GTD: What Are You Doing Right Now Redux

Journal is an Applescript application designed to log your activity or act as a time-centric journal. This journal script uses one timed repeat variable from 9 to 5 PM, and another the rest of the time, using your system clock. It’s downright simple.

JournalMy previous attempt at a time-tracking script worked well for a while. But I wanted something that was self-contained so I could share it with my friends and coworkers. I also wanted to cut down on key strokes.

Since my internet connection has been intermittent the past couple of days and I couldn’t get much work done, I decided to switch gears and see what I could put together. Plus, I’ve been wanting an excuse to dig into Applescript more. This is my new and improved journalling script.

What is it and what does it do?

  • Journal is an Applescript application designed to log your activity or act as a time-centric journal.
  • This journal script uses one timed repeat variable between the hours of 9 to 5 PM (Option 1), and another the rest of the time (Option 2), using your system clock. I use these options to slow the journal updates after my regular work hours are over.
  • It creates a folder on your startup disk called ‘Daily Journal’ and creates a date-stamped journal entry as a text file.
  • Every X minutes (depending on the variables you set), a dialog opens asking you what you are doing. Type, and hit Enter.
  • A time-stamped journal entry is appended to the daily journal entry text file.
  • In the dialog box, you also have the option to open the journal file or cancel.

Benefits of using this application:

  • It automates your time-tracking. Use it for billing, accountability, journalling, etc.
  • It reminds you to get back to work if you’re still reading Digg.
  • It gives you the big picture view of your activities for the day.
  • It brings you back to the present moment, good for self-awareness.
  • It’s downright simple.
  • You could force your employees to use it and micro-manage their every movement.

How to use:

  1. Download the application and unzip.
  2. Double click the app or set as a login item. You can copy it to your ‘Applications’ folder or run it from anywhere.
  3. Default options are:
    Option 1 startTime = 9 (9 AM)
    Option 1 endTime = 17 (5 PM)
    Option 1 timeOption1 = (15 * 60) — repeats every 15 minutes
    Option 2 timeOption2 = (60 * 60) — repeats every hour
    Modify to your preferences.
  4. When the dialog box opens, type whatever you want and hit Enter.

Tips and Pointers:

  • If you want to edit any of the variables, open Journal.app from within the Script Editor and set your options.
  • Choosing ‘Open Journal’ will override the ability to add an entry to the journal. For this reason, I’ve included a raw, single-instance version of the journal script to run manually from the finder, script menu, or by a keyboard shortcut or Quicksilver action. Using this version will pull up the dialog window so you can add something to your journal in between scheduled entries or open the journal. If you don’t like the automatic interruptions of the app version, use this script instead.
  • The Journal is a stay open app. I’m not sure why, but choosing ‘Quit Journal’ (Cmd+Q) doesn’t quit the program. The problem isn’t that it hangs. You can see in ‘Activity Monitor’ that it remains responsive. Until I figure out why, I either let it close when I shut down or I force quit.
  • If you don’t respond to a dialog before the script repeats, you’ll get an ‘AppleEvent timed out’ error. So it’s a good practice to quit the Journal if you’re leaving your computer for any amount of time that’s longer than the next repeat. The other thing you can do is make the repeat time longer and just plan on typing more in each individual entry.
  • If you want to go beyond just the concrete level of your moment-to-moment activities, the NLP Neurological Levels can give your journal entries some depth. You can note your current environment, your current and previous behaviors, what skills you are using, the beliefs you are operating under, what kind of person you are being, and who else might be involved. It’s good motivation and can help you remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Future plans:

  • Add idle or pause controls.
  • Add ability to set variables in a run dialog.
  • Twitter integration.

I hope you enjoy using Journal as much as I enjoyed creating it.