewhere, have linked my first English version:

https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/2e69bc43b041464f9d0ee85090c8a593

My current one is in Dutch but you can get the basic idea from the English version attached.
disclaimer: It’s not my idea to do it this way, think either @RosemaryOrchard or Federico Viticci said something about this on a podcast somewhere.

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I create a daily note for work for 2 reasons.

  1. Standup
    Each day at work we have a meeting where we talk about what we’re working on. This makes it easy for me to forget about work when I go home and then the next day I can check to see what I did or what I worked on. Since I’m a software engineer, I have a lot of tasks that I work on that I don’t accomplish in a single day. Also, I have a note for each ticket (created with a script that pulls information from Jira). Since I link to the ticket from the daily note, when I look at the ticket’s backlinks, I have a list of dates that I worked on it.

  2. Accomplishments
    Sometimes I feel like I haven’t contributed much at work, so my work log is intended to help with that. I not only write down what I accomplished, but also the nice things that people said or anything that happened that was encouraging. Then I compile the best ones into a weekly notes. I do the same thing with monthly, quarterly, and yearly. That way I don’t have to look through hundreds of daily notes with all the minutia to find my major accomplishments. This is the theory at least. I’ve done it for 4 months so far.

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