Introducing BugBook

A Tool For Objective Self-Discovery

“And I used to have a little book called the bug book, where I’m the bug and I’m studying the bug called Jim.”

In his interview on The Tim Ferris Show, business author Jim Collins talks extensively about his journaling practice, inspired by a mentor who suggested that he study himself like a bug. I tried out Jim’s journaling approach, and benefitted greatly, so I built BugBook.

The purpose of Bug Book is to help users discover and learn more about themselves. In Jim’s words, “We struggle in our 20s to get clarity about how to deploy ourselves in the world. Because everything up until you finish high school, or college, or graduate school, or whatever, it’s structured. You don’t really have to think about it. It’s like, “Oh, I gotta figure out how to do these math problems,” or whatever. But life isn’t really like that. And then all of a sudden, you hit life and life is much more ambiguous. And so, you’re trying to navigate through it. So I, like a lot of people, was trying to figure out how to best to deploy myself in my 20s.”

The core idea is to study yourself as a scientist would study a newly discovered bug, imagining that you are observing, with dispassionate objectivity, a bug called…you. Its scientific, almost clinical. A scientist doesn’t judge the bug they are studying, they merely observe and note what makes it tick.

BugBook has a simple three step journaling system to help you observe yourself like that too:

Step 1: Daily Rating

Each day gets a score from -2 to 2. A -2 is an awful day. A 2 is a fantastic day!

Step 2: Creative Hours

Creativity is key. How much time are you dedicating to the things you want to focus on?

Step 3: Free Journal

You can put whatever you want here, but a simple accounting of the events of the day works best.

Once you have a few entries, BugBook has visualization tools to help you discover patterns. Word clouds help you find commonalities among your positive days, while graphs can help you find patterns in your daily scores.

A graph from BugBook’s Visualizations tool

Finally, BugBook’s “Observations” page helps you keep track of the granular insights you come across as you continue your journaling practice, phrased as scientific observations about the bug called you. For example, “the bug Jim really loves making sense of something difficult, breaking it down into understandable pieces, and teaching it to others.”

You can check the app out, and register for your own account at BugBookJournal.com. And if you’re interested, the source code is publicly available on my GitHub. The client side code is here, and the server code is here.

If you check it out, I would love to here your thoughts and feedback.

And, if you want to see behind the scenes of building things like BugBook, as well as my journey from Shakespearean Actor to Software Engineer, give me a follow on Twitter.

Big ‘ole Nerd. Student in Thinkful’s Software Engineering Immersion Program. Follow me on Twitter @ARColeburn

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