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Monday, October 24, 2005

Journal Things

I've read in a few places about time-sense acceleration recently. Many years ago, when I was in middle school, life was really a drag. Time went by very slowly. I counted the days 'till Christmas and kept my eye on the clock, and an hour seemed like a long time. That is certainly no longer the case.

Throughout high school, time sped up. Days became shorter, then weeks, and eventually almost months. Last year (freshman in college), I had a lot of problems with remembering the order things were happening in. I couldn't remember if I saw that movie on Tuesday (before we went out for sushi) or on Friday. When had I read about that? A week ago? A month? It got very blurry.

This year is not as bad; mostly because I don't have as much of a personal life. I've spent many more nights this year alone in my dorm doing homework, so it's been a little easier to keep everything straight. Still, I tend to go all-out on the weekends and cram in as much social time as I can, so I thought I should start a journal.

Livejournals or personal diary blogs are pretty good for this, but when I tried it last year I found it too much trouble to outline everyone I did things with, and spend time talking about all the events I was hitting. It wasn't rewarding enough for me to justify investing and extra half-hour to an hour before bed working on journaling my own life. Especially when I'm stumbling into the room at 5:00am after getting four hour's sleep the previous night. I think that's still true this year; it just takes too much effort to write a full-out journal about these things.

Enter TracksLife, a system designed to help you keep a daily log of things. Daily expenses, weight loss, whatever you want to keep track of. I was initially going to use it to keep track of my daily caloric intake and exercise (something which helped me get a little more fit over the summer). But, I found that to be exceedingly difficult, especially when my university doesn't see the need to get me the calorie information for the food I buy from them. So instead, I'm trying to make it as easy as possible to use: instead of asking for anything specific, I have two questions to answer at the end of each day.
  1. Did your diet go well?
  2. What was the main event?

The diet question is an exceedingly simple yes/no combo box, and the other one is a 255-character max answer field. It occurred to me that for my log to be most effective, all I need is an average of which days I dieted well on; if I had ice cream, or anything outside my markedly smaller-than-normal meals, that disqualifies me. It's easy to say "yes" or "no." With the main event question, all I need to put is a bullet point for each of the things I did during the day. "Serenity with James." "DDR with George." "Zombies with Kyle." It's quick, to-the-point, and helps me remember just what happened when. I could have chosen a paragraph-style answer and outlined my whole day, but I realize now that I need it to be quicker than that.

Trackslife allows you to make your entries public. You can link to them from your blog. I'm not going to, because this is for my private use only, but if you wanted to use it to keep your blog topical and your diary seperate, that would be a good way to handle it. Also, the last thing I made sure of, Trackslife allows you to export your entries in XML format. So if you ever decide to quit, they make it easy to do.

That's my solution, but virtually anything will work for this method. A quick wiki stub would make it easy to enter during the day. A database or spreadsheet would do. Even a plain text or rtf file would handle the job well. But I highly reccomend some kind of journaling procedure, if you're looking for a way to keep your life in line.

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Anonymous Ryan said...

Yes, time seems to fly by rapidly as each year passes. When I was a kid, I remember the days being much longer then they seem to be now. For example a rainy day seemed to contain the same amount of time as a week does for me now.

I guess it has to do with always being busy or always having something to do. Goodness.


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