SH | Dtbs

In the middle of the desert you can say anything you want

28 Sep 2021

What is this?

My current productivity / note taking system

This describes the approach I use for years now and am really happy with.

Diensttagebuch / Work journal

I stole the idea from an /r/AskHistory thread, where a Dienttagebuch was mentioned as source and I thought that was really cool. In English, I’d translate this as “Work journal”, “Work notebook”, “Lab notebook”.

I note here bits I think I’ll need later. What I learned, what problems I had, how I solved them. Titles and partly content are optimized for easy grepping/“Ctrl+F”-ing. The Master file has all the Days concatenated in chronological order for even easier search.

This is the single best productivity/memory/PKM tool that helps me the most. I think it stuck because I tried to make its use as low-effort as possible:

  • Opening today’s Day is literally a <Ctrl-minus> away
  • ./ commits the state, builds it and uploads it here; it also creates a master textfile with all days I can open locally
  • Writing is easy - it’s text and vim, which I love. I also have a lot of shortcuts etc for copying links in markdown format, creating references etc.
  • Searching is easy because it’s either text, or a long webpage.

As of 28th September 2021, I’ve been keeping it for 1001 (one-thousand-and-one!) days! /

This is related to two other markdown files I have for more private stuff. That idea, of course, also came from elsewhere.1

Work-specific stuff, plans, notes from meetings etc go into

Identically structured, contains records of daily plans, tasks, things like IBANs, phone numbers, free-form thoughts, notes from phone calls etc. Answers questions like “A year ago when buying stuff from IKEA there was an item not available in our city, which item it was?”

In both files, I heavily use indentation, tab-based vim folds etc. for easier navigation and parsing. I also have custom vim matchgroups that highlight the date, lines starting with TODO or XXX and other specific parts with their own colours.

For the main website, check out


  • 09 January 2019: Created
  • 28 September 2021:
    • switched from Jekyll to Hugo, now building takes 0.5 seconds instead of 30.
      • Which broke a lot of formatting, especially things like code inside <li>s etc
    • Added “Notes” to keep the non-work non-IT things separate from the “Dienst” things.

  1. My productivity app for the past 12 years has been a single .txt file | Hacker News ↩︎

Nel mezzo del deserto posso dire tutto quello che voglio.