Dear diary...

I am a man of routines. I wake up at pretty much the same time every day, I start with PR reviews while drinking coffee, I check my email, I attend our daily standup on Zoom, I go to the gym and then I have my uninterrupted coding hours. Sometimes my days are a little bit off - I woke up a little later or I have to do this special thing that brings chaos to my schedule, but the routines are still there - just pushed around. I do this because the day is more familiar. I follow my routines because I know “what’s next”. That makes the work much easier and more enjoyable. One of my daily practices I’d like to talk in this post is maintaining a journal or a diary. Not the kind filled with hefty descriptions of tacos I ate today or how much I love dogs and how cute that husky my neighbors got is. I’m talking about a Developer’s Journal.

The Developer’s Journal

I’ve heard about this idea a couple of years ago and I loved it. You take any journaling app or a notebook and you write down a summary of your (professional) day, every day. Here’s how an entry looks these days for me:

# Work:
Today I've set up AWS SES bulk-email sending using (#Clojure + #Amazonica)
for email notifications & plugged in AWS Secrets Manager to the backend app
# Meetings
- Dogfood release online celebration 🎉
# Learned
- Read "Enums and Pattern Matching" chapter of Rust-lang book

Just a few simple sections summarizing the day. It’s important to keep them short. When I started, my entries were way too long and I didn’t stick to it. Here’s why I do it:

  • I work from home, and wrapping up the “Work” section usually means the end of the working day for me. This 1-minute routine is a great way to get some closure every day
  • Every time my coworker goes back from a vacation I wrap up a short summary of what happened while they were gone
  • I know answers to a lot of questions! When did someone join the company? I know! When did we switch to Elastic Beanstalk from Lambda? I know! When did we disable that useful service? I know! These questions come up a lot
  • Job hunt doesn’t happen so often, but when it does, your diary is pure gold! Preparing a list of skills and stories for an interview when you have your whole memory dumped into a searchable database is amazingly helpful
  • I sometimes suffer from imposter’s syndrome. Looking a year or two back into my journal is an excellent confidence boost! Look at this dumb-dumb learning these basic things

There’s something else about summarizing your day like that. You get a sense of accomplishment and wondrous clarity of mind. I highly recommend you give it a shot. When you do, remember to start small and stick to it at least for a while!