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The Journal Project

This is note 1 of 2 in The Journal Project, part of Tekka's series on Working With Tinderbox.

In the coming weeks, this column will explore a variety of ways to work with Tinderbox , Eastgate’s tool for making, analyzing, and sharing your notes. We’ll take a look at a series of projects, exploring a variety of rewarding tasks that show various aspects of Tinderbox in an interesting light.

This column builds on my book, The Tinderbox Way, emphasizing new Tinderbox features and a different mix of projects.

Specialized journals can be an invaluable business tool

To start the new column in the new year, we’ll look at journals and commonplace books — most generally, Tinderbox files that record things over a span of time. These range from personal diaries to research notebooks, from a naturalist’s field notes to a philosopher’s speculations. Specialized journals can be an invaluable business tool as well, and include not only the salesperson’s invaluable contact diary or the service organization’s complaint log, but also specific records of extraordinary events: project meeting diaries, say, or records of enterprise data outages or of emergency service issues with the company’s troublesome new filtration plant.

Knowing what you’ve done, and what you’re going to do, is a key. The first, necessary step, is to write it down: if you don’t record what happened, you won’t be able to analyze and learn from it later.

The second step, equally vital, is that you need to analyze and reflect. Simply making a record will help a little, because you’re bound to reflect on the experience as you record it. But you’ll also want to return and examine your record later. And that means you’ll want to explore, to select specifically interesting parts of the record and focus on especially significant facets.

You don’t know, as you start your journal, what sorts of analysis you’ll want to do in six weeks, or six years. You may suspect that some facets may be interesting, and so you’ll record those with care. You may speculate that some ways of organizing your journal will be productive and save you time later. Thinking ahead is always good.

don’t delay the real work

But it doesn’t matter if you get the initial organization wrong. This is the key to getting started with Tinderbox. Try something: you can always come back later and reorganize. Anticipate as well as you can what you’ll need, but don’t delay the real work by building complex systems. Don’t require yourself to fill out dozens of attributes you may not need; keep it simple (and pleasant), and add complexity as you discover that you need it.


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