Do you remember what you did on November 22 last year? Two years from now? What projects did you work on? What people did you meet? What things did you care about, what thoughts were circling through your mind?
Isn’t it sad that most of our days disappear without a trace, and not a single person – even you – remember any details? This is a true fact for most of us. Unless something unusual happened on a specific day, the day gets lost in a sea of days, weeks, years…
There are ways to keep a daily log of your life. Some people write in diaries. Others take daily photos or videos. Although all of these methods are useful and effective, they all have limitations.
Writing in a diary is great, as long as you have the discipline to write every day and only focus on the events of that particular day. Usually we use diaries for longer reflections, and don’t want to limit ourselves to a specific time frame.
You could also take daily photos that capture the major milestones of your day. However, the photos themselves do not contain any information about the events, and you will have to write descriptions to be able to search for them. And quite frankly, not everything is a good candidate for a photo.
Ideally, you want to be able to mix and match logging methods in a way that suits you. On some days, you may want to write a long reflection of the day. On others, a couple of photos from an event will provide a perfect log of the day. But sometimes, a simple checklist will do the trick.
In fact, the checklist is probably the best solution for the majority of the days. Most of us don’t have time to write pages after pages in our diaries, or take photos every single day.
Your Todo List Is A Natural Outline Of Your Day
A todo list is the oldest and most widely used productivity tool on Earth. Most of us write lists of some sort on a regular basis. Shopping lists, quick scribbles on a piece of napkin, index cards, phone apps, full-blown productivity systems such as GTD – they all serve the same purpose – to document our planned activities for the day.
And guess what: this is exactly what we want to remember when we look back in time: our accomplishments, meetings, people that we engaged with on a particular day.
However, saving todo lists on a paper napkin can be a little impractical. Instead, you can boost your todo list with the power of Evernote.
Recommended Daily Log Routine
The only thing you need to get going is a free Evernote account. Create a new notebook in Evernote and call it “Daily Log”.
After that, simply follow this routine every day:
- Every morning, create a new note and give it a title of the current date. For example, “October 1, 2014”. You can also add the day of the week, for example: “Wednesday, October 1, 2014”.
- Create a todo list of tasks that you want to accomplish on that day. Use Evernote’s check box format for your todo list.
- At the end of the day, review your todo list and put a checkmark on the todos that have been done.
- Decide what you want to do with the todos that were not done. You can move them over to the next day, put them aside if you want to deal with them later, or toss them if they are no longer relevant. Don’t leave undone tasks in the note.
- Write a short log of things that happened on that day. What you worked on, meetings, people, thoughts, reading, etc.
How do I search for past events?
Now to the fun part. Say that you had lunch with a business acquaintance some time last year. You want to freshen up your memory on when you met that person, and what you were discussing. In Evernote, type the name of the person in the search field, and voila – you get instant results on all the notes that mention that person.
Evernote’s search functionality is amazing, it allows you to search for content in your notes’ titles and body, but there is more – it searches inside any attachments that you include in the note – PDF and Word documents, etc.
We want to capture our lives for one purpose only: so that we can instantly retrieve any moment of our life. Evernote is great at doing just that.
Log Photos and Voice Memos
Having text logs is practical and fast, but sometimes we want to spice it up with a photo. You can take a photo straight from the note itself, or paste a photo from your computer.
Here is an idea: every time you create a daily note, take a photo of yourself! You will end up with a log of daily selfies. Imagine being able to look 5-10 years back and see how you looked like back then.
How about making a voice memo, or capturing an interesting conversation? Just click the “microphone” icon and a voice memo will be recorded straight into your note.
The best part is that all your notes are instantly synchronized across all your devices. You can use your phone’s and tablet’s camera to snap the photo, or make a recording, and it will be available in your desktop app.
Stop For A Moment
I hope this article inspired you to start reflecting and logging the events, people and thoughts of every day of your life. We are in such a hurry to race towards the future, but do you realize that you are ultimately racing towards the end of your life? Slow down, stop the race for a moment, and take in your surrounding: objects, sounds, thoughts. And capture the most important ones in your daily log…