Daily Logging: How and Why I Track My Habits and Goals—and how you can too!

A real-life example of my daily log from March 2023, in Obsidian

Introduction: What is a daily log? Why keep one?

Since December of the year 2016, I have been keeping a private ongoing list of notes of my daily activities, thoughts, and progress. I realized how much I can forget what I have done and move on to the next task, without taking the time to appreciate what I have accomplished.

In my first log, I can see that it was the month I took an improv class about a type of comedy show I still do to this day (called the “Harold”). I also have notes about how I worked on blogging for this site and met a lot of friends around then

This daily log isn’t a planning tool or a to-do list. It’s not a list of tasks you need to complete. What I’m talking about is keeping track of tasks you’ve already completed. Think of this idea as a form of an ongoing “Tada List,” a term coined on the podcast Happier by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. Tada is the sound of “fanfare to call attention to something remarkable”. At the same time, my log functions as a type of gratitude list.

This creates a way to practice acknowledging every step I’ve accomplished, rather than focusing solely on what I haven’t done yet. By taking a few moments each day to reflect on what you’ve finished, you might just start cultivating a greater sense of satisfaction.

How to start your own daily log:

  • In a journal or in a text document, start with a simple list ongoing of accomplishments for each day.
  • You can track anything you want; such as where you went; who you saw; what you accomplished; and what you did to keep entertained and relaxed.
  • Schedule a weekly reminder on your calendar to review and catch up on any missed details
  • Don’t worry about getting every detail “right” or missing a day or two – you can always fill in the missing information later on or miss days entirely. The point of a daily log is to help you reflect and learn, not to keep perfect records.
  • Try to find a few minutes each day to reflect on your day and record your entries in your daily log.
  • You might also keep your notebook or document available when possible as you work or do various hobbies to record in real-time.
  • The log and your use around it can evolve each day, allowing you to track different life patterns and habits.
  • Each month, start with a fresh page in your journal or with a new digital document.

How I structure my daily log

For each month I start a simple text document where I list the day and the day of the week (i.e., “1 Tuesday”), and then below I write out what I did that day as bullets below that.

I also use this document to track other things that feel important to me: my mood, my most important tasks of each day, and who I’ve connected with that day.

One reason that I separate them monthly notes, is that this makes each month a fresh slate. I can reflect on the previous month and I get a blank slate to reset. It feels too separated for me to individual notes of each day or week rather than in groups by month.

Monthly notes containing my daily logs also help me model my later entries off of early ones. I can quickly see my own examples of how I tracked the 1st of the month, and that prompts me to add an update on the later entries.

At the beginning of the next month, I just have to set up a new document and I get the satisfaction of a blank slate.

What to track

For my own logs, I combine different areas of focus and track a wide range of activities, helping it serve as my one-sentence journal, a fitness, food diary, and more. You can customize your log to fit your individual needs and preferences, and allow the lists to evolve and flex with each day.

In addition to recording your daily activities, you can also include prompts for self-reflection and goal-setting. For example, you can track your mood, list what you’re grateful for, and imagine a successful future.

Where to keep your lists

When deciding whether to keep a physical notebook or use a digital app to log your life, it’s important to consider how easily you can access your log.

If you opt for a physical notebook, make sure it’s small enough to carry with you wherever you go, and that you have a pen or pencil readily available to jot down notes.

Alternatively, if you choose a digital app, ensure that it’s easy to access on your phone, tablet, or computer and that it syncs across devices to avoid any potential loss of data.

In the past, I used Google Drive and Google Docs to keep my daily log and that worked well. However, I have recently switched to Obsidian.md, a similar text-based note-taking app that allows me to organize my notes and ideas.

By making your daily log convenient to use, you’ll be more likely to stick with it and reap the benefits of keeping a record of your experiences and reflections.

Plan to “fail” and catch up later

Starting a daily log can feel intimidating, but my philosophy is to stay flexible and forgiving. It’s okay to miss a day or two, or even several weeks.

In fact, missing a few days can be a fun exercise to try to fill in the gaps later on, and the catch-up process can encourage you to keep logging more often. You’ll be surprised at how much you forget when you don’t keep up with it!

When filling in gaps in your daily log:

  • Try to recall as much as you can about the missing day or days. Think about where you were, who you were with, and what you did.
  • Don’t worry too much about getting every detail right. The point of a daily log is to help you reflect and learn, not to create a perfect record of your life.
  • If you’re having trouble remembering what happened, try looking at your calendar, social media accounts, or other sources of information to jog your memory.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you remember and what you don’t. If you can’t recall certain details, that’s okay. Just record what you do remember and move on.
  • Don’t let the fear of missing a day or two prevent you from starting or continuing your daily log.

Reasons to keep a daily log

As someone who follows ideas borrowed from the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity method, my daily log stays part of my weekly review process. This helps me to stay on top of my commitments and feel confident that I’m making progress toward my goals.

I can double-check that I’ve captured all of my next action tasks and then update my plans. Even if you’re not familiar with this weekly review process, you can use a daily log as a simple way to start noticing your progress toward your goals.

A few reasons why you might consider starting your own daily log:

  • Daily logging can be a fun and nostalgic activity, allowing you to easily look back on your memories and appreciate the moments that have shaped your life.
  • This creates a concrete way to celebrate your accomplishments and motivate you to keep going.
  • By keeping a record of your daily life, you can also gain a deeper appreciation for the small moments and experiences that may have gone unnoticed otherwise.
  • You can practice and notice your goal progress and the status of your desired habits.
  • This serves as a tool to improve your memory and help you remember and savor important events and details.
  • Writing down your behavior over time helps you discover patterns – such as when you tend to be most productive or when and why you experience the most stress.
  • This gives you a chance to practice self-reflection and self-awareness, which can aid in personal growth and development as you know yourself better.
  • It’s a great way to experiment with different tracking methods and take on new focuses by noticing what’s worked for you before
  • Finally, keeping a daily log can be fun!

Here’s an example to illustrate how these reasons can surface: one day I might feel disconnected. But then I can see on my log that I’ve had a lot of social events recently. I might notice that I was really into yoga for a week and then forgot all about the new habit.

It can also be a place where I can relive the joy of a big work accomplishment. With these documents I can quickly search for information about what I have done, who I was with, and when I last saw a friend. This helps me appreciate my experiences and identify patterns in my behavior.

Easy Mode: Incorporate Reminder Prompts

Over time, you may develop a list of prompts and reminders of what you want to log. Your reminders might note that you want to track your mood, what you’re grateful for, activities and hobbies, reflections for each day, and any progress on your goals.

This is a reminder list or a trigger list (in Obisidian) that I use to remember what I want to make note of.

Having a list of reminder prompts can reduce friction and the brain power needed to get in and out of your note.

If you’d like, feel free to borrow from my sample list from which I only pick one or two of these each day:

  1. List what you’ve done every day. It is essential to keep track of what you have accomplished each day, no matter how small or big.
  2. Focus on the good sides of any situation. Even in difficult or challenging situations, there are always positive things to focus on. I write down what I am grateful for and what I can change about my attitude or approach to avoid stressing myself out.
  3. Write down three good moments that happened each day. I also like to write down three good things that happened each day and reflect on why they happened.
  4. Identify your most important task of the day. This is the one thing that, if you accomplish it, will make your day a success.
  5. Track your activities. I like to plan out my day and write down what I need to accomplish. For me, this includes hobbies like practicing the piano or singing and chores like cleaning my apartment for one minute. I also sometimes track my meals, when and how I exercise, and what’s rewarding at work and home.
  6. List your stresses and negative thoughts. Acknowledge and validate your negative emotions and thoughts. By writing them down, you can identify patterns and work on reframing them in helpful and realistic terms.
  7. Keep a log of your moods. I track my mood each day and use this information to identify patterns and triggers. I also remind myself of positive affirmations, such as “positives matter,” “stay present,” “clear communication” and “gather input.”
  8. Maintain relationships. I also make a note of my interactions with friends, family, and relationships. This helps me stay connected and identify areas where I need to improve my communication and plan social events.

Tracking Your Areas of Focus

In addition or instead, you can create more specific and entirely separate, focused daily logs. These logs can be tailored to different areas that occur regularly and that you want to record more attention and specifics.

As a creative professional, maintaining a daily log can be a useful tool for staying motivated in your career. For example, if you’re a writer, you can log your daily word count, note your progress on individual projects, and record any creative breakthroughs you have throughout the day.

If you’re a visual artist, you can log the time you spend on specific pieces, document your creative process through sketches or photographs, and reflect on the decisions you made during each stage of a project.

Photographers can log the locations they visited and the time of day they captured their best shots. Musicians can log their practice time, progress on learning new pieces, and any new musical ideas they have throughout the day.

When I’m practicing piano every day, a dedicated piano practice log with its own prompts and ideas can help me see my progress. My reminder list includes theory, sight-reading new music, recording practices more often, and a reminder to play for fun. This helps me notice areas where I’m struggling and make adjustments to my practice plan. Sometimes I’m practicing fun things or too focused on the technical parts, when what I really want is a good balance. Now I know what questions to ask of other musicians or if I need a book, class, or even need to aid of private lessons.

The last step: Try daily logging for yourself

By keeping a record of your daily life, habits, and goals, you can gain insights into your strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas that you can work to change.

And perhaps most importantly, daily logging can help you cultivate a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the present moment, as you become more aware of the gifts and opportunities that surround you each day.

So why not give it a try? Start small and stay flexible, and see where the process takes you. You might be surprised by what you learn about yourself and your creative process. Daily logging is about celebrating your accomplishments.

Embrace the journey and appreciate all that you’ve done.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

55 Comments

  1. Hello, I truly like your post. Could we keep in touch regarding your AOL posts? To fix a difficulty I’m having, I need to speak with an expert in this subject. You might be that person after all. It will be a pleasure to talk to you.

  2. At 2 Love Tale, every article is a scene, every opinion is a script, and every reader is the star. So, if you’re seeking stories that resonate, music that moves, and films that fascinate, your spotlight is here. Curtain up – your seat is reserved!

  3. Australian slots have become an emblematic element of the nation’s entertainment landscape, integrated deeply
    into the heart of local culture. These slot machines are not merely gambling devices; they are a social center, providing a scene for community involvement in taverns and clubs across the
    country. The range of games available accommodates to a wide array
    of tastes, from nostalgic fruit machine classics
    to modern video slots featuring elaborate themes and storylines.
    This range ensures that everyone, from casual players to seasoned gamblers, finds something to enjoy.
    Moreover, the evolution of pokies has paralleled technological progress, incorporating captivating graphics, entrancing soundtracks, and interactive bonus features that amplify
    the gaming experience.

    Despite their prevalence, Australian pokies are also at the heart of ongoing debates regarding gambling control and the social consequences of widespread access to these machines.
    Critics contend that pokies contribute to gambling dependence and economic distress
    for some people, calling for calls for tighter controls and responsible gaming initiatives.
    On the other hand, supporters highlight the substantial revenue generated for local economies and community projects through duties and licensing fees.

    This divergence reflects the complex relationship Australians have
    with pokies, balancing the thrill of the game against the need for responsible use.
    As the conversation continues, the future of pokies in Australia will likely involve a careful consideration of both the cultural significance
    and the prospective risks associated with these beloved
    machines.

    Feel free to surf to my website – australian Pokies no deposit Bonus

  4. Hello Neat post Theres an issue together with your site in internet explorer would check this IE still is the marketplace chief and a large element of other folks will leave out your magnificent writing due to this problem

  5. It seems like you’re repeating a set of comments that you might have come across on various websites or social media platforms. These comments typically include praise for the content, requests for improvement, and expressions of gratitude. Is there anything specific you’d like to discuss or inquire about regarding these comments? Feel free to let me know how I can assist you further!

  6. Thank you for reaching out! If you have any specific questions or topics in mind, please feel free to share them, and I’ll do my best to assist you. Whether you’re curious about a particular technology, scientific concept, literary work, or anything else, I’m here to provide information, advice, or engage in a discussion. Don’t hesitate to let me know how I can help you further!

  7. Thanks I have recently been looking for info about this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far However what in regards to the bottom line Are you certain in regards to the supply

  8. Hi i think that i saw you visited my web site thus i came to Return the favore I am attempting to find things to improve my web siteI suppose its ok to use some of your ideas

  9. “Hello there! I recently noticed that you’ve taken the time to visit my website, and I wanted to express my gratitude by returning the favor. As I’m constantly seeking ways to improve my site, I believe it would be beneficial to incorporate some of your ideas into my design and content strategy. Your input would be greatly appreciated, and I’m open to any suggestions you may have. Thank you for your interest, and I look forward to hearing from you!”

  10. I have been browsing online more than three hours today yet I never found any interesting article like yours It is pretty worth enough for me In my view if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  11. What i do not realize is in fact how you are no longer actually much more wellfavored than you might be right now Youre very intelligent You recognize thus considerably in relation to this topic made me in my view believe it from numerous numerous angles Its like men and women are not fascinated until it is one thing to do with Lady gaga Your own stuffs excellent All the time handle it up.

  12. “Hello there! I recently noticed that you’ve taken the time to visit my website, and I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for your interest. Your support means a lot to me. In return, I would like to extend my support by visiting your website as well.

  13. “Hello there! I recently noticed that you’ve taken the time to visit my website, and I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for your interest. Your support means a lot to me. In return, I would like to extend my support by visiting your website as well.

  14. “Hello there! I recently noticed that you’ve taken the time to visit my website, and I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for your interest. Your support means a lot to me. In return, I would like to extend my support by visiting your website as well.

  15. I truly admired the work you’ve put in here. The design is refined, your authored material stylish, however, you seem to have acquired some trepidation about what you intend to present next. Undoubtedly, I’ll revisit more regularly, similar to I have nearly all the time, in the event you sustain this rise.

  16. I recently noticed that you’ve taken the time to visit my website, and I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for your interest. Your support means a lot to me, and I’m truly grateful for your visit.

  17. You’re welcome! Thank you for your understanding. If you have any specific questions, topics, or areas of interest you’d like to explore, feel free to share them. Whether it’s about technology trends, scientific discoveries, literary analysis, or any other subject, I’m here to provide information and assistance. Just let me know how I can assist you further, and I’ll be happy to help!

  18. You’re welcome! Thank you for your understanding. If you have any specific questions, topics, or areas of interest you’d like to explore, feel free to share them. Whether it’s about technology trends, scientific discoveries, literary analysis, or any other subject, I’m here to provide information and assistance. Just let me know how I can assist you further, and I’ll be happy to help!

  19. Thank you for your response! If you have any specific questions, topics, or areas of interest you’d like to discuss, feel free to share them. Whether it’s about technology, science, literature, or any other subject, I’m here to provide information and assistance. Just let me know how I can help you further, and I’ll do my best to assist you!

  20. I genuinely admired what you’ve accomplished here. The outline is elegant, your written content fashionable, however, you seem to have acquired some unease about what you wish to present going forward. Undoubtedly, I’ll revisit more often, similar to I have nearly all the time, in case you sustain this ascent.

  21. This website is an absolute gem! The content is incredibly well-researched, engaging, and valuable. I particularly enjoyed the [specific section] which provided unique insights I haven’t found elsewhere. Keep up the amazing work!

  22. Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it
    to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never
    wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell
    someone!

    My homepage: vpn coupon code 2024

  23. You’re welcome! I appreciate your willingness to engage further. If you have any specific questions or topics you’d like to delve into, feel free to share them. Whether it’s about recent developments in technology, intriguing scientific discoveries, captivating literature, or anything else on your mind, I’m here to provide insights and assistance. Simply let me know how I can help, and I’ll be happy to assist you further!

  24. You’re welcome! I appreciate your willingness to engage further. If you have any specific questions or topics you’d like to delve into, feel free to share them. Whether it’s about recent developments in technology, intriguing scientific discoveries, captivating literature, or anything else on your mind, I’m here to provide insights and assistance. Simply let me know how I can help, and I’ll be happy to assist you further!

  25. Thank you for your response! I’m grateful for your willingness to engage in discussions. If there’s anything specific you’d like to explore or if you have any questions, please feel free to share them. Whether it’s about emerging trends in technology, recent breakthroughs in science, intriguing literary analyses, or any other topic, I’m here to assist you. Just let me know how I can be of help, and I’ll do my best to provide valuable insights and information!

  26. Fantastic read! I was especially impressed by the depth provided on the topic, offering a perspective I hadn’t considered. Your insight adds significant value to the conversation. For future articles, it would be fascinating to explore more to dive deeper into this subject. Could you also clarify more about the topic? It caught my interest, and I’d love to understand more about it. Keep up the excellent work!

  27. I don’t know where you get your knowledge, but this is a really great problem. I ought to take some time to comprehend or discover more. I appreciate the wonderful information; it was exactly what I needed for my purpose.

  28. I do agree with all the ideas you have introduced on your post They are very convincing and will definitely work Still the posts are very short for newbies May just you please prolong them a little from subsequent time Thank you for the post

  29. I have just as much interest in your work as you have achieved. Your displayed sketch is beautiful and your published content is very good. Though, you may be worried that you will be doing something peculiar in the future. I agree that you will take care of this.

  30. I was captivated by your work just as much as you were. Your sketch is tasteful and your written material is stylish. However, you seem to be anxious that you will be delivering something questionable in the near future. I agree that you will likely resolve this issue soon and return to your usual high standards.

  31. My fascination with your work is equal to the enthusiasm you have expressed. The sketch you have presented is elegant, and the material you have authored is of a high caliber. Yet, it seems you are apprehensive that you may be embarking on something that could be seen as questionable. I believe you will be able to resolve this issue efficiently.

  32. The degree to which I admire your work is as substantial as your own sentiment. Your sketch is refined, and the material you have authored is of an exceptional standard. Nevertheless, you appear to be anxious that you may be on the verge of presenting something that could be considered questionable. I believe you will be able to rectify this situation promptly.

  33. Thank you I have just been searching for information approximately this topic for a while and yours is the best I have found out so far However what in regards to the bottom line Are you certain concerning the supply

  34. The amazing speed at which the website loads—it almost looks as though you are pulling off some special trick—and the superb job that you have done with the contents truly demonstrate your talent as a webmaster.

  35. “As someone new to this subject, I found this article incredibly helpful. The author’s expertise shines through, and the content is presented in a way that is engaging and easy to follow. I’ll be bookmarking this site for future reference!”

  36. This article was incredibly insightful! I was captivated by the thoroughness of the information and the clear, engaging way it was delivered. The depth of research and expertise evident in this post is remarkable, significantly elevating the content’s quality. The insights in the opening and concluding sections were particularly compelling, sparking some ideas and questions I hope you will explore in future articles. If there are any additional resources for further exploration on this topic, I would love to delve into them. Thank you for sharing your expertise and enriching our understanding of this subject. I felt compelled to comment immediately after reading due to the exceptional quality of this piece. Keep up the fantastic work—I’ll definitely be returning for more updates. Your dedication to crafting such an excellent article is highly appreciated!

  37. Your piece was tremendously insightful! The comprehensiveness of the material and the engaging presentation captivated me. The extent of research and expertise apparent throughout substantially elevates the content’s caliber. The revelations in the opening and closing sections were particularly compelling, igniting novel ideas and queries that I hope you’ll investigate in future works. If there are supplementary resources for further exploration on this subject, I’d be delighted to immerse myself in them. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and enriching our grasp of this topic. The exceptional quality of this work prompted me to comment right after reading. Maintain the fantastic efforts—I’ll definitely revisit for more updates. Your commitment to crafting such an excellent article is greatly appreciated!

  38. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here The sketch is tasteful your authored subject matter stylish nonetheless you command get got an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike

  39. Fantastic beat I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site how could i subscribe for a blog site The account helped me a acceptable deal I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear concept

  40. you are in reality a just right webmaster. The site loading velocity is incredible. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. In addition, The contents are masterwork. you have performed a wonderful task on this topic!

    Mentions

  • 💬 How do you start an art project?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *