Andy Oldham is approaching the impressive milestone of 4,000 consecutive days of journaling. Andy, a police officer, lives in London.
In this interview, we asked Andy about the importance of keeping a journal and for advice on how to build a meaningful journaling habit that lasts.
How long have you been keeping a journal?
I started on paper in mid 2012, but after just a couple of weeks decided I wanted something electronic which I could complete while out and about. After some searching, I settled on DayOne and have been using it every day since.
What makes journaling important to you?
It’s become an unbreakable habit, especially as I get older (I’m officially what they call “middle aged” now!) Life passes faster and faster, and days weeks and months seem to merge into one. Journaling helps bring a bit of structure to life, because every day I reflect on the previous day.
What do you usually journal about?
I try to make my entries meaningful, although often I end up recording the mundane. Even so, looking back I find that trends and habits emerge, even if it’s the mundane things, because they can be important – a coffee with a friend, or going for a run, or seeing family for dinner.
“Life passes faster and faster, and days weeks and months seem to merge into one. Journaling helps bring a bit of structure to life, because every day I reflect on the previous day.”
I occasionally write about what’s happening in the news, especially if it’s really made an impression on me in some way. But to be honest the news has been so relentlessly awful for the last few years, I try not to write too much, and to stick to things that I’ve done, or influenced, and which are important to me.
When do you journal each day?
I used to try to write at the end of each day, but found that is difficult, especially if it’s at bedtime when perhaps I’m tired and/or a bit grumpy. So now I tend to write during the morning of the next day, perhaps over breakfast. This has the added advantage of giving a little bit of time for reflection – if I’ve had a bad day, it often doesn’t seem quite as awful after a good night’s sleep.
What tips or advice would you give others who want to build a journaling habit?
Just write something every day! It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, even a line or two is a journal. Once you’ve got into the habit, then it becomes something that will niggle away at you until you’ve done it. Day One offers tips and prompts, which can give you a starter – I don’t tend to use these, just because they don’t really work for me – but they might for you!
What have you learned from keeping a journal?
That all problems have a resolution, eventually. Things that seemed important at the time aren’t always so big in retrospect. That we are creatures of habit, even if we don’t realise it (I found that every single time it was my daughter’s birthday, we sat in the same position on the sofa, and took the same selfie – and for several years I even wore the same t-shirt/top combo!!) I’ve also found that sometimes it’s difficult to read what I wrote. I don’t always like the person I was back then, and it helps me to try and be a better person now, to avoid making the same mistakes, or having the same crappy opinions on life. With Day One, I can compare myself to the past versions of me, and find that – for the most part – I prefer the person I am now.
What is your favorite thing about the Day One app?
I like the nice clean interface, the amazing search feature (often I will use Day One to dig details out – when did we go to that show? Or what did I buy Aunty Joan for her 40th birthday? Or where did we stay on that weekend break?) and the photo montage, that lets you see your journal visually.
How has Day One helped you journal consistently?
When I first started out, I used the prompts, although they didn’t really fit in with my schedule so I don’t bother now. Fear (of missing a day!) makes me journal now. Having the app on all my devices, with my journal safely backed up in the Cloud, means there’s really no reason to miss a day.
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The Day One journaling app makes it easy to build and maintain a daily journaling habit. Daily journaling reminders, daily writing prompts, and journal streaks are designed to help keep you motivated and consistently journaling.