One of the most valuable lessons I have learned when it comes to practicing my writing skills is knowing the importance of having a daily writing habit. Obviously, not everything I feel the need to write down is appropriate for my blog or social media. That is why keeping a journal has become such an important part of my life. After years of trying to get into a consistent writing program, I finally found some success using a variety of apps and tools. While I have definitely made progress, I still haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the full value of being a consistent journal keeper.
Here are my 4 favorite tools for building a daily journaling habit.
I tried this one for months and was very happy with it. It allows for the most free-flowing and natural format for quickly jotting down your days’ activities. Its very simple. Once you sign up, you get a daily email that asks one question – “What did you get done today?”. You just reply to the email with what you did that day. No limits on length or format. You can even attach images, videos, or presentations. For a few weeks, I made a point to attach a copy of everything I worked on that day – from client presentations to blog drafts, even if they weren’t finished. The really cool part is that iDoneThis will intermittently remind you of things you did on random days. Sometimes, these served as cool reminders of what I was working on or going through in the past. The personal use version is free, but there are paid versions for using them with teams.
This is certainly the most elegant choice of the lot. The app comes with a beautiful interface and offers a great user experience. The only drawback for me is that there is currently no desktop version for PC (I’m a proud iPhone user, but can’t part with my HP Envy). I found a really great rhythm when I started using dictating my journal entries into the app on my daily commute home. Perhaps the most substantive advantage I found when using this app was the ability to add context via the weather, tagging, and easy image-adding options. For some reason, this made going back and re-reading old entries much more enjoyable.
The only other negative I noticed was that the app isn’t free, which always kind of makes me resentful, but for a few bucks, it was was worth the buy.
Pro tip: If you do decide that a journal entry might actually be appropriate for social media, there’s an easy share option within the app that integrates with you social profiles.
This is perhaps the most seamless option if you are already an avid Evernote user, like me. The best method for journaling with Evernote for me was to save templates that I can plug into each new entry. I borrowed mine from Michael Hyatt and tweaked it just so to fit my personal preference. The only drawback for me happens to be the same reason I can’t read books on my iPad – its just so darn easy to succumb to distractions. After all, my entire life is basically archived in Evernote which makes it incredibly easy to drift off into a pending task or article I’ve saved to read later.
That being said, I highly recommend using Evernote for journaling, but only if you have the ability to block out potential distractions and focus for long periods of time, which is a skill I have not been gifted.
4) Pen and Paper
The greatest benefit of going with the pen and paper is perhaps its therapeutic qualities, particularly if you are outside of your normal routine. For example, I love to record entries in my Moleskine when on vacation or on the weekends. Writing by hand always results in more time spent in writing mode. As great as it is, it just wasn’t sustainable for me. My hands have just become so accustomed to translating my thoughts via typing rather than writing. The written word is certainly a lost art, but frankly, I am just too busy to right that wrong.
I have experimented with countless journaling tactics and tools and these are the ones that I liked the best. I still jump around among this group from time to time, depending on my mood or place in the world.
I hope that you will find as much value from these as I have. Let me know how they work for you.