“The small details will help you remember the big details.” ~ Austin Kleon

The human brain is truly amazing. With it we can compute complicated calculations. We can come up with earth-shattering ideas. We’ve even put people on the moon using the power of our brains. But for some strange reason, we can’t remember what we had for lunch yesterday.

About six months ago I stumbled across a way to help remember all of these little details. It’s been ridiculously easy to maintain, and it might work for you too.

I’ve talked on here, and plan to talk some more, about the importance of keeping a journal. The kind of journal I’m talking about isn’t a “what I had for lunch yesterday” kind of journal. It’s more of a daily record of what’s going on in your heart – all of those things that are weighing you down from getting on with what you’re trying to get on with. That being said, a daily record of what you did can be a great tool, so I’ve got a great idea for you to try.

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve already got a full plate. Journaling is just one more thing cutting into time you don’t have. Well, I’m going to throw something out at you. If it doesn’t work, then send it right back.

Try a logbook.

In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon mentions a very simple, streamlined kind of journal he calls a logbook. This consists of nothing more than a little book where you list what you did that day. It can be nothing more than a simple bulleted list of whatever you did of significance. Where you ate, who you hung out with, what you worked on, what you watched, or even the weather, all make for perfect logbook candidates. You could get an app on your phone if you don’t want to have to carry something else, or you could just get a basic notepad and leave it by your nightstand.

Kleon is a visual artist, so his pages are filled with little drawings and whatnot. If that works for you, by all means. But if you’re more of a stick-figure artist like myself, yours might be a little simpler. For example, here’s what I did on May 10, 2013:


My logbook entry from May 10

My logbook entry from May 10

You see what I did there? Nothing hard. Maybe 60 seconds of late night scribbling in my bunk on the tour bus. But now I can tell you that four months ago today, we had a great show in Louisville, Kentucky. I shopped for Mother’s Day presents, and our good friends Pete Hise and Dave Stone were at the show. I also watched a lot of Sherlock on the bus.

What’s even more interesting though is how the brain can fill in the details that aren’t there. I can also tell you that it rained a lot that day, that a tractor trailer turned over right outside the church parking lot, and that we recorded video of that night’s show and watched it later. I didn’t write these things down. I didn’t have to.

If you’re new to journaling, this could serve as a very low key entry into something you might really enjoy. If you’re already a journaler, this might be an easy way to chronicle the big picture so you can focus on the details in your other writing. It’s so simple anybody can do it.

Have you ever used a logbook type journal? Do you have any thoughts or tips about journaling? Do tell! Use the comments below to share.