Revisiting an Evernote Daily Journal31 Oct 2020
I’ve been a long time Evernote user and while the application and services have certainly seen a lot of issues arising in the last decade, I still rely on it for some of my workflows. One of these is my daily journal, and this is a topic I have written about several times before. I recently had a bit of a change to this, and it is time for another quick write-up.
My journalling needs are not ones for my own personal mental health or prosperity, but rather it is purely a business thing for me. I’ve been keeping a daily business journal now for over a decade and it lets me know exactly what I have been working on each day. It is a great boon for me when I’m completing my time sheet each week. It also provides me with a quickly searchable historical log that lets me determine when things occurred.
To support that I automated the creation of a simple journal page.
For so many years I had kept meaning to write-up my Google Script driven method for doing this. It utilised a Google Sheet and GMail to populate a note in the desired format in Evernote on a schedule. But I never quite got around to it, and now my work Google account is no more and the script has passed with it.
As a result I needed a new alternative, but there are two issues that I had addressed with my script:
- I want to use a web service so that it is always on and I can simply set it and forget it in terms of maintenance.
- I use a
yyy-mm-ddformat for my daily title, and this surprisingly curtails the use of a lot of web candidates.
I reviewed the web automation services once again, and not much had changed, with them all seemingly falling short on my date formatting options. All that is except for Integromat.
Now even while I am a lightweight user of Integromat, the automation scenarios they permit on their free tier is rather restrictive, allowing just two active scenarios. I already had two scenarios in use, so it didn’t look promising at first. However, one of the scenarios is one for managing daily publications on this web site on once a day schedule.
This scenario was an HTTP post request issued at 7 AM each day, the timer being on the HTTP action. After looking through the available options I added a router step and placed the timer on that instead, and then linked that to the HTTP post request. Routers can trigger multiple steps and so I then added another step that would follow the same schedule. This time, to create a new note in Evernote.
There are a couple of key points I want to highlight.
The first is that Integromat gives me the control I was looking for in terms of formatting the title using the current date. It is surprising how little control other services I looked at seem to provide in this area; or perhaps I was overlooking the options.
The second point is that the content entry in the Integromat:Evernote integration is a mandatory field. I simply start with a blank page for my journal. My work is such that every day really is a blank page in terms of what I may or may not be doing. I spent a while exhausting all of the “empty” variable options that Integromat offered me, with all of them still throwing up an error about the content having to contain something. Eventually I hit upon the idea of using an HTML comment structure, and that gave me an error free run and a blank page.
I now have a working solution once again. Every day when I come to start logging my business activities my journal is there waiting for me. It is tagged, in the right notebook, correctly titled, and empty.
I don’t know quite how much longer I’ll be sticking with Evernote. They certainly seem to have made moves to treat power users as third-class citizens and I get the impression that they really are not listening to their user base in general; though maybe we only ever hear the ones who are shouting these days?
Unless things change, I do expect to migrate to another platform. But currently, Evernote is the only app that ticks a lot of the boxes on what I need (cross-platform (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Web), image support, file attachments, searchable PDFs, web clipping, shareable subsets of notes, automatable/API) and would have to find a replacement for. So, until I find a viable alternative Evernote will remain my go to solution for a good chunk of my content storage needs.