Debugging life

A simple idea on how we can log our lives to help us troubleshoot them later

In programming, we use the term debugging to describe the exercise of testing and digging into the code’s details and inner functions to find out the source of an issue. For example, debugging can occur by running the code and reading values in variables as the application runs, review database connections, analyze errors, review requests, and responses to and from an API, etc. Also, you can look at logs with details of application events such as errors to aid the debugging.

How do we use the same idea but instead of debugging software, we debug our lives? I like the idea of it. To try it, I am focusing even more on writing notes about my day, things that come to mind, and ideally whenever there is an event that makes me feel good, sad, angry, peaceful, etc. I want to remember these things, and one way of doing it is by writing them down.

When troubleshooting a software program, you need to reproduce an issue by running through the same steps multiple times to try and catch any information that might help you find the problem. As a software engineer, I can do this because we store information about events such as errors and other information about the application’s state before, during, and after an error occurs. This information is what allows us to debug the software.

In our lives, we cannot replay our day unless we are in the movie Groundhog Day (a great movie, by the way). But if we have information about our day, such as notes, calendar entries, etc. We can use that information to go back and help ourselves remember the events and our feelings on a specific day and time. Having this information might help us remember certain moments better and maybe even find out why we did something or feel a certain way today or in the future. That’s the life debugging part. It will help you replay a day in the past with the help of your notes. These notes might help you remember the why and how of something that happened in the past.

I don’t keep a formal diary or journal, but something that I have been doing for a while is writing notes about things I learn, things I do, and how I feel about them, and I do it in a concise form, just a few words or a sentence. It’s helpful and more effortless than keeping a diary. It’s a logbook. I use a Moleskine daily diary for this. It’s small but includes one page for each day of the year. I find it perfect for logging my day, it’s my logging system, and it works well.

Remembering things is very important, and the older I get, the more I realize that capturing some of the events in your life and how you feel most days is beneficial. Most of us expose ourselves to an incredible amount of distractions, there are many tasks in front of us every day, and unless you try to capture some of them in a permanent form, your mind won’t have the space or capacity to store them. So writing things down helps a lot.

I want to think that at some point, I’ll go back to my logbook and will read it to help me with something in the future. However, this might never happen. But by writing things down in a logbook, I seem to be more in touch with my feelings, and I’m able to recognize the good and bad things that happen many times during a day, every day. It helps me think.

Maybe one day, I’ll be able to upgrade my brain to a version that will include a feature to capture this information reliably without the need to write things down. Maybe it will even have more storage, so it’s easy to save everything in there and without any compression. But in the meantime, writing things down in this logbook is a hack that works for me, and this is how I do my life app work for me. What about you? How do you capture your day and important moments?