Day One / Journal Organization: Tags & Markdown
Day One Journaling Series:
If you read the series up to this point, there is a very good chance you are already pretty much up and running with journaling. You figured out why to journal, what to journal, and when to journal. It is also very probable that by now, even if you just began journaling, you already have a couple of entries in Day One. Or, if you are a well practicioned journaler just following the series, you probably are amounting up to hundreds of entries.
Independent of which one of the two you are, the question of how to make sense of all that entries probably popped into your head. This was one of my thoughest questions I asked myself as soon as I had a good amount of entries on my journal as well: How to get all my entries organized?
I found that having your journal organized is particularly important. Is it something necessary? No. But this is not to say that you should underestimate it. Why? Because finding, and curating things is a great part of a journaling routine. If everything is messed up and out of their place, things will probably get ugly really soon. You might loose sight of some things that you wish you were keeping track: a chain of thought, a goal, an idea.
For this reason, applications like Day One offer mechanisms to help you make sense out of the mess. Today, we’ll focus mainly on tags; talking just a bit about markdown in the end.
Disclaimer: It is very hard to suggest organization systems to people. The manner in which people organize their things is probably one of the most personal and dearest thing to them. Nonetheless, based on experience, I know that seeing the way other people do things can help people achieve their own ways of doing things.
Like any modern app, Day One allows you to tag your entries to help you categorize and to later find your entries more easily. As convenient as tagging is, I believe you shouldn’t abuse then. There is no need in tagging a sunny day at the beach with: #sun #beach #day #hot. Doing this won’t hell you accomplish anything—you shouldn’t mistake tags with hashtags.
The way I try to categorize my tags is place them into larger groups. I was inspired by this approach by the way private social application Path handles searches. By dividing specific tags into bigger contexts, or tag groups, Path allows users to see more clearly all the things they are writing about.
I decided then that a good practice is, after you have about 30 entries or so, figuring out the main groups of things you are writing about. Then after you figure out these groups, try to elaborate tags that fit into these groups.
After going trought that process after writing about 70 entries, here is a table of six Tag Groups suggestions I devised, followed by brief explanations of what each tag group I created should contain.
As I mentioned before, your journal is a great way to store your opinions on the most varied forms of entretainment. Tagging each medium accordingly allows you for instance, to see all the movyes you’ve seen on a given year. Very useful, specially to make sense of how much books you are reading, movies you are seeing, albums you are hearing. My tag suggestions in this group are “Movie”, “Music, “Book”, “Documentary”, “Game”.
Great way to compile all the great meals you ever had in one place. My tag suggestions in this group are “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, “Dinner”, “Snack”.
This was one of the groups that was really hard for me at first, because I was not sure how to categorize my thoughts. But I eventually started to observe what types of thoughts I was writing in Day One and I figured it out. My tag suggestions are “Short Thought”, “Long Thought”, “Idea”, “Quote”
This is one of my personal favorites. It is a great way to look back at your trip and see what you did, enjoyed, and lived. My tag suggestion in this group is to place the name of the location after place, something like “Trip: San Fransisco”
Great way to separate your goals from other entries. It allows you as well to see the progression of your goals over time. My tag suggestions in this group are “Short-term Goal” and “Long-term Goal”
The feeling of openning up Day One and browsing through your “Little Moments” or “People” tag is just amazing. The happiness of seeing all these little sparks of joy a person or a moment has given you in one single place is something you can’t replace. This is by far my favorite tag group—one that reminds me how much I love to journal constantly.
My tag suggestions for this group are “Little Moments”, “Peter”, “John”, “Mom”, “Kid”
One Last Tip
One thing I always do is adding a description of the tag as soon as I create it. Similar to what I did up here. That will allow people who read your journal later to understand how your brain created these categories
Markdown, created by John Gruber of Daring Fireball, is the technology we chose to use to allow rich text within Day One journal entries. Basically it allows italic and bold, but also several other simple formatting options that can be written using plain text but display properly in Read views. Markdown syntax is available on Day One and it’s toggled On by default.
How is this journal organization? You can think of Markdown as a sub-level organization scheme. While tags will organize your entire journal, using markdown will organize the content of your individual entries. I cannot stress how important it is to bold you title correctly, and use italics and heading to make your posts concise and emphatic. I mostly use Markdown as a way of not losing my voice when I put things down on paper. I also tend to keep my entries pretty neat with the use of markdown for block quote formatting and more.