Consistent journaling leads to greater confidence and gratitude
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Wade Shearer. I live in Utah with my amazing wife and four kids. I’m a Latter-day Saint. I love cycling, gardening, and backpacking.
I’m also a designer and product leader. I’m Vice President of User Experience at Workfront, the leading provider of cloud-based enterprise work management solutions. Our mission is to unleash a team’s value by helping them focus on the right work, doing their best work, and working faster than ever before. We were just named to the Forbes 2017 Cloud 100, a definitive list of top 100 private cloud companies in the world for the second consecutive year.
I cofounded Front, an annual case study conference and bootcamp for product managers and UX designers. I also cofounded Product Hive, a non-profit user group for product managers and designers, with over 2,700 members. The group has an active online community and meets regularly in-person for talks, panels, workshops, and networking.
When and why did you start journaling?
My first journal entry was 31 August 1987. My teacher in second grade required us to write each day. This is what I wrote my first week:
“I went to California. I like my teacher. I like school. I like spelling. I am glad school has begun. I like recess. I like phonics. I stepped on a nail. It went all the way through my toe. It hurts to walk on it.”
My sister gave me a journal when I was a teenager and encouraged me to write. I made a handful of entries over the years, but was pretty inconsistent. After I graduated from high school though, I left on a two year mission for my church to Missouri and things changed. Homesickness, an extremely focused and structured schedule, and experiencing new cultures and challenges daily were the perfect catalysts for creating an avid journal writer.
During the first nine months, I wrote about 80% of the time — sometimes completing several weeks of consistent entries and then occasionally going several days without writing at all. By 6 October 1999, however, I had developed a consistent habit that I have continued to this day.
What is your journaling routine?
For most of my life I’ve written in the evening before bed. Occasionally, I’ll write at work during a break. I also write occasionally on my phone when I’m waiting in line somewhere or traveling.
Recently, however, I’ve adopted a more regular routine, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s nice to have a consistent schedule and to not have to think about whether I’ve written that today or not. I’ve also wanted to write in the morning to capture emotions and experiences that occur in my dreams. If you don’t those things down immediately upon waking they are lost.
I get up at five-thirty to write in my journal and exercise. Getting an early start and having time alone while it’s still quiet is precious. I stretch and then ride indoors on my spinning bike. I spend most of that time reading, listening to talks or audio books, and watching an occasional show. While I can’t type easily, I can speak — especially at the beginning of a ride before my heart rate is up. My routine now is to punch a few high-level words or phrases into my iPad as soon as I wake. I reflect and meditate while I stretch. Then, I begin my ride and dictate a full journal entry into the Day One app.
Do you focus on longform writing, or on capturing small memories of life?
My entries are usually a few paragraphs in length. I record notable events that occurred throughout the day and then push myself to recall emotions and thoughts that I have had. I also spend time capturing goals and long-term plans. I am a big believer in the value of deliberate and regular reflection and the positive results that come from writing things down. I find journaling to be very therapeutic — especially when done regularly. Journaling is something that I believe most people want to do but feel like they don’t have time for. Taking some time to think and reflect on what I have done — even just a few minutes — is more beneficial than using that time to try and cram in more work. It helps me to see progress and results in increased confidence and gratitude.
Do you have a favorite spot where you like to journal?
I don’t have a favorite place, but I do prefer a full keyboard. I’m getting better at dictation, but I’m still most proficient at typing. The less friction that exists inputting my thoughts, the better chance I have of getting into a flow and recalling more accurate and authentic emotions.
What was your first entry in Day One?
My first entry was 26 December 2013 and was about having found and purchased Day One. I was excited to have found an app that could easily import my existing journal (that I had kept in plain text files) and could export plain text or another standard format, such as JSON. It was a critical that I not be locked into a proprietary format, as it’s impossible to know how I will be journaling in the future. I was also excited about how Day One could export to a nicely-formatted version that I could print. I had started laying out the first few years of my journal in a desktop publishing application for printing, but it was tedious and something I kept procrastinating. My plan is to print five years together at a time in bound volumes.
My son also had a mole removed that day. It was a little sad because we had called it his power button and he used to push it to make himself run fast when he was younger. When we told him that it was going to have to be removed, he was sad. I made him feel better by telling him that if pushed it and turned his power on before they cut it off then it would be on forever. He liked that.
How many entries do you have in your journal?
What is your favorite or most-used feature in Day One?
My favorite feature is that the app is on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad and that everything is in sync. This allows me to write or look things up anywhere I am and on whatever device is most convenient.
I’m pretty boring in terms of other features. I don’t use any formatting or tagging. I don’t add any photos. Recently, I’ve started looking at the “On this day” report and have enjoyed that. It brings back some good memories and having nearly two decades worth of daily entries, it allows me to see interesting patterns through the years.
Do you write mostly on the iPhone, iPad, or the Mac?
I write mostly on the Mac.
Do you follow any journal organization rules?
Nope. I have one journal that contains all entries. I don’t tag, star, or organize them in any way.
Have you ever relied on Day One for something unexpected, or used it to recall details about a specific event or date?
All the time. This is one of the best things about having a digital journal. I use the search feature often to help me recall details about an event or to simply remember what day it happened on. Having a daily log of your life is incredibly valuable. I typed in notes my mother wrote down in my baby book and the journals I kept in elementary school, so Day One now contains everything I have on my life from my birth through today.