Five Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal

I used to think keeping a gratitude journal was easy.

I had this little workflow setup through Launch Center Pro on my iPhone which asked me different questions at the end of each day. My answers were then sent to Day One and saved there forever.Those answers always ended up being repetitive and monotonous. I’d rarely dive into descriptive thoughts or feelings, instead opting to just finish the end-of-day quiz and get to sleep.Of all the journaling habits I’ve developed, gratitude journaling became the most boring and fell by the wayside.

Research suggests I made a mistake.

Gratitude journaling has a wide range of benefits. It improves sleep, improves your sense of wellbeing, and improves your willingness to accept change and disruptive events in your life. For me personally, gratitude journaling has also improved my spirituality.

And, most importantly, gratitude journaling surely improves positivity and an outlook for the future.

Getting back into gratitude journaling required some research. Along the way, these five tips jumped out as fundamental cornerstones to keeping a gratitude journal.

Let’s jump in.

1. Be descriptive, personal, and positive: Gratitude journaling works best when you genuinely dive into that which you are grateful for. Like authors describe all the functions of a scene in a storybook, so too should you when describing your gratefulness.

Focusing on people and your relationship with them also brings about a better sense of satisfaction. Sure, we are all grateful for some things, but it’s usually the people in our lives who have the greatest impact. Focus on people and move from there.

And of course, gratitude journaling isn’t going to improve your positivity if you’re not actually positive in your writing. Science has shown it’s easier to remember negative events than positive events, so this could be the most difficult step of all. As Lisa Shoreland states over at Positively Present:

Help really transform your thoughts by finding the positive side of negative situations. Instead of dwelling on things that are not working out – maybe a failed relationship, or financial hardships, or health problems – try to find a positive in those situations.

2. Don’t go through the motions and don’t overdo it: I let my gratitude journal slip by the wayside the first time around thanks to a repetitive sense of going through the motions.

More research: Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research suggests writing less in your gratitude journal (but still under some sort of structure or schedule) leads to more happiness than writing more often in your gratitude journal. I feel like this has been effective in my journaling as well — I feel happier and more grateful when I explicitly choose to journal about gratitude. Anecdotal at best, but I can attest to it.

3. Employ Tim Ferriss’ gratitude journal methods: Tim Ferriss is well known for his bestselling books and life coach lessons, but his approach to keeping a gratitude journal is one of the best. Ferriss focuses on four categories to ensure gratitude journaling keeps its splendor.

  1. Focus on relationships
  2. Focus on opportunities
  3. Focus on great events
  4. Focus on simple things

I find a particular impact when focusing on opportunities and great or important life events, but each of these categories could have a different impact on you. Relationships, again, are the most impactful aspects of most of our lives, while opportunities keep inspiration flowing into our lives to trigger great events.

Overall, Tim’s categories appear to flow from start to finish to help you recognize a greater process.

4. Use surprises as gratitude journal triggers:
This is an easy one. Whenever something important, surprising, or memorable works its way into your life, you can use the event as a trigger to jump into your gratitude journal. When these events happen, it’s easy to describe whathappened, how it happened, why it happened, and your reaction to the result.

I think this can improve your happiness, sense of self-satisfaction, and sense of self-realization, but it can also help develop successful habits. If there is an underlying pattern to the surprising and memorable events in your life, journaling will help recognize that pattern.

Plus, journaling triggers make journaling too easy.

5. Be grateful in the morning and reflective in the evening: We’ve talked about the Five-Minute Journal once before here on the Day One blog.

The structure of the journal is simple: be grateful in the morning and reflect at the end of the day. The Five-Minute Journal has three simple tasks each morning. First, you recognize three things you are grateful for. Second, you visualize three things that would make the upcoming day great. And third, you complete two different personal affirmations. Then, at the end of the day, you can unwind by reflecting on the great events of the day.

Overall, the structure is simple. But the structure leads to starting each day on a positive note and ending each day with a smile on your face.


I’ve found grateful moments occur around important life events — both good and bad life events — and around family events. I’ve used these types of events to trigger gratitude journal writing, but I’ve still found it difficult to create a habit without any sort of trigger.

Fortunately, actually being grateful doesn’t require writing it down. You can recognize your own gratefulness in a conversation with your spouse or friend, or you can express it through prayer. Journaling is only one avenue for improving gratitude and happiness.

Although, journaling may be the most effective avenue.

10 Journal Ideas to Revitalize Your Summer Journaling

How to make sure a summer to remember ends up in your journal

With the sun shining, the waves crashing, and the grass growing, it can be hard to keep a growing journal. It’s the reality of the beautiful summer season — inspiration may be at an all-time high, but finding the time to record in your journal can be difficult.

On the other hand, inspiration could be at an all-time low due to the drawn out days of work and little time to rest or recuperate. It’s easy to fall into the second trap.

Fortunately, we’re here to help on the inspiration front. Any one of the following ten journal ideas could grow into a mammoth journal on their own. No pressure. Grab one, two, or all ten ideas and get back into your journal this summer.

1. Travel Journal

This is a no-brainer at this time of year. At least 23% of Americans planned and booked a vacation by the end of May 2017, so there should be no shortage of travel journaling going on.

The results can be breathtaking. I kept a travel journal of our trip to Europe last summer and have revisited those journal entries exactly one year after. It’s fun to sip on a cup of coffee with your significant other and reminisce about the ups and downs of taking trains and airplanes through Spain and Italy.

One day, you won’t remember where you were or how you got to each place. Storing the details in a journal can be a huge boost to your travel memory.

2. Photo Journal

Photo journals can go hand in hand with many others on this list, but it’s especially easy to develop a photo journal with Day One’s Activity Feed. If you snap a photo on your iPhone or if you add a photo to Instagram, Day One automatically picks up the photo and can quickly add it to an entry.

If, like me, you want to see where you came from as a photographer, Activity Feed can be a great tool, or, if you’re a visual person, keeping memory-jogging photos helps stir the brain.

Photos are worth a thousand words, so a thousand photos will tell you a lot about your past-self.

3. Pregnancy Journal

I’m on the wrong side of the biological fence on this one, but I know my expecting-wife wants to look back on her pregnancy and learn from her first go-around. From different foods, to different moods, to different triggers for physical symptoms, keeping some sort of pregnancy journal can help ease the load as the term goes by.

Even more so, reflecting on the amazing gift of growing life before birth can bring a tear to your eye. It does for me. I still can’t get over the dramatic shifts and changes I see in my wife each day, let alone the awe and wonder at the child growing within her.

I’m not a parent yet, but I bet most parents would look back on their pregnancies and be met with a wink and a smile. They’re worth reflecting on, even if you go through a particularly enduring set of struggles.

4. Collections Journal

I know a few numismatists who would greatly benefit from keeping a collections journal. The level of technical detail in coin and currency collecting is jaw dropping. Throwing it into a searchable journal can make it a bit more manageable.

Using Day One, collectors could snap a photo of their latest collection addition, jot down a few specifics, note the value, and store the entry away for future visits. If anyone ever asks which year, or which series, or which rating you’ve given the item in hand, a quick search can do the trick.

Collection journals may not be visited as often as a few other journals on this list, but keeping data on each individual piece can be invaluable for both collectors and those looking to learn a thing or two about your hobby.

5. Bucket List Journal

Another one of those journals you may not visit all that often, a bucket list journal would be great for living life with passion and excitement. Wanted to skydive your whole life? Keep a checklist, note your experience, shoot a photo, and add it to your journal when complete.

At the top of my bucket list is a visit to Fenway Park to watch a baseball game before the historic park closes. Whenever I get to check the item off the list, you can be sure a few photos of the old seats, the Green Monster, and the classic scoreboard will line the top of my bucket list journal entry.

One day.

6. Food/Drink/Beer/Wine Journal

This is another no-brainer journal, and one which greatly benefits from a little automation. Back in January, we published a mini-guide to using TextExpander and Day One to automate a bunch of mundane typing tasks. We highlighted film/comic/book reviews in the TextExpander guide, but it can easily be adapted to a food/drink/beer/wine journal.

Trying a new brew or a new bottle? Whip out your iPhone, snap a photo of the cuisine, and fill out a quick TextExpander survey you can reflect on in the future. I find this kind of journal takes some considerable time to develop, but can be a great resource if you’re with a group of friends aiming to try something new.

Was that India Pale Ale good the last time you tried it? Your food/drink/beer/wine journal probably has the answer.

7. Property Catalog/Asset List

Asset lists are numerous and wide-ranging in my little world.

Except that I don’t have one of my own.

Personal asset lists may sound earthly and possessive to some, but these types of lists can be exceptionally valuable under numerous circumstances. Applying for a debt product at the bank? Having a complete asset list in your journal can yield a better answer than “I’ll have to get back to you on that.” If catastrophe strikes, your property catalog/asset list can help your family ensure your estate is well taken care of.

Plus, asset lists have this inherent ability to show — in some numerical fashion — some of the fruits of your labor.

So, whether for the positive or the catastrophic, keeping an asset list updated in an accessible fashion can pay dividends in the future.

8. To-Do Lists

To-do lists can be endless for some people, so I tend to think of this inspirational journal idea more in the “productivity journal” manner.

In my little journal habit, keeping to-do lists is epitomized by getting my hair cut. Every five to six weeks, I’m ready for a haircut (this time tends to get shorter as I get older). But lazy Josh doesn’t have the foresight to schedule a haircut on the day his prior haircut is finished. Instead, the to-do item is marked down in my journal and I can refer to the correct dates in that manner.

Obviously, keeping some sort of record of your productivity can provide great benefits. You can track when you’re most productive, when you’re least productive, or how long you can stay in the zone before needing to take a break. This is tremendously effective when addressing your self care. No matter your productive capacity, recording and analyzing the results can make you that much more efficient and productive.

9. Financial Journal

Keeping a financial journal can have a broad scope. Perhaps you’re an investor who likes to track opens, highs, lows, and closes. Or perhaps you have a financial bucket list. Or, if you’re keen to have those nostalgic conversations when you’re much older, you can track each time you received a wage increase (my grandfather tells me used to work for about a nickel an hour when he was a kid).

Financial journals can also record great (or bad) entrepreneurial ideas and track the growth of a business opportunity. Maybe one rendition of the idea doesn’t work in today’s current market, but, after a few iterations and discussions with a professional, the business idea becomes more feasible. Having a record of how you built out a business idea can make you a more skilled entrepreneur in the future.

10. Prayer Journal

It’s always good to leave the best for last.

Prayer journals can be powerful, no matter your walk or faith in life. You can use the journal as a source of meditation or to provide better structure to your thoughts and prayers. Then, in reflection, you can view your struggles and high points and learn going forward.

Day One is exceptional for keeping a prayer journal.

For one, you can dictate a journal entry if you find yourself in prayer during a time where you’re unable to type.

Secondly, you can create entries late at night without stirring awake the others in your bedroom. I often find my mind to be completely empty and free for prayer after waking in the middle of the night. If it’s the type of prayer to record, it’s simple to reach over, grab the iPhone, and type out what’s needed without turning on any lights.

Everyone is different. Some will choose to ignore this idea entirely, while others will prefer to keep their prayers in a more traditional format. No matter your preference, keeping a prayer journal can have a powerful effect in times of reflection.

Wrap Up

If you’re like me, the middle of the summer calls for a dust-off of the journal. I’d generally argue your time is better spent in the great outdoors, but keeping the journal habit flowing through the summer months can have lasting benefits.

In an ideal world, you don’t need any of the above ideas to get back into gear. Better yet, you have a plethora of other journal ideas to keep the inspiration flowing.

But for those like me who’ve had a harder time getting in front of a computer or typing out an entry on the iPhone, these ideas can get you back into the swing of things.


Why Multiple Journals Are Better

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.

3. Efficiency

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.

5. Growth

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.

Journaling Can Jumpstart Your Creativity

Journaling Can Jumpstart Your Creativity

Practicing creativity can be difficult, but keeping a journal is a great way to make creativity a daily habit.


As a writer and graphic designer, it’s a skill I consider integral to my work. Every day, I’m asked to create something that will inspire others to take action. If I’m not creating something, I’m not accomplishing anything.

If you’re not a writer or designer, don’t worry! Creativity is integral to your work as well. Beyond the world of artists, writers and musicians, creativity is solving problems, identifying patterns, and using information in new and unique ways. The most successful people I know are highly creative thinkers. These people also know that creativity takes practice.

Practicing creativity, however, is difficult. Often we’re expected to be creative and given no time to practice. This is where journaling can come in handy. I have found that when I keep a record of my thoughts, ideas, and experiences, I am more likely to apply my creative skills to my daily tasks.

Here are five ways keeping a journal has helped me improve my creativity:

1. Record your best ideas

“Keep in mind that ideas are generally fleeting and must be captured as they arise. Some will hang around and let you mull them over, but most are like a flash of lightning and need instant attention.” –Bill West, The Imagineering Workout

I know—this one seems obvious. What else are journals for? However, I’ve found huge creative value in keeping a record of things I’m thinking and doing. Often my best ideas come when I’m not able to act on them. There have been countless moments when I have sat down to write something and wasted most of my time trying to remember the idea I had in the shower that morning. Writing down inspiration when it strikes is the fastest way to build a library of your best ideas.

2. Practice thinking freely

“The best way to become a producer is to sit down every day and create. If you do that enough, you’ll consistently open yourself up to creating awe-inspiring work.” –Blake Powell

If creativity is the process of making connections and solving problems, a creative person should be used to thinking freely. Journaling is a great way to let your ideas flow unhindered. Whether that involves a daily dump of the day’s accomplishments, jotting down your dreams in the morning, or an evening creativity exercise, giving yourself time every day to think freely without any fear of judgement will improve your ability to generate ideas freely on a regular basis.

And, as a bonus, you might be able to add to your library of best ideas.

3. Refine your best ideas

“Just (make) something. It might be something crummy or awkward or not ready for prime time. If you make something, you are creative.” –Sonia Simone

Sometimes it’s easier to create ideas than it is to act on them. During my freshman year of college, I began writing recaps of college football games. These recaps were crude at best, but more than anything else, this weekly exercise in critiquing helped me learn how I write. I learned how to research a topic quickly, the importance of letting my thoughts collect, and the art of editing my writing. I found my writing voice by consistently expanding on one of my best ideas.

Like the exercise of letting your ideas flow, a journal can be a great place to practice a specific creative goal. Take one of your best ideas and flesh it out. Start setting goals to help you bring that idea to fruition. Recording your progress on a regular basis is a great way to remind yourself that you are a creative person.

4. Trigger your best ideas

“Creative refers to every single aspect of life, not only what you do, but how you do it, and how you think about the world.” –MK Haley, The Imagineering Workout

The greatest enemy of creativity is the dreaded rut. It’s very easy to get into a routine and forget the benefits of free thinking. Keeping a journal is incredibly useful when I’ve encountered these ruts. By keeping a log of what I do on a regular basis, I have a record of what might have gotten me into that rut. I also have a record of where I was and what I was doing when some of my best ideas arrived. I can analyze my routines and discover what got me into a particular rut or I can recreate a specific creative environment. Journaling helps me make creativity a process instead of a checklist.

5. Refill the tank

“The brain is like a muscle — sometimes it
needs to be relaxed.” –lazyguru

Creative thinking is hard work. Often, when I’m in a creative rut, I’ve found it’s because I need to take a break. You can only create something if you have the resources to make it. Just like a journal is useful for recording your best ideas, a journal is also useful for relaxing. Meditate on your experiences. Pick up a new hobby and document your progress. Take a vacation and keep a travelogue. The best creative thinkers know when to take a break. Keeping track of those breaks in your journal will make them more memorable and effective.

Creativity is waiting

These five tips are just a few ways that keeping a journal can improve your creative abilities. The most important piece of creativity is regular practice, and keeping a journal is a great way to ensure that practice happens. Start journaling, and make creativity a habit instead of a talent.

Journaling and Self Care

April 30th.

For Canadian accountants, it’s the worst day of the year. Every chicken comes home to roost. Every project is due. Every phone call is a must-answer. And, in all likelihood, the weather is beautiful outside.

For the most part, the eight weeks leading up to April 30th are no vacation either. Twelve to fifteen hour days are normal. You often walk into the office before the sun has risen and leave after the sun has set. There’s little time for anything other than number-crunching.

Now, nobody likes the person who brags about how busy they are or how hard they work. Everyone works hard — people need to work hard to make ends meet. Hard work is a necessity of life, for any and all people on this planet.

But there are those people who can deal with a high stress load and there are those who can’t. Some people work 12 hours at the office, maintain a stringent fitness regiment, run a hobby business, and volunteer in the evenings. Others spend half a day at the office and find their lives too busy to do much more. Neither of these two people are lazy. They just handle stress differently.

Those who handle stress well are, quite often, masters of self care.

“Self care” will mean different things to different people. For the basics, self care may sound like vacations, spa days, and maintaining physical health. Others may view self care as keeping your mind sharp by reading books, meeting new people, or having a creative hobby. Generally though, self care boils down to taking care of your body and mind to ensure stress doesn’t break you down.

Of all things that get swept under the rug during the high-octane eight-week tax season, self care ranks right at the top of the list. Fitness gets pushed aside. Healthy eating goes down the drain. Vacations are out of the question.

For this tax season, journaling became my ultimate form of self care. Near-daily reflection and written entries worked in many ways to ensure tax deadline day went off without a hitch, and those written entries will certainly work to form a backbone heading into future tax seasons.

Here’s how journaling kept my head screwed on straight over the last few months:

1. Pace

Every time the front door opens, a new project stares you straight in the face. For our office, each new client brought in a new financial situation, a new set of variables, and a new opportunity to create a lasting relationship. When this happens a hundred times a day, it becomes hard to ensure each project is given the attention it deserves.

In this light, journaling helped me understand how much I could get done in one day and how much I could plan to complete in my 10 to 12 hour day at the office. Even after a single week, reading through prior entries helped to point out the need for a mid-day mind break or mid-day walk. I learned I get more done when I head out to pick up lunch from a restaurant about 5 minutes away from the office. I learned I need to take 30 minutes at the beginning of the day to create a plan of attack and read the news.

In short, keeping a journal helped me to find my pace and stick to that pace for the grueling season. When the going got tough, it became easier to fall into a personal routine I had outlined in my journal and it became easier to know how much I could get done in a single day.

So while the work kept piling in, the anxiety of completing that work didn’t grow. Learning to keep a pace was the single most important factor of the eight week stretch and meant I wasn’t mentally broken down by the time the bell rang.

2. Prioritize

Knowing how much you can get done in a day is only as good as the deadlines that are set for you. When the clock strikes midnight and the work needs to be done, well, the work needs to be done.

When digging through my journal, I find a bunch of checklists — lists of plans, lists of steps to be taken, and lists of most important projects to be completed. The last set of lists became a guiding hand for each work day and work week. If something had an upcoming deadline, I put my nose to the grind stone on that project.

Prioritizing may seem like a pretty simple factor when it comes to your personal self care, but it can be the difference between being focused on a specific goal and being scatter-brained around many projects.

3. Controllables

Some variables you can control. Others you can’t. Journaling helps to highlight what you should focus on controlling and what you need to leave to others.
There’s enough worry to go around, so why bother worrying about what you can’t control?

That last part — “what you need to leave to others” — is an essential form of self care. Not only can you not save the world on your own, you can’t save the world in one day. Trusting others to complete their end of the work and trusting the course of life to complete the remaining variables leads to a less stressful outlook on your task at hand.

A healthy dose of reflection at the end of a working day can quickly highlight how your efforts impacted part of a project and where you wasted your time. This not only makes you more effective and efficient in your daily work, it also nails down how you do you.

What are you good at? Where are your efforts best utilized? What can you control that others can’t? To me, there’s no way to answer these questions aside from healthy end-of-day reflection each day.

4. Deferrals

This would be the exact opposite of “prioritize”. A bit of journaling and planning can go a long way to determining which cans can be kicked down the road and which ones can’t.

The kicker about deferring work down the road is the amount of work that inevitably doesn’t get done. And when work doesn’t get done, it’s, well, a lesser work load. If the need for self care arises from high stress and large work loads, deferring work and eliminating work can go a long way to maintaining sanity.

Where does journaling come in? I find end of day reflection can give great opportunities to discover activities you need to undertake and activities you don’t need to undertake. If the goal in life is to be the best you, then you need to learn about you before you can be the best you. Ted Williams always said he’d hit .400 every year if all he did was hit his pitch over and over. In order to determine what was “his” pitch, he had to study his habits after each at-bat.

If you want to hit .400, journaling is the best way to discover habits and trends and can give you insight on the pitches you need to hit and the pitches you need to leave alone.

5. Successes

Perhaps the most important factor of journaling, discovering your successes can lead to enormous personal satisfaction. At the end of a project, journaling which parts of the project went well and which parts you’d do differently can lead to a new, more efficient workflow the next time you run through a project. For each project you complete and reflect upon, the more efficient and effective you become.

But it can go a step further than that. One of the greatest stages of happiness hits through self-realization, or recognizing you succeeded upon goals you created in the past. Journaling those goals and looking through the process can greatly improve mental health and satisfaction.


There are always traps when partaking in a habit that doesn’t look like it has a direct impact on the work you’re doing.

  • Having your boss or manager looking over your shoulder can work to deter you from journaling. If it’s not work, it can’t be a good activity, and it’s easy to fall into the trap as a manager in assuming an employee is fooling around when they are merely reflecting on their work.
  • Not every hour of the day has to be productive. Perhaps I’m old-school, but I started off my working career with the assumption each day had to be a solid 8 hours of productive work. This, quite frankly, is next to impossible. Starting your day with reflection — either personal reflection or reflection on the news, media etc. — and ramping up your brain for the gruelling processes of the day can be just as productive as staring at a blank screen with a zombie-like mind.
  • Social media may be a place where personal reflection can take place, but there really is a time and place for it. Generally, social media works to undermine any confidence I have in myself or my beliefs, so I try to stay away as much as possible these days. Having a personal journal can act as a social media platform. Either way, social media can surely work against any gains you make in self care.
  • Saying “yes” can also destroy any momentum you have in keeping a balanced self care approach. I volunteer a lot, and I’m convinced the world doesn’t spin without volunteers. But just because volunteers are so important doesn’t mean you can save the world on your own. Pick your spots, and do what you can.

A Quick Summary

The best self care habits begin and end with the amount of activity, work, and stress you can handle. Any habit that works to improve your effectiveness in handling the right amount of activity, work, and stress, to me, would be a positive self care habit. And this is why journaling has become my number one self care habit through busy work stretches.

The world doesn’t revolve around you — this much is clear. But you can’t be the best you if you don’t take some time to focus on what makes you you.

Keeping a journal and reflecting on your thoughts and activities is a simple step for discovering what makes you you.

Five Ways to Use Day One as a Travel Journal

Blooming cherry blossoms in the spring can only mean one thing: travel season is just around the corner.

I would chalk up the travel bug as a cyclical symptom of too much snow, too little heat, and too heavy a workload. And as it stands, I’m not the only one who thinks this way: many Americans do their traveling during the summer and all Canadian high school trips I’ve heard of set sail in March or April.

Long story short, this is the time of year to come out of hibernation and explore the world.

If you’re like me, traveling has a fulfilling by-product — I find planning a trip to be nearly as much fun as the actual voyage. Planning flight destinations, train routes, hotel stays, and detailed itineraries ranks right up there with climbing the Eiffel Tower.

Well, maybe not quite. But you get my drift.

When my wife and I travel, there are generally three phases throughout the travel process: planning, traveling, and recording. Planning, as mentioned, allows your mind to dream and imagine. Travel — of course — provides the ultimate stimulation from new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. And having a way to relive even a moment of those exhilarating memories makes recording and journaling worth every minute.

If it wasn’t already clear, I keep all my travel planning and travel recording inside Day One. There is no piece of paper or piece of software that more perfectly encompasses a traveler’s needs. While many of the app’s features were likely built with everyday journaling in mind, they transition into a traveler’s workflow seamlessly.

Here are the five features that make Day One my go-to pick for travel planning and recording.

1. Thoughts, Plans, and Dreams

This one is obvious. Every trip starts off with an ounce of inspiration, be it a photograph, or a story, or an advertisement.

The moment you sense the inspiration, all sorts of images run through your head: sipping wine on the banks of the Arno in Florence, heading out on an Outback adventure, or walking the Great Wall of China. With Day One, it’s easy to clip and save where your inspiration came from.

But for me, it starts with tags. For each trip in my Day One, I have a dedicated tag. Last summer, my wife and I traveled to Europe for three weeks. I have a specific tag for that trip which has its first entry months before our first planning stages got underway, and that tag has entries that run right through to some photos I post today.

The first half of those entries are largely dedicated to planning: where we’ll be, when we’ll be there, and what we want to do. Planning and research can be done on your Mac at the kitchen table, while your itinerary can be quickly brought up and edited on your iPhone while you’re in the heat of the moment. And it’s more than just text — it’s easy to mark up a map in Preview and drop the marked-up map into Day One to view later.

The second half of the entries for my “Europe 2016” tag actually record our daily events during the trip. Throughout any trip, there are down times where you’re able to sit back, relax, and think about all you’ve experienced. For me, this occurs during train rides. Transportation between cities is a great time to whip out the Mac, iPhone, or iPad and record each day’s events.

As a whole, Day One is built to record thoughts, plans, lists, itineraries, and more, all whenever you need. It’s a natural place to store all your travel plans before you hop aboard the airplane, your thoughts when you’re riding the train, and the joys of returning home after a trip well spent.

2. Photos

As laughter is to a good joke, so too is photography to a good trip. They go hand in hand.

Naturally then, Day One’s photo features fit wonderfully within the travel realm. You can add multiple photos to a single entry and place them between text, leaving yourself a personal monologue to read in the future. Or, of course, photo-only posts can be added by simply adding a pre-shot photo from your camera roll or by starting a new entry and bringing up the camera.

But more so than photo entries is the collage of images you can view when you get home from your trip. On the Mac, clicking on the “Photos” tab brings up your entire collection of photo entries. Skimming through your photos is as simple as scrolling through your timeline. Dates are overlaid on the photo, and tapping or clicking on that photo will take you to the entry. It’s super simple.

An awesome side effect of the iPhone’s GPS is the fact each photo can be geotagged the moment its shot. So, at the end of a busy day, you can scroll through your camera roll, find a photo you like, send it to Day One, and Day One will automatically pick up the location of the photograph and add it to your journal entry map. This may be my favorite feature of the entire app. Over time, my Day One has slowly evolved into a large photo journal, complete with date stamps, locations, weather, activities, and even my step counts (more on all these in a bit).

3. Location Tracking

As I just mentioned, Day One does a wonderful job recording where you’ve been and when you’ve been there. It’s quick and easy to add an entry on the iPhone from anywhere in the world, and Day One can quickly pick up your location and add that to the entry map. There are paid services online allowing you to pinpoint all the different locations you’ve visited across the world. You can do this for free with Day One.

Day One goes one step further than simply geotagging your text and photo entries. If you’re busy and all you want to do is add to your personal travel map inside Day One, you can create a “location-only” journal entry with the app’s widget. Day One has a few widgets to track usage and your personal entry history, but my most used widget is the “Check In” widget. Simply swipe left on your home screen to your widget panel and click the big blue checkmark. Just like FourSquare, this checkmark checks you in to your current location and creates a location-only entry in your Day One. Open the app later and add any further thoughts if you wish. This is a wonderful addition to the app to ensure your entry map is always up-to-date.

Lastly, Day One logs into Dark Sky’s weather information API and brings up historical weather for any location-tagged entry. This is where the app goes above and beyond for travelers. By quickly tapping the checkmark in the check-in widget, you are not only logging your current location into an entry, you are also logging the current weather and your current activities all at once. So when you’re ready to read over and review your trip after you get home, you’ll find an up-to-date entry map filled with check-in entries as well as date and location-specific weather details. You know, just in case you forget the pouring rain you walked through in the heart of London.

4. Activity Tracking

Starting with the iPhone 5s, Apple introduced a motion-tracking coprocessor. Day One uses this functionality to add activity tracking to your journal entries. When editing a journal entry, you can simply click on the big “…” button above the keyboard to edit metadata for a specific entry. You’ll notice your step count is already added to that entry, as is your current altitude, location, weather, and even the music you were listening to when you created the entry.

One neat piece of metadata you can edit is the activity undertaken at the time of entry creation. Most Mac-created entries would have a “stationary” activity setting, but you can have anything from walking, biking, running, and eating, to automotive, flying, and train activities.

I like to pull out my MacBook when sitting on a train to record recent events. Every time I’ve done this, I use “train” for my activity. I wrote some thoughts both on the flight over to London, England, as well as on the flight back from Athens. For these entries, I use the “flying” activity.

This would be even more powerful for frequent travelers and frequent flyers. If you’re constantly on the move or on the road, Day One’s activity tracking could prove essential to remembering exactly what you were doing when a brilliant idea struck you, or when you drove past an incredible view.

5. Activity Feed

The Activity Feed is Day One’s all-encompassing killer travel feature, made for those people who aren’t able to journal on the spot and prefer to journal at the end of the day after they’ve enjoyed the day’s events.

Activity Feed tracks a whole range of your activities, social networks, photographs, locations — you name it, Activity Feed can track it. Once permission is given, Day One can track your location at all times and remind you at a later point in time to create a journal entry for when you arrived at a new location. It can also track social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare — each time you tweet or share a new photo, Day One picks up the information and you can create a journal entry right off of the tweet. Same goes for new photos found in your camera roll.

This is powerful for travelers. If you traveled to multiple scenic locations in a given day, you can return to the Activity Feed at the end of the day before bed and create entries as though you had created those entries on the spot. So, instead of remembering to use the iOS “Check In” widget to mark each of your locations throughout the day, you can simply add your entries in at the very end of the day when you’re resting after a busy day.

Activity Feed could be the mic drop for prolific travel journalers. It’s the difference between being in the moment now and worrying about recording each minute to read in your journal later on. Thanks to Activity Feed, you can always journal later on when the timing is better.

Traveling could be the one financial investment where you never receive dividends or interest payments. Instead, you receive a wealth of a different sort — an intangible set of memories unique to you and you alone.

So, go on! Travel to a far-off location. Breathe in the foreign smells. Taste the unique food. Take pictures of the sights, people, and life in another land. But, most of all, be in the moment — enjoy your time. Then, when your day is done, reflect upon and relive these moments as you record them in Day One. Years from now, those captured memories will be the best souvenirs.

About the Author

Josh GinterJosh Ginter is a freelance writer, amateur photographer, and studying accountant. He writes about photography, travel, and other cool things at The Newsprint

Some Tips for Developing a Journal Habit

I was talking to a friend recently who expressed a desire to start a journal. He mentioned how he always finds a way to start a journal, but has never developed the ability to keep a journal.

This is, undoubtedly, a common phenomenon. While starting a journaling habit is easy, maintaining the habit through the grind is difficult.

Getting through that grind is rewarding and healthy. And, it turns out, has a correlation with greatness.

Michael Balchan says it best:

Great people journal. It’s as simple as that. While I’m not aware of any study explicitly comparing keeping a journal with becoming great, it’s tough not to see the correlation. Consider some of the people who did both: Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Winston Churchill, C.S. Lewis, Sir Edmond Hilary, Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Reagan, Truman… the list continues. Clearly there is something to be said for the power of the practice.

For starters, being forced to explore thoughts well enough to put them into words is a tremendous way to discover who we are. “In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person; I create myself,” states author Susan Sontag. “The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood.”

Keeping a journal is something we all want to do.

So how do you do it?


I’m by no means an expert. I began journaling in 2011 and went through a dry spell of my own in 2015. I’ve since returned to the habit, but not without outlining a few necessities along the way.

Step 1: Define “Journaling”

One of those necessities: altering — or perhaps recognizing — the real definition of “journaling.” Many people associate “journaling” with penning complete thoughts into a pen-and-paper diary. However, “journaling” is really just a synonym for “recording.” You can record thoughts, sure, but you can also record a daily log of events, or fitness regiments, or what you ate for breakfast.

By accepting a broader scope of the word “journaling,” it’s easier to stay positive through the daily journal grind. By recognizing that “journaling” can mean more than writing your thoughts, you give yourself more chances to succeed. This is fundamental to developing a journaling habit.

Step 2: Create Multiple Journals

My second tip: create multiple journals that can be combined into your great big “aggregate journal.” Not only does this method help create consistency across different segments of your journal, but it also helps you understand that a journal doesn’t have to be written every day to be a habit. If you write a few small things in at least one of them each day, you’ll have a daily aggregate journal in the end.


Let’s say you are planning a camping trip and you have a “Thoughts” journal, a “Photos” journal, and a “Travel” journal. On the first day, you write your camping trip plans into your travel journal. The next day, you snap a photo of the loaded vehicle and place that in your photos journal. The third day, you mark your location at a scenic view in your travel journal. And on the fourth day, you write a few bullet points on the highs and lows of your trip in your thoughts journal.

Combined, you have an aggregate journal of your trip. Instead of forcing yourself to write in your “Thoughts” journal each evening, placing smaller entries within each specific journal makes it easier to stay daily and active in your journaling habit.

How do you create multiple journals? Here are a few things I’ve gone through when creating my aggregate journal:

1. Purpose:

I mean that word. It needs to be necessary to start a journal. If you merely want to journal, it’ll become too easy to pass on writing thoughts or recording your time when you get into that journaling grind. Instead of wanting to record and track, the key is to need to journal. The key is to have a purpose.

Start by finding that purpose. I need to track the number of push-ups and sit-ups each morning to ensure I’m keeping with and growing my fitness levels. When I began, I needed a baseline to start my recording, so I threw a breakdown of the information into Day One.

While you could track time in a time-tracking app, you could also throw your daily time logs into your journal. Many occupations require a breakdown of time spent working on a project. If these types of information are added into your aggregate journal, you’ll have a daily breakdown of your work and activities.

2. Specific:

In the same light as finding purpose for a journal, maintaining a specific scope for a journal is also important. If you have a movie review journal, it might be odd to throw a book review into the fold. Instead, create a new journal that only has book reviews.

Specific journals help you stay focused on what fits in one of your journals and what you can take a break on. I think this is incredibly important — if you stress about missing a chance to record something, specify your scope and don’t record something unless it fits. I have a compulsive need for consistency and completion, so maintaining a specific scope helps eliminate unnecessary journal entries that can bog me down at the end of the day.

3. Routine:

This revolves around incorporating a recording or journaling time into your daily routines.

I maintain a work log journal, where I try to keep track of my activities on the job and how much time I put into them. Each time I change an activity, I reach over to my computer and input the change into my daily work log. It takes two seconds, and at the end of the day, I have a fully formed daily breakdown.


You could take 30 seconds after your workout and record your statistics for the day, or each time you finish a project you record how the project went. I call this a “trigger,” or a signal to jump out of the current thought process and into your journal for a quick second. If it’s fine to listen to your Apple Watch to get up from your chair and stand for a moment, it’s fine to put a few recording moments sprinkled around in your daily routine.

4. Tools:

This is a fun one which should probably be applied to any habit you’re trying to create. If you get through the routine mundaneness of recording and cataloging, and if you go the extra mile to make it a routine, you may as well undertake your habit in the most stylish way possible. Using high quality tools to get the job done is just as rewarding as finishing the job itself.


While I use Day One on my iPhone and Mac to record my daily work log, fitness log, and other thoughts, I also keep two other journals in different formats. I use a Hobonichi Techo to record my overall daily events, such as times I woke, tasks I completed in the evening, or trips I took to the city for work. The Techo comes with world famous Tomoe River paper — the smoothest, thinnest, you’ve-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it paper imaginable. Inside, I like to use fountain pens to record and catalog, such as the Pilot Vanishing Point and Lamy 2000.

You can also use Field Notes, but that’s a rabbit hole for another day.

In short, creating a journal and recording your life is best done with the help of high quality tools and accessories. There’s nothing more soothing than sitting down and scratching out a few thoughts with a fountain pen. Just like there’s nothing better than using high quality software on all your digital platforms.

Step 3: Review

This could very well be the most important aspect of developing a journal habit. If you don’t return to review and read through the fruits of your labor, you’ll never understand the end goal.

What’s the point of writing your thoughts the day before your wedding if not to read them five or ten years down the road? Why log your working day if not to return and see how much time you spent on a given project?

My friend Shawn Blanc talks about this reward in a roundabout way:

One of the greatest ways to recognize our progress is to celebrate all victories — big and small. And one of the best ways to celebrate and chronicle the small victories is with our own daily journal.

We often forget about our small wins after a few days or weeks. Or they quickly get buried under our never ending to-do lists. Or, if we don’t recognize and celebrate them, then they stop being “small wins” and start just being “what we should be doing anyway.”

By cataloging and celebrating our small wins each day then we can be reminded that we are making meaningful progress. And, in truth, it’s the small wins which all add up to actually complete the big projects and big goals.

Cataloging and recording is one way to recognize the work it took to create a journaling habit, and returning to your work to review is of equal value. After all, recognizing and celebrating personal growth is why we journal in the first place.

Wrap Up

As mentioned from the onset, I can’t get on my soapbox and proclaim a remedy for “non-journal-itis.” Journaling is surely a difficult habit to create and maintain and it takes focus to keep the momentum. You might think creating multiple journals to narrow the scope of your entries is a fools errand, or you might want to keep everything digital or entirely analog. Either way, I hope a few of these tips, which I’ve found handy in the past, will work to your advantage as well.


Above all things though, remember to enjoy the process. You don’t owe it to anyone to record your life — you don’t even owe it to yourself. It’s an enjoyable habit to get into. It provides introspection, self-realization, and inner dedication. Honing these skills pays dividends far beyond your knowledge of yourself as a person.

And it never hurts to have the material to read to your grandkids one day.

About the Author

Josh GinterJosh Ginter is a freelance writer, amateur photographer, and studying accountant. He writes about photography, travel, and other cool things at The Newsprint

Five Ways to Automate Your Day One Journal with TextExpander


If you’re anything like me, you have a compulsive need to maintain consistency and uniformity in your everyday life. Be it perfect punctuation and Markdown formatting when jotting down quick notes or having consistent filenames in Finder, I am constantly striving for some sort of organizational utopia within my Mac.

This couldn’t be more true for my personal journal. If I start a journaling practice — say, reviewing movies or TV shows — I have to review every movie I watch, or I have to review none of them. And within each review, I won’t stop before every single review has been edited and formatted in the same manner.

This is quite ridiculous. I’m the first to admit it.

Whatever my ailment, my journal needs structure to be effective. To maintain this structure, I rely on workflows, snippets, and short-form quizzes — actions that are quick, easy, and efficient so I can get back to what I was doing.

In my experience, the best apps for creating workflows, snippets, and quick forms are (in no particular order) TextExpander (iOS/Mac), Workflow, and Launch Center Pro. These three apps make short work of the mundane formatting and consistency I strive for in each Day One journal entry.

Exploring all three in the same post would be particularly overwhelming, just like a Google search of “Day One workflows” or “Day One snippets”. Today, we’ll take a look at TextExpander.


If not for TextExpander, I’d go crazy. It has singlehandedly saved me more time than all other applications combined. From short HTML snippets, to predefined Markdown tables, to affiliate tags, TextExpander is the king of text automation.

For the uninitiated, TextExpander uses customizable keystrokes to expand large amounts of text. Say you need to provide your contact info at the end of an email. Create a snippet such as ;contact and all of your contact information will hit the page. For mundane tasks like creating Markdown tables or for adding affiliate tags to the end of a link, TextExpander reigns supreme.

With TextExpander’s potential in mind, the app becomes a natural fit for creating consistency, structure, and organization inside Day One. I have a plethora of quick Day One-specific snippets to help track fitness, time, reviews, and other personal bits of information I’ll want to draw on again in the future.

Here are five ways (and then some) to use TextExpander to make short work of journal templates in Day One.

1. Professional Journal

Katie Floyd developed this handy TextExpander/Day One template for her professional work. Both Katie and her Mac Power Users podcast co-host David Sparks are attorneys, making professional work tracking one of her specialities.

With a few quick keystrokes, Katie’s TextExpander snippets create professional logs to track phone calls, client consultations, conferences, and meetings. These snippets make short work of consistency and uniformity in her work journal, and also allow for quick searching and tracking.

2. Time Tracking

In conjunction with the snippets created by Katie above, I went ahead and created my own time-tracking TextExpander snippets. I work as a junior accountant by day, so time-tracking becomes fairly prevalent when working on different year-ends and tax work. Of course, these snippets could be used in any profession where time-tracking is necessary.


I use two TextExpander snippets to create Markdown tables in a specific “Work” journal in Day One. The first pre-populates the header information, such as the date of the time-tracking log and the first line of the Markdown table. It also creates a small section at the bottom of the template slated for daily notes — if a client comes to the office and needs to see my boss, I leave a little note to remind my boss when he returns. The second snippet is used to continue populating the Markdown table as the day progresses.

The final output looks something like this:


It may not be the most sophisticated time-tracking tool in the world, but this TextExpander shortcut allows me to properly format a table in Day One for each day of work. Tracking the number of hours I dedicate to a specific task is a breeze, and searching for a specific date or project to answer a question is far faster than any analog method.

Other Ideas For This Snippet

  1. Time-tracking for app development
  2. Event-tracking for experiments and/or lab work
  3. Step-by-step recipe creation (these are particularly useful in our household)

3. Book/Film/Comic Reviews

I mentioned Katie Floyd’s partner-in-crime David Sparks in the above section, and David is responsible for creating his own unique TextExpander snippets for use in Day One.

TextExpander - Screenshot 7

In short, these TextExpander snippets create predefined forms to fill out after watching a movie, reading a book, or enjoying a comic book. I’m particularly fond of the movie review form, but heavier readers will surely find the book and comic review forms useful. If I do my due diligence, I can fill out one of these movie review forms while sitting through the credits at the theatre.1

TextExpander - Screenshot 6a

The movie review form asks for a title, director, rating, notable actors and actresses, your favorite line, and an overall review. I added some Markdown formatting syntax to David’s TextExpander snippet personally, but his snippets are ready to go out-of-the-box.

Other Ideas For These Snippets

  1. Restaurant reviews
  2. Wine and beer reviews
  3. Hotel reviews

4. The Five Minute Journal

The Five Minute Journal was originally founded as an analog journal by Alex and Mimi Ikonn. It’s a simple notebook designed to ask you quick, creativity-spurring questions to both get your day started on the right side of the bed and to end your day on the right foot. The Five Minute Journal has become incredibly popular, with support from many productivity wizards across the world.

TextExpander - Screenshot 4

Created by Chuck Grimmett, these TextExpander snippets are designed to replicate The Five Minute Journal in your Day One. Chuck describes how he starts his day with a quick ;5am keystroke to bring up the first three questions for the day. He then uses the ;5pm keystroke in the evening to fill out the end-of-day questions.


If you’re more interested in keeping a digital version of the Five Minute Journal, Chuck’s TextExpander snippets should fill the void perfectly.

5. Mood Form

I found this unique TextExpander/Day One snippet by way of Bakari Chavanu, a contributor for the site Make Us Of. In the article, Bakari goes through ways to use TextExpander to automate your Mac. Near the end, Bakari shows off one of the more unique snippets I’ve seen for Day One.

TextExpander - Screenshot 5

Bakari uses a TextExpander snippet to create a mood form for some of his Day One entries. It’s a very short dropdown menu with a list of predefined moods, of which he chooses his current state of mind. Bakari’s mood form — and other forms of this type — are best used with Day One’s reminders feature, ensuring the form is filled out consistently at specific intervals of time.

This short dropdown menu is perfect for keeping any analysis or personal introspection consistent and defined to a specific scope. If you are looking to find statistics on your moods, thoughts, feelings, or daily activities, dropdown menu snippets like Bakari’s can provide valuable data for your analysis.

Other Ideas For This Snippet

  1. Activity form
  2. Water drinking form
  3. Sleep tracking form


This is but a tiny list of the potential between TextExpander and Day One. I use most of these TextExpander snippets myself and appreciate the level of consistency brought to my Day One, but even writing this article feels like I’m just dipping my toe into the water. The opportunities to automate your Day One journal are endless, especially with TextExpander.

Of course, these snippets can be used within Day One on iOS as well. Snippets like the movie review snippet are best executed shortly after watching a film, so if you have your iPhone on you while you wait for the after-credits Marvel scene, you can quickly hammer out your review on the spot.

If you have your own unique TextExpander snippets, be sure to get in touch with us so we can update our list of TextExpander, Workflow, and Launch Center Pro templates.

About the Author

Josh GinterJosh Ginter is a freelance writer, amateur photographer, and studying accountant. He writes about photography, travel, and other cool things at The Newsprint

  1. Presumably, I do this on my iPhone. And in order to use fillable text snippets, you’ll need to be a paid subscriber to the newest version of TextExpander and have the latest version of the iOS app installed on your iPhone. I have TextExpander 3 installed, so fillable forms just result in blank text placeholders that I need to work through and change. This is still better than nothing, but will surely be a better experience for any subscribing TextExpander users. 

10 Questions to Capture the Year in Your Journal

Click to create an entry in Day One:
New Year’s Questions

There’s always a certain degree of anticipation—an excitement in the air—for the turn of the calendar at the end of the year. It’s impossible to look at January 1st and not think about the chance for a fresh start.

By the same token, December 31st offers a tremendous opportunity to reflect. Undertaking a level of introspection—reflecting on the prior year’s accomplishments, failures, surprises, and expectations and how they are currently affecting you—is tremendously powerful. No matter who you are, it’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from.

There’s no better way to undergo this year-end personal review than by recording it in a journal.

Year-end journaling is a gigantic work-in-progress. I began keeping a journal in 2011 and have kept fairly solid records of my life experiences ever since. But in the grand scheme of things, it takes far longer than five years to look back on your recordings and find appreciation in your own growth. Some people may appreciate self reflections mere months later, but I’ve found that a lifelong learning process is easier to witness in lengthier segments.

A good way to start is a half-hour session in the last few weeks of December. Sit down, brew a cup of coffee, open Day One, and just write. If you can just sit down, you’ve already overcome the most difficult part of this process.

What should you write about? What questions should you ask yourself? Here is a list of 10 questions to contemplate and answer at the end of the year.

(Remember: It doesn’t matter how detailed your answer or how specific your thoughts. The most important part is opening yourself up and writing a letter to your older, wiser, smarter self. Just get started.)

1. What was your favorite single day/event of the year?

Close your eyes and think about all that’s happened in the last 12 months. What’s the first thing that pops into your head that puts a smile on your face? Whatever the event, start off this introspection with a dose of positivity. It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

2. What was the best thing you built/created?

More often than not, building and creating is a lengthy process. It starts with an idea and grows from there. But finishing a project is the most rewarding part. It takes guts to complete what you started, and the reward is usually worth the process.

We’re all builders in some way. What did you create this year?

3. What was the most impactful decision you made for you and your family’s future?

This might be a more difficult question to answer. It could also be worded as “Did I/we do something that will have a lasting effect on our family’s lives?” Things like moving to a new neighbourhood, going on a family vacation and experiencing a new culture, or investing in your or your child’s education might be potential answers.

By answering this question, you can bridge the prior year’s events with future year’s experiences. And, down the road, this answer will be interesting to look at to measure the impact of past decisions.

4. What was your best financial achievement?

Although success and achievement are often measured in non-monetary terms, it’s helpful to look back at the last year and reflect on your financial decisions as well. Did you buy your first home? Did you take the plunge and enter retirement? Did you pay off a loan hanging over your head? Or did you reach your savings goal and go on a vacation in the middle of winter?

We all have different financials goals, success, and struggles. Reflecting on them is fundamental to fulfilling future goals.

5. Did you achieve any lifelong goals?

Crossing items off your bucket list is incredibly rewarding. Perhaps you bought your dream vehicle, or drummed up the nerve to skydive out the back of an airplane. Maybe you visited a new country or met your favorite athlete. Or maybe you graduated from an education program.

This question is particularly fun. Bucket lists can feel endless, but checking off an item or two each year usually means you’re not just existing but living.

6. What was the hardest lesson you learned over the past year?

Making mistakes is easy. Admitting them and learning from them is incredibly hard. Which is why reflecting on your mistakes a few months later can often help in the overall learning process.

Experts say the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. So, if you’ve learned a hard lesson this year, perhaps consider helping someone else overcome what you struggled with.

7. Did you develop any new hobbies or passions? Are there any new hobbies or passions you want to develop in the New Year?

The daily grind can take its toll, so having hobbies is a perfectly healthy way to turn your mind off. Some people collect stamps or coins. Others shoot photographs. Others like to go skiing, snowboarding, or surfing. Still others like to craft, scrapbook, or play the piano.

If you don’t have any specific hobbies, perhaps you want to jump into one for the coming year. Write down what you’d like to do in the new year.

8. What was the most humbling experience of the past year?

This can be related to question #6 above, but it can also be taken a step further. Sometimes the worst happens and it serves to remind you of your humanity. Maybe you lost your job, or you got into a fight with someone you care about, or maybe you lost a loved one. These are hard conversations to have, but clarifying your thoughts on these events over time can have a lasting impact on how well you know yourself.

Perhaps more importantly, what did you learn from this humbling experience?

9. What is the one thing you are most grateful for from this past year?

This is my favorite question on this list. It’s difficult to show your gratefulness to others when life flies by at top speed, so these quieter moments of reflection offer a chance to recognize the gifts around you. I’m particularly grateful for my wife, for a fulfilling career, for hobbies that let my mind be creative, and for the opportunity to learn from friends.

Your list will surely be unique to you and your life. Take the time to make it. The people and gifts around us deserve proper reflection at the end of the year.

10. What are your personal goals for the coming year? Family goals? Religious goals? Health goals? Financial or career goals?

Finally, if you’re tired of reflecting on the year that was, then it’s time to dream about the year that will be. Of all the goals on this list, this might be the easiest to measure on an annual basis. Do you want to check another item off your bucket list? Do you want to attend your child’s high school graduation? Do you want to start a family? Perhaps get married?

No dream is too big or too small. Set one goal. Five goals. Ten goals. Make some that are easily achievable, others that are harder, and still others that may seem impossible today.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of year-end journal questions. Rather, we’re hoping this gets your introspective juices flowing.

There’s a lot of value in returning to these questions midway through the year. See your progress on current year goals. See if decisions from the prior year had a lasting impact on you or your family. Take time to appreciate personal achievements a second (or third) time.

At the conclusion of this year, we hope these questions give you a chance to reflect upon and appreciate the past, and look forward to the new year ahead.

Click to create an entry in Day One:
New Year’s Questions

About the Author

Josh GinterJosh Ginter is a freelance writer, amateur photographer, and studying accountant. He writes about photography, travel, and other cool things at The Newsprint

Day Evaluations

Journaling. I never had a journal in my life. I never wrote down anything from my ‘childhood’ days nor did I really keep anything. Perhaps I was too engrossed in the present moment to care about writing things down about my life and experiences, perhaps I was just lazy and didn’t want to spend time on that. I don’t really regret not having written anything as there is no reason to regret anything but now that I think of it, it sure would be nice to have something from the past. To see actual physical evidence of what I was thinking and going through at the time and not having to rely on memory for these things. One might ask, why would you even want to remember the past and keep anything from it, what is past is past. It is gone. Why not focus on the present moment and think of the future? I can only answer that question for myself.

It started with a present. A cube calendar. It was a cube with little cards that had days written on them that one can tear off after the day has passed. It also had motivating and life quotes on some of the cards. It looked great. I didn’t think much of the present although I was incredibly happy that I had been gifted such a thing. So days passed. Cards were torn off. After a while of seeing these cards being thrown away and my cube slowly shrinking I thought to myself why not get some use of these cards. I decided to write something memorable that has happened to me on this day on the back of these little cards. The space on the cards was small but it was perfect for the task. I thought it was a great idea. I wrote all the memorable things that have happened to me during the day and put the ‘used’ cards in a box. Even the days that didn’t have anything ‘remarkable’ happen, still had my ink on them. This was in Winter of 2015. Fast forward 8 months and I have this little joyous stack of little cards stored in a box in my room :

With time I actually grew a kind of love for writing on these cards. I realised that not all days are equal. Some days you try and fit everything you can in the space of this little card. Some days you have a sentence and you are trying to think what more can I write about this day. With time the collection of cards grew and I could play games. I can pick a random card from the pile and try and recollect what happened to me on this day.

But this was just the beginning of my little experiment with recording my day’s memorable experiences. During my time of writing these cards, I have found out about a little great app called Day One. This app back then was a simple digital journal. It had a simple design and a simple premise. There were entries that you could write in, each entry could contain text and one photograph. It also had tags. I really love well made tools and applications that in the spirit of unix do one thing and do it well, this was one of these tools.

I thought about the idea of having this digital journal of things. What if I could write my cards in the app instead? Of course it would kill the novelty of writing things on physical cards with actual ink but what about the great benefits of having things be written in this digital format? There would be no boundaries of how much and how little I can write. I would have the power of search at my disposal. If I wanted to read my writings from some past day, I didn’t have to pick out through all the cards to pick out the card I needed. I could be able to write my cards anywhere now given that my laptop and also my phone is always with me. I could also read them from anywhere. What more, now my recordings from the day are not only constrained by language but I could add a photograph. As they say, a photograph is worth a thousand words and I am all for writing less and remembering more. The choice of a digital journal evolution was obvious plus my little cube was growing smaller and smaller with each day.

I also had an idea. A way to extend my writing to take advantage of this new and exciting digital format. I thought and came up with two things that I wanted to include in my newly digitally written entries :

  1. What have I learned this day?
  2. What memorable things that have happened to me?

I thought those two to be the most important things I would love to capture from my day. I try and learn new things every day so why not write them down? The process of writing things down helps to cement the newly learned ideas in your head. After all, you do have to write it out in your own words. The second point was essentially the continuation of my ‘cube’ legacy. Wow. I have just created a systematic way to journal. I had a template with two simple questions that I could answer. I love little systems like this. What about giving them a name? After some time I concluded that these entries are essentially evaluations of my day so why not give them an appropriate name. Day Evaluations.

One problem that this newly created template brings is that I would then need to write the two questions every time and only then try and answer them. Wouldn’t it be great to have the template be ready for me with every new entry I write? Well I had a little utility named Typinator just for that. It allowed me to make expansions of whatever text I wanted to write. All I needed to do was create my expansion :

And use it :

No longer bounded by space of a little card. I was free to write what I wanted and how I wanted. This was September 2015. Fast forward to July and I now have 370 entries.

I have 370 days documented and remembered. I know what I did in every single one of of these days. I have evolved my writing to include photographs, some entries having more than one of them. I have made use of the great tagging system and I have started giving my days ratings on a scale of 0 to 10. I have never went below a 5 yet and my most occurring rating was a 7.

My writing has evolved and I have evolved with it. Writing in this journal and making these day evaluations was one of the best decisions and habits I have formed. It is an incredible feeling knowing that my life and most of my memories are accessible within a minute’s time. Memory is a strange thing, all needs is a trigger, a way to bounce off something to form a coherent picture. I now had that ‘something’.

With inclusion of Day One’s multiple journals, I now have a journal for documenting my travelling adventures. I have a journal for ‘lessons learned’ where I lay down little personal lessons I have learned over my life. Perhaps I have bought something I didn’t need or hurt someone and didn’t apologise. I write it down and record it. I started writing in a dream journal where I write down the dreams I remember thus improving my recall and eventually having lucid dreams. A human spends 26 years of his life unconscious and sleeping, isn’t it great to use that time to fly or explore the inner working of your own subconsciousness?

Perhaps you too have a journal that you are already writing in. If so, great. I would love to hear from you and how do you approach writing in it? Perhaps you too have a personal system. And if not, I hope I could convince you how having a digital recollection of your memories can be an incredibly empowering feeling and an incredible asset to one’s life.

About the Author

Nikita Voloboev (@nikitavoloboev) is a computer scientist, writer, and an aspiring web developer.

Day One Tips & Tutorials Now on YouTube

Since Fall 2015, you may have noticed that we’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from adding content to the Day One Blog. Around that time, we were deeply head’s down as a team, focused on delivering Day One 2.0. We’re now ready to dust off the cobwebs and get crackin’ on some new blog content.

We’ve added a new video to our YouTube channel and created a Tips & Tutorials playlist. Check out our first video tutorial below…

If you’d like to request specific topics for future videos, or just want to reach out to us for any other reason, please contact our support team.

Thanks for capturing your life with Day One!

macOS’s Share Extension and Day One Mac

Screenshot of Day One

One of the great new features in Mac OS X Yosemite is support for share extensions. With share extensions, any app supporting the OS X system share menu can be used to share content with apps that created a share extension. In Day One Mac 1.10, you can use OS X’s share menu to post content to Day One from Finder, Photos, Safari, and more.

Enabling the Day One Share Extension

Extension Preferences

Follow these steps to enable the Day One Share Extension:

  1. Go to OS X Preferences > Extensions > Share Menu.
  2. Find Day One listed in the right-hand pane.
  3. Click the checkbox to enable the Day One share extension.
  4. Click and drag Day One to move it to the top of the list. This will make Day One the first item in app share menus.


Here’s a walkthrough for using the Day One share extension in Photos:

  1. Open Photos.
    Preferences in Photos.
  2. Go to Preferences > General and click the checkbox next to Metadata. This will enable location information to be included with published items.
  3. Find and select a photo you’d like to add to Day One.
  4. Open the share menu by either clicking the share icon on the right-side of the menu bar or by control-clicking your photo.
    Share menu in Photos.
  5. Click Day One in the share menu to open the Day One share sheet. (If you don’t see Day One, click More….)
    Day One Share Sheet
  6. Add any additional entry text, then click Add to Day One. (If available, your photo’s time, date, and location are used for the entry’s metadata.)
  7. Open Day One and go to the date of the photo to see your new entry.
    Day One photographic entry.


To use the Day One share extension with Safari, do the following:

  1. Open Safari.
  2. Select some content you’d like in a Day One journal entry.
    Share Menu in Safari
  3. Click the Share icon to open the share menu.
  4. Click Day One in the share menu to open the Day One share sheet.
    Day One Share Sheet
  5. The share sheet is pre-populated with the webpage’s title and URL, along with any text you may have selected (with blockquote markdown automatically prepended to your selected text). Add any additional text or revisions you’d like to make, then click the Add to Day One button to post to Day One.
  6. You’ve successfully added a new entry from Safari to Day One using the share extension. Congrats!
    Entry in Day One.

Finder and other apps

Similar to Photos and Safari, you can use the share menu to post content to Day One with Finder and other apps. Simply control-click the item you wish to post, then follow the steps as outlined above.

We hope that this new feature will make it easier for you to record life as you use your Mac.

Keep on journaling!

About the Author

Dallas Petersen is Day One’s product manager by day (and some nights). When he’s not working, he’s hanging out with his wife and five kids and/or playing board games.

Use Share Extensions to Enhance Your Day One Photo Entries


Apple brought a lot of great improvements with iOS 8. This tip focuses on one feature of iOS 8—the share extension—and how it can help you enhance your photographic entries in Day One using collages, filters, and typography.

Layout from Instagram

There are many apps that can help you create a photographic collage for Day One entries. Layout from Instagram is a recent, superb example.


Instagram Layout

Follow these steps to create your own collage and post it to Day One within the Layout app:

  1. Download Layout from Instagram and create your collage.
  2. Once you’ve completed your collage, tap the “More” button to see additional sharing options.
  3. If you’ve never used Day One for sharing before, you’ll need to swipe the top row of icons and tap the white “More” button.
  4. Find Day One in this list and toggle it on. If you want it to be the first app to appear next time you use iOS 8’s share extension, drag it to the top of the list. Tap the “Done” button.
  5. Swipe the first row of app icons to find Day One, then tap the Day One icon to open the share sheet.
  6. Type some entry text, then tap the “Post” button.
  7. Open Day One and find your newly added entry. If you like, you can edit this entry and change its date, time, and location to match the photos in your collage, as well as add more text to your entry.
  8. Voila! The finished entry with a fancy collage photo on top.

Though the details of using various apps will differ, the process of using the share extension explained above is the same. The most important requirement is that the app supports iOS 8’s native share functionality. (If your favorite apps don’t support this functionality, ask for it… politely.)

Filters for iPhone

Filters is an app recently released by Mike Rundle. It’s focus on photographic filters goes deep, but hides that complexity behind an elegant, easy-to-use interface.


Over earns its designation as an App Store “Essentials” app. It’s easy to spiff up your photos with text and art, then share them to Day One. Check it out.

Fuzel Collage

Last, but not least, Fuzel Collage has the most features of any of these apps. It is an excellent all-in-one app that includes the features of the previous apps—collages, photographic filters, and typographic labels—and a few more—frames, stickers, and background fill colors/patterns. This is a great app.


About the Author

Dallas Petersen is Day One’s product manager by day (and some nights). When he’s not working, he’s hanging out with his wife and five kids and/or playing board games.

Using Day One to Record and Enrich Your Life

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of Starting From Day One by Bakari Chavanu.

Another useful way to use your journal is to regularly revisit past journal entries. If we are diligent journal keepers–constantly writing and reflecting on the challenges we face in life–we get to reread our journal entries months and years later, and revisit happy, positive experiences, and how we made it through troubled waters. We are reminded of friends and family members, those we laughed with, told jokes and secrets to, what surprises we received, and what failures we endured.

To get in the habit of revisiting journal entries, you might either star entries especially for revisiting later or tagging entries with the keyword, “revisit.” You might also mark dates on your calendar to revisit particular journal entries, such birthday entries, deaths in your family, etc..

The following are some ideas for journal entries you might revisit:

Bucket Lists: Since most items on a bucket list may take months or even years to complete, revisiting your list will remind you to turn an item into an actual goal and make a plan to achieve it.

Rate of Areas of Growth: Write a journal entry in which you rate areas of your life (e.g., family, health, well-being, career and finances, social life, and self-exploration) on a scale of 1-10. Write a reflection of about your ratings, and maybe mark one or two areas you want to improve on. Tag the entry so you can easily locate it. Set a calendar alert, including the listed areas, to rerate the list each year, and then compare your ratings to the previous year’s list. This growth list is based on a prompt from Rossi Fox’s 365 Journal Writing Ideas.

Yearly Accomplishments: Each year on your birthday, write a list of goals you would like to accomplishment for the year. Revisit previous previous birthday journal entries, and write a praise letter for what you accomplished, no matter how small the accomplishments.

Projects and Goals: Keep journal entries about the progress you’re making on a goal or project. Revisit those entries to remind yourself of how you accomplished a goal, or why you had to let it go. This is like using your journal as a personal instructional manual.

Birthday Letters: Write an unsent letter to your kids or spouse on their birthday. Revisit those letters each year, and reflect on your relationship with your family members.

Career Accomplishments: Keep a list of career accomplishments in your journal, and use the list for when developing a resumé.

Writing Topics: Search or browse your journal for entries that might be a springboard for a short story, memoir pieces, or blog posts.

Starting From Day One by Bakari Chavanu.

Learn more.

Family and Personal History with Day One

The majority of the time I use Day One, it follows a scenario kind of like this: I’m out with my family and something memorable happens. I pull out my iPhone and snap a photo. Then, at the end of the day, I create a few entries with selected photos. (Day One’s use of photo metadata—time, date, and place—is awesome.)

In addition to capturing memories as they happen, I’ve started to use Day One to capture past events in my life, too. Here are a few things I’ve learned in this process:

  1. Forget about perfection. The exact date, time, location, and other details of past memories and events is usually hard to remember. That’s fine—do your best to remember. As an added bonus for putting in date, time, and location for past events, you’ll also get historical weather for that date for many locations (data available from the 1970s and later). Regardless of the accuracy, whatever you capture will be better than nothing at all and will go a long ways towards preserving your memories for future reflection by you or other friends or family with whom you share selected entries.

  2. Pictures = a thousand words. Jog your memory by looking at old photos and scrapbooks. Even better, scan the best photos and add them to your journal.

  3. Interview family and friends. Talk with family and friends to get their perspective on past events, especially with hard-to-remember events like your birth and early childhood. You may find it useful to record these conversations, then transcribe their memories into Day One. The different perspectives and voices will provide an interesting depth to past events.

  4. No time like the present. If you have children, encourage them to use Day One now so they can capture present memories. (See Day One and My Daughter for a great example of how Day One can be used with your children.)

As you retrace and record your past, here are a few possible things to capture:

  • Your birth. Of course you don’t remember this, but family or friends might have some memories of your birth.
  • Childhood memories. There are a broad range of possible entries based on childhood memories—from memorable vacations to favorite hobbies, activities, or friends. Just note what was memorable or significant to you.
  • Courtship and Marriage. Write down as many memories as you can remember, then interview your spouse and add his/her perspective.
  • Significant accomplishments. Note completed projects, awards, etc.
  • Vacations and trips. Oftentimes, these will include photos, thus making it a bit easier to recall the time, date, and location.
  • Ticket stubs and other physical memorabilia. Take a picture of tickets from concerts, movies, and amusement parks and other memorabilia. Write about what memories are contained in these objects. (Side Benefit: You might find that after adding these photos and memories to Day One, you can simplify and de-clutter by recycling old objects.)
  • Children’s births. If you have children, add photos and memories of their births.

Check out these additional resources for more inspiration on what to write about:

After you’ve identified a past event that you want to write about, create an entry with a past date in Day One. Then write. You’ll be glad you did.

Lastly, here’s some additional encouragement to get started writing your personal history:

  • “Keep looking up! I learn from the past, dream about the future and look up. There’s nothing like a beautiful sunset to end a healthy day.” —Rachel Boston
  • “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” — Marcus Garvey
  • “Look back, and smile on perils past.” — Walter Scott
  • “Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.” — Mattie Stepanek
  • “In this bright future you can’t forget your past.” — Bob Marley

About the Interviewer

Dallas Petersen is Day One’s product manager by day (and some nights). When he’s not working, he’s hanging out with his wife and five kids and/or playing board games.

Day One Uses: Dream Journal

Over the years we’ve seen people transform Day One into the most varied, incredible tools. From recording work progress to documenting the first months of a baby’s life, we are constantly amazed by the versatility of Day One. This series tries to help you find new things to journal about and enhance your life-recording experience with Day One.

Today we continue with an unexpected use for Day One: Dream Journaling. Below are some tips, tricks, hows, and whys to get started with your Dream Journal today.


Remembering your dreams

It is not very often we remember our dreams, but when we do there is an incredible feeling of amazement. The same goes for the awful feeling of trying to remember a dream and failing. Starting a dream journal can transform something mundane like sleeping into a constant source of interest. Not only that, writing down your dreams will help you develop better skills in descriptive writing and help you make sense of your inner mind.

Sleep, dream, wake, write

Keeping a dream journal requires self-discipline, but once make a habit of it you will wonder how you lived without it for so long. Like any other habit—we’ve discussed this here before—you should strive to record your journal always at the same time and place. We suggest keeping your iPhone by your bedside and picking it up as soon as you wake up.

Protip: If you are using the iPhone or iPad app to record your dreams, open a new entry on the app before you lock your screen to sleep. This will allow you to unlock your phone and jump straight in to a new entry once you wake up. You can even pre-tag the entry with “#Dream” if you wish.

Dream vs. Interpretation

If you are lucky to remember your dreams, they are often a jumble of flashes and images. A good habit is to first write what you remember, even if it doesn’t make sense at first—it should be clear enough that you are able to understand what you wrote. Once you’ve done this brain dump, you should try to interpret it. Go back to previous dreams to see if they link in any form to the recent one, and also try coming back to last night’s dream during the day to interpret it with a fresh perspective.

Pro Tip: Make use of Day One’s markdown integration to clearly differentiate between the actual dream and the interpretation. Use hashtags with titles “#Dream” and “#Interpretation” to give each respective section a header.

Add a picture or sketch

Sometimes it is hard to put dreams into words, in that case pictures or sketches can help you understanding. If you dreamt about a room in your house, why not go ahead and take a picture of it to add to the entry? Good drawing skills? Fire up an app like Fifty Three’s Paper and draw what you remember—export it to camera roll and add it to your Day One entry.

Tag your entry with themes, or give your dream a name

Dreams usually have themes associated with them. Sometimes they are happy, or involve specific people and places. Make sure that once you are done jotting down what you can remember, you go back to read the dream looking for possible themes and tag them. Doing so will allow you to group your dreams and better understand them later with Day One tags. You will see how much your dreams relate not only to each other, but to your regular entries.

Pro Tip: If you like your dream journal separated from your normal journal, a good tag habit would be to use a specific sub tag for you dreams. Something along the lines of “#Dream:sad” or “#Dream: Park”. This will allow you to separate your normal tags from your dream tags.

About the Author

Tulio Jarocki is a student, design aficionado, and journaling enthusiast. When he is not writing about the rewards of journaling for Day One, he can be seen drinking coffee, running, or just out and about in Boston.

Swarm (Foursquare) Check-In using Day One

If you want a simple check-in method, Day One’s Publish feature for iOS is a great way to do this.

  1. Create a new entry. Add text and photo, if desired.
  2. Tap the Publish icon.
  3. Tap Foursquare, then choose your nearby “Place.”
  4. Tap Publish.

A native Foursquare / Swarm check-in is created with your entry text and photo. With Day One and Publish, you’ll be able to preserve this event in your personal journal for the long-term and be able to share it with your friends on Foursquare/Swarm.

Day One Tip: Overcoming Lapses in Journaling

Day One has helped journaling become a natural habit for me, and that habit has paid off. The tremendous time, effort, and dedication has helped create something of immense value to me.

It isn’t without its occasional hiccups though. There are still times when I just can’t journal—no matter what I try to write—things just don’t flow. Some personal journalers might deem that a bad thing, or assume their journaling days are over. Some might even force themselves to journal, leading to sub-par, made-up entries.

What I choose to do is… stop journaling. Yes, you heard me right. I stop journaling for a couple of weeks. I let my mind take a break and wander by itself.

I always know that I’m not quitting journaling forever—it is just a necessary hiatus forced by something out of my control.

Now what?

Something I faced was a flood of questions when I decided to resume writing. What should I write? Should I just resume normal entries and ignore the drought period? Should I jot down a bullet-point summary of important things that happened since I’d last journaled? How do I overcome my writer’s block?

As I pondered this problem, I remembered something that helped me solve this whole conundrum: the US President’s State of the Union address. Instead of briefing the nation everyday on all affairs, the President does so every now and then, providing an overview of what has happened in the previous months.

According to the Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution the President:

Shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

Why not do the same for journaling? In my mind, the steps for creating such a summary entry would go along these lines:

1) Acknowledge the hiatus on the date you chose to start it. (e.g. “Journal Break starting today due to work reasons. No time to journal.”)

2) State the facts or exactly what important things happened during the hiatus. Bullet points would be acceptable and even preferred. (e.g. “My son started walking. I broke my leg.”)

3) Analyze the facts. Look at what happened from Step 2 and try to remember how you felt about those things. Though this might be hard, having major occurrences listed will probably trigger some feelings. (e.g. “There are very few moments compared to watching my son walk. One of the best moments of my life.”)

4) Divide if Needed. If you are overwhelmed by facts and feelings, sometimes it is good to divide the two steps above into different categories or segments of your life (e.g. Personal, Work, or Family).

I often end up with huge entries during this process of retracing my life and catching up in my journal, but it’s always worth it.

About the Author

Tulio Jarocki is a student, design aficionado, and journaling enthusiast. When he is not writing about the rewards of journaling for Day One, he can be seen drinking coffee, running, or just out and about in Boston.

Tip: Using Markdown Tables in Day One

While the bread and butter of Day One will always be helping you commit your thoughts to words, it doesn’t mean we haven’t packed some extra features for those who want to go beyond that. Day One has a built-in MultiMarkdown syntax parser, so there is the possibility of adding tables to your journal entries.

Why would you want tables in your journal, you ask? Well, what if you want to record that great recipe you found in your grandmother’s old journal or note the coffee you have every morning in a nice, organized fashion? With some simple Markdown, you can use Day One to keep your tabular data looking pretty and organized at the same time.

Below are three sample tables you might want to start using right away in your journals.


Going through old family recipe books is one of the reasons many of us started writing recipes in journals in the first place. Markdown tables make it easy to record your recipes, then read them later when you’re cooking. Here is a sample recipe table:

Strawberry-Basil Smoothie from Wit&Delight
| Ingredient | Quantity | 
| ------ | ------ | -----: |
| Yogurt | 2 Cups |
| Frozen strawberries | 10 Ounces |
| Fresh Basil | 1/4 Cup |
| Honey | 1 Tablespoon |
| Vanilla | 2 Teaspoons |
- In a blender combine all the ingredients. 
- Blend until smooth. 
- Pour into glasses and serve.
- Serves 2-3

This is how it translates in Day One on the iPhone:

Health Tracker

Using Markdown tables in Day One is a great way to keep track of your weight loss, height, and other body measurements. Besides adding the table with the raw numbers, you might as well write something about them and add some context to the table. Here is a sample entry:

| Weekly Measurements | | 
| ------ | ------ | -----: |
| Weight | 70 *kg* |
| BMI | 23 |
| Bust | 117 *cm* |
| Waist | 99 *cm* |
| Hip | 122 *cm* |

This is how it looks on the Mac:

Pro Tip: Did you know that Day One tracks your steps and daily activity? Adding this data to an entry with all your measurements will give you even more information in the future about how active you were at the time. Read more about it here.

Daily Coffee

For many people, having some freshly brewed coffee is half the reason to wake up in the morning. Recording where the coffee is from and how you like it is a great way to start a little coffee journal. Below is a sample entry for recording your daily cup. Note: This table can be adapted to record other beverages or favorite foods, too.

| Coffee | | 
| :--- | :--- |
| Origin/Name | Ecuador Tazadorada #3 |
| Brew Method | Pour Over |
| Brewer | Ascension Coffee |
| Rating | ★★★☆☆ |
| Notes | Very fruity and clear |

This is how you type it out on the iPhone:

Pro Tip: If you are an avid coffee drinker, Launch Center Pro app user, and would like to automate the entry of your daily caffeine dosage, check out Ben Tsai’s blog. Ben has some great tips on how to use Launch Center Pro to automate the entire process.

About the Author

Tulio Jarocki is a student, design aficionado, and journaling enthusiast. When he is not writing about the rewards of journaling for Day One, he can be seen drinking coffee, running, or just out and about in Boston.

Day One Uses: A Book Journal

Over the years we’ve seen people transform Day One into the most varied, incredible tools. From recording work progress to documenting the first months of a baby’s life, we are constantly amazed by how varied the use of Day One Journal has become. This weekly series tries to help you find new things to journal about and enhance your life recording experience with Day One.

Today we start with Book Journaling. Below are some tips, tricks, how’s, and why’s to get started with your Book Journal today.

Write something about the book

Jot down your impressions on the books you finish reading and reflect on what you just read. Repeating this process every time you finish a book will give you invaluable insights that you might otherwise miss. We recommend you review a book right after you finish it so you can remember the exact way you felt about it.

Have a list of the books you’ve read

When you write about the books you’ve read, tag them with the same “books” tag on Day One. That way you will have an organized list of all the books you’ve read so far. This can come in handy when you are trying to figure out if you’ve already read a book or what types of books you enjoyed. Having a running list might also motivate you to read more since you track your progress along the way.

Pro Tip: Have Launch Center Pro on your iOS Device? Why not use this amazing book logging action developed by Josiah Wiebe & Josh Ginter to quickly add a book entry.

Keep a list of books you want to read

The same way you have a list of books you have finished, why not have a list of books you want to read as well? Day One is a great tool to keep that list.

Give a score to the books

Now that you wrote something about the book you just finished, rate it. Doing so will make it easy to keep track of the books that you will forever remember reading (as well as those that you’d rather not). The key is to try to keep the ratings consistent. Many people are fond of the zero to five star rating system, but, regardless, just pick one that you enjoy and will consistently use so that you can compare books later.

Remember memorable passages

Sometimes you come across certain words in books that change the way you think about things. Why not record them—why not remember them forever? Record all the highlighted portions of a book in your Day One Journal. What was that line from “Walden” you liked so much? Don’t worry—Day One knows what it was.

Pro Tips: If you have a Kindle, you can pull out your highlighted portions as a .txt file and copy them into your Day One journal. Also, remember to jot down book ISBNs as Markdown footnotes, so that the pages you reference will always be correct if you choose to pick up books later.

About the Author

Tulio Jarocki is a student, design aficionado, and journaling enthusiast. When he is not writing about the rewards of journaling for Day One, he can be seen drinking coffee, running, or just out and about in Boston.

Tutorial: Remembering the Past with Day One

One of the big advantages of having a digital journal like Day One is that, at any point, you can search through your entries effortlessly. All your thoughts, ideas, and memories are always one simple search away. It is easy to remember your past with Day One’s powerful search tools.

Not sure how? Let us show you then!

Searching in Day One Mac

Day One has a powerful keyword search that allows you to find entries easily and quickly both on the Mac and iOS. Let’s say you want to find a particular quote from a Kurt Vonnegut book you’ve recently read, but you can’t quite remember it.

On your Mac, first find the search bar on the top right corner of Day One for Mac:

Search Bar

Then, simply type “Vonnegut” to find the entry that might contain the quote. Find the entry you want from the search results list, open the entry, and enjoy!


Yes, it’s that easy!


Map Searching in Day One Mac

Besides our text search, the recent OSX Mavericks update has also allowed us to offer a new Map Search. Instead of finding your entries by keywords, you can browse written entries through a beautiful map view.

Map View

Let’s say you remembered going to a gorgeous beach the last time you were in Brazil, but you’ve forgotten its name. With the Map search feature in Day One for Mac, you find Brazil on the map and look at the entries you made while you there, all marked by blue dots.


That’s all there is to it.

Searching in Day One iOS

Searching on the go while using Day One for iOS is as easy as searching on the Mac. Let’s try the same search for that Vonnegut book, this time on an iPhone. First, while in the timeline view, swipe down to show the search bar, then type “Vonnegut.”


Find the entry and the quote you were looking for.



Now you know how to use keyword and map search in Day One. Now go journal, and rest assured that Day One will come to the rescue when you need to recall something.

About the Author

Tulio Jarocki is a student, design aficionado, and journaling enthusiast. When he is not writing about the rewards of journaling for Day One, he can be seen drinking coffee, running, or just out and about in Boston.

Tutorial: Tracking your daily movement with Day One

If you own Apple devices with the M7 co-processor (iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and new iPad Mini), Day One is a great way to track your daily movement. Besides containing your memories and ideas, Day One can now track all your activity throughout the day, with very little effort on your part and a minor effect on battery life.

Not sure how to do it? Let us show you how it works:

Day One Motion Activity

Add Motion Activity when creating an entry

Whenever you create a new entry, an icon representing your activity will be automatically added. Whether stationary at your desk or catching a flight home, Day One tracks what you were doing when you wrote your entry.

Motion Activity

For devices that don’t have the M7 chip, users can manually choose the appropriate icon. Tapping the icon in either read or edit mode will display a menu to change your activity.

Add Step Count to an entry

Day One is designed to help you record your walk of life. Now you can do it literally—with no extra effort—using Day One’s new “Step Count” feature. (Available on iPhone 5s) First make sure you have Day One enabled in Settings > Privacy > Motion Activity. The tapping the step count icon in the edit menu will add the count of steps taken up to the creation of the entry.

Day One Step Counting

At this point, if you wish to have the total count for a day, you must create an entry at the end of the day.


There you have it—easy, daily activity tracking with Day One. Now go out there and enjoy life. Rest assured that Day One will be recording your every step.

About the Author

Tulio Jarocki is a student, design aficionado, and journaling enthusiast. When he is not writing about the rewards of journaling for Day One, he can be seen drinking coffee, running, or just out and about in Boston.

Importance of Keeping a Journal

Those of you who have kept a regular journal already know how great the benefits of writing about your own life can be, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

I really enjoyed this post by Robin Chung titled The Importance of keeping a journal

There’s no golden rule and you must do what ticks your boxes, however, I like to include at least the following: what happened? How did it make me feel? What does this mean? An example: went to the Green Hornet, loved it, maybe I should go to movies more often with my dear friend Tina. That’s it, an easy entry that contains all it needs. Feel free to go much more detailed than that – effort does pay off in the long run.

Journal from here, there, everywhere.

Download for free on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch.

Day One app on iOS and Android devices

A Day One companion app is available for Android on the Google Play store.