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Small Business Basics - Keeping a Daily Log

Updated on March 11, 2015

There is no more basic, fundamental, ESSENTIAL, tool for running a business than the daily log. It's not complicated. It's basically nothing but a notebook where you write down notes from phone conversations, meetings, employee discussions, or whatever happens that day. It may be simple, but the impact of having it (or not having it) can be huge.

Taking Notes = Superhuman Memory

Extra brain capacity, waiting to be filled
Extra brain capacity, waiting to be filled

If you have a truly photographic memory, feel free to ignore this. Otherwise, assuming you are a normal human being, you forget things. In everyday life, forgetting things will be an inconvenience. In business, it will be a disaster.

I keep a daily log, but I'll admit that every once in a while, for some reason, I forget to write down something important. Usually it's not too long afterward that I get to become very familiar with the limits of my memory. It can be quite embarrassing to have to call a client and ask them how much you quoted them for their project.

On the other hand, keeping a careful daily log allows me to have a memory better than that of a regular person - to function at a superhuman level. That may seem like an exaggeration, but imagine a scenario where I am calling a client that I haven't spoken to in a long time. I'm trying to re-engage with him to get some more business. I can flip back through my notes and see what I wrote down from our previous conversations. When I call him, I may then be able to bring up a long forgotten fact such as where he went no vacation last year or that his daughter is finishing her first year of college. In reality, I have a notebook and a pen, but from his perspective, I have a superhuman memory.

I'm Not a Lawyer, but...

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Another reason for keeping a daily log is protecting yourself in a lawsuit. I'm not a lawyer, therefore don't take this as official legal advise, but if you ever find yourself in trouble, your daily log could save the day.

How many millions of phone conversations and meetings do you think happen each day? In each one, statements are made that could someday play a role in a lawsuit or court case. Careful notes taken as part of a regular daily log can be a helpful resource facing off against an unscrupulous accuser. Every liar has a perfect memory! Protect yourself with a pen and notebook.


Tools for Daily Logging

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My daily log of choice is a classic Composition Book, and a pen. I like being able to write out my notes in any format, shape, insane system I want. Mixing print, cursive, all-caps, drawing boxes around things, underlining, pointing arrows at certain words, that's what works for me. I also don't like typing while I'm talking to someone. I feel like I'm not listening as well. There is an exception, sometimes I don't have anything to write with, write on, or I'm just not prepared. My backup plan is emailing to myself. I pretty much always have my phone with me. I do usually apologize to anyone I'm meeting with and let them know that I'm taking notes - not texting or purposefully disrespecting them.

You may be different. I know plenty of business people who keep their daily logs on their computer, tablet, or phone. I have been considering going paperless, but I would definitely have to get a tablet and stylus. I would love to hear in the comments if there are any particularly excellent apps or programs that any of you have used successfully.

Just Do It

The daily log is essential, absolutely essential, as a business tool. If you are a business person, and you are currently not keeping a daily log, grab any old scrap of paper and start right now.

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