TL;DR: I'm a computer oriented person, but I've always keep a notebook handy for jotting down ideas or drawings. When I incorporated my first digital consulting business, I started using the notebook to take business notes as well. Now my journal is a companion, it stays with me at all times, it guides me, and keeps me in line. For New Years i'm going to outline how and when I use it, and what has been helpful.
Reasons to Keep a Business Journal
1. Get off the Screen
No power required, and no burning eyes. I'm a Millennial, I grew up with my face glued to a screen, and it's liberating to get off my laptop or phone to process thoughts.
2. Taking notes on a phone comes off an impolite
Yes you look like an asshole when someone is speaking with you and your head is down with your eyes on the phone, no matter what. Taking notes is no excuse. Respect peoples times and physical interaction.
3. Drawing is powerful
It is still not fast to illustrate with computers. Even if you consider yourself a terrible artist, you can better illustrate a thought or concept (bubble-charts, mind maps, etc.) faster with pen and paper than on a phone.
4. Key personal reference
I just recapped my 2015 notebook, man there is some gold in there. I went to a coffee shop and flipped through my thoughts from nine months ago and noticed there are still good ideas I need to execute on. Ideas that at the time did not take the lead, but may make more sense now. There are also irrelevant ideas that need to be completely ignored. Either way, good or bad, it's relevant and helps me understand my thought process months ago, and no one else is going to be able to do that.
Tips for Keeping a Journal
1. Make sure its the right size.. for you
I like the 8" x 5" moleskin with a softcover and dot grid paper. It took 9 books before I found the right paper and size. Try them all, find what works for you, and you will use it more.
2. Write the date in a unique way
I only started doing this a year ago and I'm going to continue doing it because it helps index the book. The format I use is month [day] year, the brackets represent a little box i draw (like a calendar, see the image above for reference). Having this marker makes new entries clear and easy to spot when look through your book.
3. Title each new entry alongside the date
Save yourself reading time by adding a short and simple title next to each date entry.
4. Love your writing utensil
Find a writing utensil you love writing with and you will write more. The simple things will make you happy ;)
5. Create marking systems for notation
Using bullet points, hair lines, bolding, etc. will help you take better notes, and make it more fun.