Getting Started with a Code Journal (4 Part Series)
In this final post of my series on Code Journalling, I am giving you some further tips on creating and using your Code Journal to its full potential. If you have any more tips please include them in the comments at the bottom.
If you try to make it perfect you will never get anything written down, or at least not as much as you could. A bit of planning is a good idea, but don't put off starting!
Getting something down on paper, then refining it, is agile practice in your own work. A Code Journal will not work well using the Waterfall method, so make your own journaling practise agile.
Always write the page number and content into your index, so your amazing ideas are never lost.
Your index will be your main reference to find something specific or to get an idea of what you have recorded in your Code Journal. Make sure that all pages are numbered and written in the index for future reference.
Schedule reviews into your calendar or diary, e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, and stick to them. It is up to you what you review, make it work for you and change it if you need to.
These are just a few ideas for what you could review. Tailor it to your own needs.
- Are you on target?
- What have you done to work towards your goal?
- What is the next step to work towards this goal?
- When are you going to do it by?
- How are they progressing?
- Which one should you be working on now?
- Is there another project you want to start?
- Are these up to date?
- Have you analysed why something went right or wrong?
- What have you done since your last review?
- Are you on target?
- What is your next step?
- Use this template to do an analysis for the whole review period and record everything under these headings.
- Review your last recorded Start Doing | Keep Doing | Stop Doing record.
Journal regularly, at least a few times per week. Preferably write something each day, even if just a few words. Making journaling a regular thing will make you much less likely to forget.
Slipping out of the habit of journaling will set you back in your goals and waste your time when you are trying to remember things. Try to plan your journaling into your schedule, but also do it on an ad hoc basis when needed to get stuff out of your head.
That's why you have an index. It doesn't matter if you end up with notes on a project in three different parts of your journal, it is all in the index.
This can be a hard habit to crack, especially for any perfectionists among us (myself included!), but the index is your friend and you won't end up with unused pages in random places, or not having enough space in what you left anyway!
Keep It Simple Stupid. You don't want to create an unwieldy monster, so stick to the simplest solutions. Don't create something that you don't want to keep up to date. This shouldn't stop you from experimenting though!
But don't compare. Some people publish photos of their beautiful copper-plate handwriting and colourful art in their journals. This is not what your Code Journal should be (unless that is really you).
You want the ideas, but you are not some Instagram Influencer that needs to keep up with those who are. Your journal is for your own eyes only and needs to work for you and you alone.
Then stick with it to give what you are doing a chance. Analyse, make small changes or pivot completely. Don't be afraid to try new things or reinstate something you tried before that worked better.
This is another idea along the lines of making your own journaling methods agile.
The content of your Code Journal will be unique to you, but so will the aesthetics. Where one developer likes black and white, another will have a rainbow of colours on every page.
It's completely up to you if you want to jazz things up a little. Colour may help you to find the information you want, or inspire you, or it may be a distraction.
Make your Code Journal work for you.
Ideas from Getting Things Done and The One Thing may be useful to you. These are two different systems for personal organisation and productivity. I recommend reading up on both of these. There are plenty of free resources, or the two books are not expensive.
If you want to take your journal further and use it as an organiser as well (or maybe you want a separate organiser) then you need to look into Bullet Journalling.
Learn the basics at bulletjournal.com and then look through the myriad of blogs, Instagram posts, Pinterest boards and Youtube videos for more inspiration, how-tos and tips.
Here are a few blogs to get you started:
Enjoy your new Code Journal and remember it is a tool that you can modify and experiment with to meet your own needs.
If you have started a Code Journal, or have anything to add that isn't in this series, please leave a comment below or contact me directly, I am always interested in feedback.
Originally published at http://www.jacqui.tk/blog on September 30, 2019.