I keep my diary from 2005, the profit and enjoyment of this activity is going through the roof :)
Let's start with such an obvious benefit as an opportunity to go back in time, even a few years ago and compare our expectations with what happened in the end. It's amazing how easily we forget our thoughts and emotions even three months later, not to mention a period of several years.
The phenomenon of "Little Swan": adult swan is sure that he was the same swan in his childhood, just smaller. While, in fact, he was just an ugly duckling. Figuratively, but not far from the truth.
By just re-reading my personal blog, I get rid of the illusion that some steps have been made in vain, or, on the contrary, correctly. Diary puts everything in its place and helps me to avoid the old rakes. It's especially fun to watch these rakes, returning over and over again until I clean them off the road with the help of a diary.
There are also psychological benefits: a diary is a silent therapist whom we can lay out your hopes and dreams, fears and doubts. And, laying out all the honest, to look at ourselves as if from outside. Very effective, I highly recommend it. If you're still thinking you can afford to lie or embellish to yourself, on paper any "pull the ears" gimmicks are all visible at once.
The same is true for evaluation of our promising ideas, our planning, and post hoc analysis of our work. Furthermore, as we write down our ideas we have to verbalize and formalize them so that in itself clears up and crystallizes our thoughts. It's not only idea that matters, it's our mood and emotions.
Keeping a diary isn't a dry report on our life, not memoirs. Diary is a way to reflect on the paper we are doing now, what do we care about. Diary is, in fact, an "incubator" of all our ideas, plans and their implementation. The free flow of thoughts on paper.
Personally, I do the following: if in the morning I come to work and clearly know what I will do today, I sit down and just do it. I don't even open my diary. This way my diary misses the most active days of my life, but it already did its job in making them happen. If there are any records at all, they just support the current work - mini-todo lists, fragmentary thoughts. It's not bad because our main goal is to keep moving.
If I come to work and do not know what I would do, or the work is not well understood or I do not want to do it, then the diary is used very actively: I just start to reflect on the paper until I find the direction and plan my work, as well as get enough motivation to do it. Then I put my diary aside and get back to work.
This way a diary, in fact, becomes a tool for both planning and psychotherapy. More thinking on paper, free writing, not only on the technical moments but also on my desires and global plans. I "refresh" my global plan and restore the motivation to move in the right direction.
Just click on the green button at the top left corner with the image of the book. It will automatically create a diary entry for today. If it already exists, you will be redirected to it, so you can easily click on it at any time and do not think, what exactly will happen as the result.
Then just write it in a free form, free writing. It's especially effective in the afternoons when you are exhausted but don't want to waste extra hours of your life. With the help of a diary, you can organize your thoughts and to prepare or adjust the plans for the nearest future.
It's a matter of habit: in a week you will hardly remember your days without the diary :)
Yet another important detail: the diary is the flow of ideas, not a report. You should not edit it, rewrite or clean up. Let it remain exactly the same stream of thoughts that it was originally. I never touch what I written - so in the future, I can remember the complete situation and feel what I felt that day.
By the way, I re-read my diary really rare - perhaps once a year at most. It happens only when I start to procrastinate due to overwork. This "live" stream of thoughts from the past enables me to restore not only the formal picture of events but also to restore my motivation back.
If you are concerned about security, you can encrypt notebook with your diary. But it's important not to forget your password because it will be impossible to restore in case you lose it.