I have tried to keep a personal journal of sorts for years, but the activity of jotting down the day’s thoughts or events just hasn’t found a comfortable home.
From notebooks to moleskins, to diaries, to old envelopes, to blogs to note-taking apps… all manner of possible solutions I have tried to help maintain a personal journal. I’m not interested in anything literary or spectacularly detailed, just something to record, in particular, those fleeting thoughts or events during the day that seem, at the time, important enough to float to the surface.
For the most part, these thoughts are anything but important, of course. So by the end of the day when I might find a few minutes of cool-down and sit to write in my journal, my mind is a blank beyond a cold, lifeless list of “things that happened today”. This makes for a very dull journal.
Right there, right now
Accessibility is the key, I’ve found. The lower the resistance to jotting down the notion that spews from my ADD-aligned brain, the more chance I have of maintaining a journal that might not send me to sleep if I decide to read it someday.
For the past month I have written at least one entry in my journal each day: that’s a better record than I have ever achieved in the past. In addition, each entry is relevant, meaningful, and anything but a list of events. Some are rants, some are notes about experiences (like this morning’s strange surf sound bouncing around our local church, a mile from the beach), some are records of something that happened, some are just musings and notions.
The key has been having a means to record this stuff instantaneously, with little sense of interruption: a rapid-fire load-write-save-done. A few seconds after the thought bubbles to the surface, it is recorded and I can move on.
The solution has been an app – well, two, one for the desktop computer, one for the iPhone. Day One (Mac app store) acts as a very simple journal solution. It encourages entering brief snippets of text – though longer ones are fine, too – and collects them all together as a stream or grouped by day. There are no bells and whistles to distract or obscure its simplicity. The app sits in the mac’s menu bar and awaits your thoughts.
Once per day (configurable in the preferences), the menu bar app opens to remind you to add a journal entry. It’s an alarm-clock paradigm, with the ability to “snooze” or skip if you do not have the time or inclination at that moment.
The interface of the main application is thoroughly attractive and encourages its use through elegance and, again, simplicity. The iPhone version is similarly elegant, and the two sync their entries via dropbox or iCloud.
Will I ever read it?
Who knows whether I will ever read through all these entries one day. Likely not. But capturing those fleeting notions as they whizz past, chased by a mob of pitch-fork–wielding to-do items, reduces my daily work frustration just a little.