Keeping a logbook

Published on October 03, 2020 • 4 minutes to read

I love journaling, mainly because it makes me rethink what I have done during my day and understand all the important things I have accomplished or couldn’t finish, and most importantly how that made me feel.

Now, to be effective with your Journal, you need to do various processes that you might not want to or have the time to do so and that’s when it all starts crumbling into less effective journal entries.

There has to be a better way of keeping the benefits of the journal but not having to do all the ceremonies? (Kinda a throwback to those discussions between doing SCRUM or Kanban hah), well, for me there is a way.

Welcome to the world of keeping a logbook, first, what the heck is a logbook? Well… Imagine a calendar of your past events, and it covers the small details of your daily life, like who, what, and where type of details.

What the global knowledge of Wikipedia says about a “Logbook”:

A logbook (a ship’s logs or simply log) is a record of important events in the management, operation, and navigation of a ship. It is essential to traditional navigation, and must be filled in at least daily.

And what the etymology of the word Log means:

“Record of observations, readings, etc.,” originally “record of a ship’s progress,” 1842, sailor’s shortening of log-book (1670s), the daily record of a ship’s speed, progress, etc.

What I love the most about these definitions is that you can get the sense that the Logbook measures the distance the ship traveled and all the things encountered in the ship’s journey. I love that metaphor. Because in life you have a defined set or maybe just one goal but you don’t know how much will you do, what people will be involved and what new friendships you’ll make along the way.

So how do I differ my logbook from a ship’s log? I divide my day in “who I met?”, “what I did?” and “where I went?”. My logbook is a simple list of facts, and because I write facts of the moment I don’t give myself the time to pre-judge what I will write on my logbook. Which has given me great insights into things I thought before were mundane and/or won’t become significant over time.

I can reference aspects of my daily life, such as the places I’ve visited and recall ideas and when I recall these I can do it in greater detail and with a greater degree of accuracy than what I can just remember. The most important aspect is the insights and understanding gains, and the way they influence future decisions.

Decisions, those decisions that define the distance I have traveled, and all the knowledge collected with accurate and honest feedback of the moment I made them. This feedback also helps me see when I was stupid and lucky as well as when I was smart and unlucky. With all this information I’m able to understand my circle of competence and that helps me avoid problems, identify opportunities for improvement, and learn from others.

So by limiting each day to one page and breaking it down into a list instead of prose of what I think it was important after the end of the day, I can easily scan through it later, and get a real feel for the passing of time as I flip the pages.

Future improvements to the logbook for me? I will start adding my feelings (sad, neutral, happy) and hopefully see if that’s a direct contributor to the who/what/where decisions I make.

I touched in this entry a concept called “circle of competence”, and I wanted to quickly talk about it, I will probably have more to say on this in a future entry.

So this concept has been used by Warren Buffett as a way to focus investors on only operating in areas they knew best. From his shareholder letter linked in this post, I can extract:

What an investor need is the ability to correctly evaluate selected businesses. Note that word “selected”: You don’t have to be an expert on every company, or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate companies within your circle of competence. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.

So I can define it as… Each of us, through experience or study, has built up useful knowledge on certain areas of the world. Some areas are understood by most of us, while some areas require a lot more specialty to evaluate, and knowing this helps you (hopefully) and I understand that we do not necessarily need to understand these more esoteric areas to invest capital or time. We just need to honestly define what we do know and stick to those areas and surround ourselves with experts on the ones we don’t know enough to make better decisions.