By Tyler Jefford
On April 12th, 2023
In 2020 I wrote a post about journaling and how I benefit from the simple act of writing things down at the end of the day. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this over the last 3 years and wanted to write a follow up on how my habits have evolved and what I get out of writing in my journal daily.
I still use Day One, syncing across my Apple devices every night. To date, I have a 1,123 day streak of writing in my journal. Its even a goal of mine to write in my journal daily. I still write a lot about the things that are happening around me, but I have switched up the format a little bit to make my writing feel less like a chore.
In Day One, and in other journaling apps or your notebook, there is a concept of templates. You can add templates from a gallery, edit them, and even create your own. I’ve done a bit of both. Lately, I have been using a template that I call the 5 Minute PM template. This template gives me three sections. The first is to write down the top 3 things that happened today in a numbered list. Some days this is a challenge, do I write down the mundane meetings and boring work I did all day? Yes, I do. I write about the movies, or tv shows I watched while being lazy on a Sunday. Future Tyler may find it interesting how I spent this day in history.
The second section of this template is a single question: How Could I Have Made Today Better? Its a hard question to answer some days. When things are going really well, I had a lot of fun or really enjoyed the day, how do you answer? I’m not too hard on my self if I answer “nothing”. Other days, its about sleep, or work issues, or things going on in my life that I can react better to.
The last section in this template is where I usually add photos. I try to snap a photo or two per day to show what I am doing during the day. They can be pretty boring.
I have been trying to add as many photos to my daily journal entries as I can. A snap of a cloud from my evening walk against the sunset, or a selfie. Maybe a food dish I made, or something else. I try to add notes about what the photos are, especially if they aren’t referenced in my daily top 3.
I like to think about these in the future, when you are going through an old photo book and you see a bunch of photos and people you haven’t thought about in a long time. Only inside my journal, I have a lot of context about what was happening that day, that week and even extra metadata about the environment I was in.
Another aspect of Day One I try to keep up to date as much as possible is the location, my steps, weather and more. This helps provide context that could be interesting when I look back at the entries. Did I go for a longer walk than normal, I can see the weather was 66 degrees and sunny.
I like the map feature of the app, it will show all the locations I have created a journal entry from. My goal is to keep entries in each place I go with pictures and memories so I can remember them for a long time.
If it isn’t clear about the theme of my recent journaling its to preserve my memories, to write down the things that are happening in my life so an older Tyler can look back on these things in my life. I love the On This Day feature on Day One, where I can see all the entries I wrote on that day, throughout history. I think my earliest entry at this point is over 8 years old. With daily journaling, sometimes multiple entries, this feature becomes more useful.
Every night as I write in my journal, I reflect on the day. The things that seem so large and problematic right now, will inevitably be so small in my rear view mirror next year. After I finish my entry, I look at the past entries for the day. I see what I was thinking, what was most important to me at that time in history and think about how far I’ve come since then. I feel like it helps me regulate my mental health to see where I am and where I am going - but also where I’ve been.
I saw this graph on Day One’s blog some time back and it made me really interested in how others journal. I feel like I fit into each of these categories at different times. Which one are you?
I don’t hide the fact that I journal. It is an incredibly powerful tool I use everyday that helps me grow, learn and remember things that is going on around me.
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