Saturday, October 12, 2013

How to Keep a Journal in ConnectedText

I have recently been asked several times how I use ConnectedText. The answer is that I use it in many ways. Usually, I have at least five projects open. (Perhaps better: I always have at least five projects open.) They are respectively called: Journal, Notes, Personal, Planner, and Writing. They represent different focal points of my life, but they are also interconnected.

The journal is perhaps the simplest project. I use it to keep a log to document (for myself) how I spent my day and as a jumping off point for other projects.

It consists almost exclusively of date topics, i.e. topics that look like this in the editor: "[[20131010]]" and like this as topic names: "10/11/2013". You might think that "20131010" is too obscure, but it really isn't. It's just a concatenation of year, month, day and you get used to it very quickly. Using this format makes it easy to address any topic in your journal very easy.

Every topic starts with the day, written in bold, like so: **Saturday, October 12, 2013**. Underneath is a simple log, like so:
07:00 got up, breakfast
07:30 prepare Philosophy 245
10:30 blog entry [[Notes:How to Keep a Journal in ConnectedText]]
10:30 go to the office
11:00 Philosophy 310
((Philosophy 310, Fall 2013==(($TOPICDATE))))
12:20 break
12:30 Philosophy 245
((Philosophy 245, Fall 2013==(($TOPICDATE))))
13:50 break
14:00 office hours
15:00 write [[Writing:Hume Introduction]]
16:30 go home
I should point out that the log entries are preceded by a space (and thus constitute separate lines without a carriage return). You will also note that there are links to topics in other projects that allow you to go to the precise topic you are (or were) working on. Thus, you have not just a record of when you did what, but can easily navigate to what you were working on.

Expressions like "((Philosophy 245, Fall 2013==(($TOPICDATE))))" include a line from the course outline for the particular day. They tell me what we are actually reading or discussing for that particular day. Thus it shows up like this in view mode: " * Leibniz, Discourse on Method, pp. 224-234 [Edit]". (I should point out that a line with this expression cannot have a space as the first character.) The relevant lines in the topic that is included look like this:
* Leibniz, Discourse on Method, pp. 234-247
Monday schedule
It is possible to have many such topics which automate routine tasks in your journal.

This is really it. It's simple, yet it is effective. In fact, it follows the approach of "Do the simplest thing that will do the work." There are no categories, properties, attributes, or any other complications in this project. There could be, but you do not necessarily need them. Sould I want them at some point, I could always introduce them. (I should perhaps add that I have a number Breevy abbreviations that all me to enter the date, etc., but this is not really part of this topic.) Negotiating to different days in the journal is easy, if you have not disabled "show the calendar in view mode" in options.

So, if you want to keep a journal, ConnectedText will allow you to do it in style. And if you don't know how to use ConnectedText, you might want to keep a journal or day book in this way.[1]

This is what the entry would look like in view mod:

1. Does my journal contain other observations, thoughts, reflections? Of course, it does. But I will not share this. The same goes for for properties, etc.


Bart said...

Interesting examples. Also thanks for the ones you provided earlier[1]. I'll try to explain what I meant with my concern that 'ideas don't seem to fit in'. I read an ebook that propagates the gathering (no mater what medium) and later collecting (in one system) of 'ideas'. Now I realize that this is a very idealistic view on what an idea is, namely something clear and concise that you can put down directly, which I found is not the case most of the time, especially not for all philosophical matters[2]. Instead, you of course have to make an effort to transcribe your thought processes, which seems to be much harder for me to do with a keyboard.

Two notes: Instead of typing the date manually (or using Breezy) you can also add **[[(($CURRENTTOPIC))|(($TOPICDATE|LONG))]]** or **(($TOPICDATE|LONG))** to your template instead. To those who have the calendar disabled (this should really become a project specific property): under the View menu you can enable a calendar pane.

[1] Funny to see that you also use two languages in your entries (although I use Dutch besides English).

[2] Also, when you try to be aware of your ideas, you find a lot of them are what I call 'fantastic fantastic ideas', ideas that seem fantastic (great) but are in reality fantastic (unreal).

MK said...

Whether an idea is really fantastic is often not apparent for a long time. It often depends on the relation of the idea to other ideas.

Making ideas clear, concise, and consistent is part of the work a note-taker has to do. You usually don't "find" that.

Also, I would not advise to just "gather" ideas, but to gather them with a purpose. They need to be part of a "project", however broadly conceived.

I prefer hard dates in journal entries because (($TOPICDATE|LONG)) in edit mode does not allow me to see immediately what day I am working on. To send
**%A, %B %d, %Y**
%H:%M %|
Is just as convenient, in any case.

JC said...

Thank you for your blog. It has really assisted me in learning ConnectedText. Regarding this entry, do you create one project per class? Or, do you have one project in which you house all your classes. This is more a best practices question than a how to question. Thank you.

MK said...

I have one project for all my classes.