The Quest for the First Logbook App Ever

Update: In my last post, I set out to design and build the perfect notebook app due to my disappointment of the available apps on the market and the lack of a desktop app for my favorite notebook app, Notebook by Zoho. A day after I published that post, Zoho released their app for Mac! It's like they heard me or something... (Hello? Zoho devs? Are you reading this? Can you build tags into the app?)

...Or it could've been an uncanny coincidence. We may never know.

The Logbook System

Anyway, with my notebook needs satiated for now, I'm onto my next idea. This one is inspired by a Medium article, in which I discovered a simple yet powerful system for learning more potently. It's called the Logbook System, like the kind scientists and researchers sometimes keep. But instead of recording experiment notes or field test findings, you can adapt the logbook into a chronicle of all the things you learn.

The steps are simple:

  1. Start a new spreadsheet (I chose Google Sheets for this job).
  2. Add 3 columns, one for Date, Source, and Learning.
  3. Fill out a row every time you learn something new, limiting the Learning column to about 1-2 sentences or bullets.

The date is self-explanatory; the source is where you learned the info: an article, a chapter from a book, a conversation, anywhere, really. How many times have you learned something in an unexpected context?

Answer: The other day, I was helping a customer at the cash register and he apologized for something (forgot what it was) and I replied, "No worries." He told me that phrase originated in Australia, and most likely caught on in the US after the release of the film "Crocodile Dundee" in the late 80's.

("Thanks, sir, I never knew that! Also, $3.21 is your change.")

Why it works

One of the keys to why this works is the low time commitment and brevity. I've tried journaling on and off for the past decade or so and each time I abandon a journal, it's for the same reason: I don't have enough time to write I all I want to write about.

Keeping the entry short and sweet allows two things to happen:

  1. I won't put it off because I know it only takes a couple minutes to complete.
  2. I'm forced to distill the idea down its core, which requires deeply understanding the topic.

The second key to this system is repetition from revisiting past entries. The more you revisit old entries, the more they become reinforced in your mind, and the more likely you are to incorporate the learning into your life. After all, the information you learn is only as good as what you do with it.

The Quest

Above is my current Logbook. I used it for all of two days before I became unsatisfied with the limits of the platform. For all its robust features and usefulness, Google Sheets is not an ideal place to keep a logbook, at least not the way I'd like to. Docs, Dropbox Paper, or even Notebook by Zoho may work slightly better, but what I'm looking for doesn't exist...for now.

I'm going to build and design a specialized app for keeping logbooks with built-in structure, making the system easier and more streamlined than it already is. I have a feeling a ton of other people will find this app useful, and my goal is to help them learn more potently as well. Hopefully this time, some fast-acting developers and designers won't beat me to the punch!

Updates to come.

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