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 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

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