Journaling with Emacs OrgMode

January 1, 2009

I like to keep a daily journal of what I’m working on so that I can look back and see what I was up to yesterday or a week ago. I sometimes shift context so often during a day that I completely forget what I was previously doing. I used to do this manually in a plain text file, but now I’ve automated it using Emacs OrgMode.


From anywhere in Emacs, I just hit C-c j and it opens up my journal, creates a new entry if today’s entry doesn’t already exist, and let’s me start typing. It also narrows the buffer in Emacs so that I only see today’s entry when I’m journaling.

It might be nice to extend this similarly to my Emacs GTD capture system. I could bind a system wide hot key to open a new frame with the current journal entry; then I could get to my journal easily from anywhere.

Here’s the code for those who are interested.

(defvar org-journal-file "~/Documents/org/"
  "Path to OrgMode journal file.")
(defvar org-journal-date-format "%Y-%m-%d"
  "Date format string for journal headings.")

(defun org-journal-entry ()
  "Create a new diary entry for today or append to an existing one."
  (switch-to-buffer (find-file org-journal-file))
  (let ((today (format-time-string org-journal-date-format)))
    (unless (org-goto-local-search-forward-headings today nil t)
      ((lambda () 
         (insert today)
         (insert "\n\n  \n"))))
    (backward-char 2)
    (unless (= (current-column) 2)
      (insert "\n\n  "))))


Journaling with Emacs OrgMode - January 1, 2009 - Jack Moffitt