Yearly Recaps: A Monthly, Contextual, Plain-Text Journaling System

While I regularly maintain a daily journal, and do so in plain text (while also keeping a concurrent journal in the Momento app on my iPhone for the search and tagging features), often I find that I never actually read any of the old entries. Which is fine, as I mostly just like the habit of recording the information. Recently, I developed a system that is proving to be immensely useful.

Yearly Recaps

Most often I’m trying to place my past in context. Did I start biking to the grocery store last summer or the year before? Was that trip to Utah really just last year? Those are the kinds of mental reminiscing tasks I’m often looking to resolve with journaling.

I started a new plain-text file called Yearly Recaps. The format is simple: I list the year, followed by each month, with bulleted lists for the big events that month:

 

2016

Aug:

– Kickstarter funding successful

– bad allergies

– Days Of The Dead artist table in Louisville

 

The entries are intended to be simple, and just cover the things I might was context for in a year. No thoughts, no daily task recording. Just the big chunks. Months are in standard order, years are listed with the most current year at the top.

The Key: Having It All Together, In One Place

This started out as simply an outline for me to gain some context over my past. I just wanted to see it all written out, in order, in one place. As soon as I started building the entries I realized how powerful this was for me, and that it was going to become a core tool in my journaling system.

I used to spend every Sunday evening doing a weekly recap, where I would review my daily entries and summarize them into a weekly recap. I used those to go back and populate the earlier months in my Yearly Recaps file.

The Weekly Recaps were intended to be the readable summaries, but these monthly summaries have proven to be far more useful. In a sense, the Yearly Recaps are just monthly recaps with typically one or two entries per week. But having them collated in one file for easy context is key.

The Structure

Currently I have just one file for all the yearly recaps, but I’m starting to think I may split them up into one text file per year, as it can be tough to navigate to the desired year. I could use the search functionality in my apps but I get lazy and just end up scrolling.

I’ve found this Yearly Recap system to be the most useful journal I’ve kept yet. I refer to it constantly, and really enjoy the mental Zen it brings having my jumbled memories of the past in a coherent order.

I still journal daily (mostly a mundane recording of the day’s events), but I use and refer back to the Yearly Recaps on a far more regular basis. It’s become an essential tool to keep my head together.

The System

And as far as the system I use: I’ve been gradually moving my note-taking, journaling and to-do lists to a plain-text system over the years. I’ve discussed some of my automated journaling techniques in previous posts. These days, I primarily rely on Dropbox, the Drafts app and the 1Writer app on iOS, and nvALT on the Mac.

Drafts is used for appending daily recaps to a plain-text file stored on Dropbox (with all sorts of automation going on with Hazel on the Mac). 1Writer is used for editing on iOS and nvALT for editing on the Mac. The files are all stored and synced via Dropbox.

The Yearly Recaps file is a manually-edited file so I do most of my editing of that in 1Writer.

I should probably do an entire post on my plain-text journaling system, I just realized I’ve only hinted at some of the advanced methods I use to organize things, but not the process of actually recording things. I’ve got it quite streamlined these days.

“Cryptid Command” Bigfoot/Nessie/UFO Embroidered Patch Set on Kickstarter

Cryptid Command Bigfoot Nessie UFO Aliens embroidered patches on Kickstarter

Cryptid Command“, my latest embroidered patch set is now live on Kickstarter until October 31, 2015. The patches feature Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and Aliens/UFOs all with a fun military-themed look.

The main funding goal was reached in under 6 hours on launch day, and the campaign has since unlocked the first of many stretch goals, which include additional patches, stickers, magnets, PVC emblems and more.

Campaign pledges are funneled back into the campaign reward merchandise to offer backers more and more merchandise the higher the campaign funding gets. Pledge now and help unlock more stretch goals and get more free items with your reward!

One-Page Printable Yearly Calendar

I like to see the Big Picture. Most calendars suck for that. I also have idiosyncratic wants. Here’s the list of criteria:

  • The weeks starts on Monday. I started experimenting with this a few months ago and love it. Weekends are chunk and belong together visually.
  • The days are continuous. We live an endless stream of days. The calendar should reflect this experience.
  • It fits on one printable page. I want something I can print out on regular paper, and not have to deal with cutting or assembling.

I found this near-perfect solution to my desires, but being near-perfect, I wanted to make it perfect. So I did.

Continue reading “One-Page Printable Yearly Calendar”

Run a Photoshop Action from Applescript

Handy info for running Photoshop actions via Applescript on your Mac. I used this so I can send an image to Photoshop via the Acquire iPhone app (my “scanner”), and then have Drafts save a text file in Dropbox that Hazel picks up and tells Photoshop to run my default scanned sketch Photoshop Action on the artwork image.

Call a Photoshop Action from Applescript

Secure Input & Photoshop’s Hand Tool Spacebar Shortcut

If you are a fellow Photoshop user, and have experienced an unexplained loss of accessing the Hand tool using the spacebar keyboard shortcut, this  may have been caused if you are running password manager software 1Password and have used the “Hide” menu option.

I would have never found this had it not been for the warning on TextExpander‘s menubar icon, and the resulting blog post they published regarding TextExpander and Secure Input.

Quitting 1Password and relaunching it fixed the issue for me, so I can only assume it was indeed the culprit.

Continue reading “Secure Input & Photoshop’s Hand Tool Spacebar Shortcut”

Export All Photoshop Layers to Individual PNG Files

A very handy Photoshop script to export Photoshop layers to individual PNG files over at Graphic Design Stack Exchange. The script you want is the newest version, the link is in this comment.

Yes, Photoshop has a built-in script that does something similar, but this one will name each of the exported files with the name of the layer they were generated from.

Adobe Illustrator: Convert Illustrator Point/Path Text to Area Text

Handy Adobe Illustrator script that will Convert Illustrator Point/Path Text to Area Text as well as a script to do the opposite.

Adobe Illustrator offers no way at all to convert between these two kinds of type objects, which is insane.

Continue reading “Adobe Illustrator: Convert Illustrator Point/Path Text to Area Text”

Guitar Lesson: Learn the Pentatonic Scale

A friend with a new guitar and no experience asked if it was worth taking lessons. I told him it most surely is, but regardless everyone wants to solo and to do that you need to learn, practice and know scales. A guitar teacher is going to tell you to go practice them.

The Pentatonic scale is probably the best one to start with, especially if you want to play rock ‘n’ roll. I learned guitar and scales from two books: Blues Guitar for Dummies and Uncle Tim’s First Year. Both were purchased after quite a bit of research online, and both turned out to be excellent.

I’ve always found guitar charts to be terrible. Not enough information is contained within them. So I made my own with what I think is the right amount of info to start learning the five Pentatonic scale patterns.

Continue reading “Guitar Lesson: Learn the Pentatonic Scale”