A few weeks ago, I talked about how creating multiple journals was an essential tip to developing a journal habit.
The premise was pretty simple: If you have multiple journals, it’s easier to to know what is and what is not a journal entry. In my experience, with one journal, it’s easier to forego completing a journal entry in the sake of maintaining a uniform journal than it is to actually write the journal entry.
Of course, there are other reasons to maintain multiple journals. Here are a few that may help you get into your journal rather than wishing you were in your journal.
1. Search and Find
Unless you use a digital journal like Day One, searching for a specific entry can be a nightmare.
For instance, I find I am at my most creative when I use a pen and paper to brainstorm. If I put my brainstorming sessions into one, over-arching journal, going back to find that brainstorming session can be incredibly difficult if I don’t remember exact dates or know exactly where to look.
I’ve found breaking apart my giant, catch-all journal into specific scopes and topics can simplify finding old information. Of course, you could use a digital journal and do a quick “CMD + F” to find a term anywhere in your journal, but this might not be how you work at your best.
For anyone using physical mediums to maintain a journal, creating multiple journals will greatly expand your ability to find old entries.
2. Cues and Indicators
If each of your journals has a specific scope, determining when to write in your journal becomes much easier.
Let’s say you keep your own personal “Movie Reviews” journal. What better time to write that review than moments after you watch the movie, right when you are digesting the hard-hitting climax of the story? The ending of the movie or walking out of the theater can act as a sort of “trigger” to ensure you write in your “Movie Reviews” journal.
Triggers or cues to write can occur throughout the day, which makes having a quick access journal fairly necessary. If you’re into physical mediums, keeping a small memo book in your back pocket works quite well. Or, again, if you keep your journal inside a digital format, having your iPhone handy is the ultimate way to capture a journal entry when the trigger occurs.
In all honesty, designating a set time of the day to journal is a very inefficient use of time. Days and events change, and changing up your schedule just to ensure you have journaling time is, well, a waste of time.
Maintaining multiple journals is a far superior way to use your journaling time efficiently and effectively. If you have a journal at the office, you can undertake any work journaling at a downtime during the day. If you have a photo journal, you can snap a photo and create a journal entry on the spot, or, if you have a travel journal, you can add entries as you go through your day rather than at the end of the day when you’re exhausted.
4. Multiple Formats
This one is as self-explanatory as it gets — both physical journals and digital journals each have their own shortfalls, so maintaining at least one of each should be the preference.
Don’t have a photo printer? Keep your photos in a digital journal. Same goes for travel maps, water consumption tracking, or workout routines.
If you’re a creative type, keeping your drawings and sketches inside a physical drawing book seems pretty natural. Spare notes and messages may also call for a physical notebook.
Whatever the case or however you work, maintaining multiple journals comes with a nice side effect of being able to cross over mediums and platforms with relative ease.
I’m a stickler when it comes to uniformity and consistency in my journals — all journal entries within a journal need to look the same, or have the same types of content, or have the same general theme. As life changes and new themes occur, I need room to expand my journaling habit to fit the new type of content.
In my experience, adding a new journal is a lot easier than going back and trying to reformat everything with the new type of content inside. For example, if I have a “Travel” journal but want to add photos to the journal, it’s easier to create a new “Travel Photography” journal than it is to go back and insert photos into every entry.
Obviously, this might be an example for the most obsessive journalers out there. But the idea applies: It’s always easier to add a new journal to your habit than it is to go back and try to fix old entries. What’s done is done and the past is in the past — creating a new journal for going forward is always the best option.
In The End, It’s About Journaling
Maintaining multiple journals may not be for everyone. My mind works in compartments, with clear, delineated lines between different spheres of my life. One general, catch-all journal just doesn’t fit how I think or work, and I suspect many people would feel the same way.
If you work best by putting everything into one giant journal that encompasses all areas of your life, more power to you. I just want as many people as possible to know the power of keeping a journal.
But if you think keeping multiple journals might improve your journaling habit, there’s no better digital platform for journaling than Day One. I mean, it even has “Multiple Journals” as a headline feature in its latest update. You can create as many journals as you’d like and not have to worry about carrying them around everywhere you go.
Pretty efficient, if you ask me.