Meet John Auger, a resident of Birmingham, United Kingdom, whose journaling journey has spanned an astounding 2,100 days and counting. As Head of Mobile Development for a UK-based childcare platform, John leads app development for both iOS and Android, and has a keep interest and appreciation for well-made apps like Day One.
In this interview, John shares his profound insights and experiences with journaling—a practice deeply rooted in his Christian faith, personal growth, and the appreciation of life’s fleeting moments. In this article, we’ll uncover John’s threefold journaling routine, from morning prayers and reflections to quick, on-the-fly notations throughout the day, culminating in a nightly reflection, accompanied by a carefully chosen photograph.
How long have you been keeping a journal?
“My first real journalling habit began back in the early 2000s while I was a student. Prior to this, I had written various thoughts and ideas in notebooks off and on, but it wasn’t until I purchased my first laptop —an old Apple iBook G4—that my habit of writing and reflecting on my days really began to stick. There was something about that shiny white iBook that made writing each day really enjoyable, and since then the habit of noting down thoughts and processing the day through the written word has become a key part of who I am.”
What makes journaling important to you?
“My faith is central to who I am, and journalling forms a key part of this journey as I pray and reflect on the world and the events of my life. For me, journalling is all about bringing clarity to my thoughts and prayers. I find that it’s when I write things down, whether that’s in a long-form paragraph or simply as a series of simple notes, it enables me to observe my own thoughts and reflect on them. It’s as I write that the underlying motivations and reasons for how I’m thinking and feeling become more clear—which then enables me to understand myself and my faith more clearly.
“Similarly, there’s something valuable about capturing moments for the simple nostalgic pleasure of it. Capturing a moment and reflecting on it through the written word and potentially images and video enables that moment to be re-lived again and again, and also enables the identifying of patterns of thinking and feeling over time.”
What do you usually journal about?
“My journalling usually falls into one of three categories. Firstly, I start every day in prayer and meditation, taking a passage of the Bible and spending time considering what thoughts and lessons there may be for the day ahead. I also think about and pray for the people I will be meeting that day—family, friends, colleagues—considering how I can be a positive presence in their lives in the day to come. All these thoughts I write down by hand using my iPad and Apple Pencil. I love the natural slowness of writing by hand—it forces me to be more aware of what I’m writing, and to be intentional about the actions that come out of this. The pages of this hand-written journal get exported into Day One at the end of each day as a permanent record of my prayers that day.
“Secondly, I try to quickly and regularly note down events, ideas, frustrations and other thoughts during the day. These get added to a Day One entry as and when I do—usually via a shortcut I have created on my iPhone. This type of journalling is the quickest, usually forming just one or two sentences. It’s helpful for me to have a running log of my thoughts during the day, which then can form a longer reflection on the day which comes later.
“Finally, before going to sleep each night, I choose a photo of some part of my day and spend some time writing directly into Day One about that day, using the photo as a prompt. This is my opportunity to intentionally think about what I have to be thankful for for the day that’s coming to an end, and also provides a daily image that can trigger memories when I look back over entries from the past. This is usually the time where challenges and frustrations from the day can be processed and reflected on which helps bring a sense of calm and peace, in turn helping me to sleep better in the night to come. Gratitude is a huge part of my journal content—noticing the things I have to be thankful for is really key in keeping perspective and an outward focus in my life.”
“Gratitude is a huge part of my journal content—noticing the things I have to be thankful for is really key in keeping perspective and an outward focus in my life.”
What tips or advice would you give others who want to build a journaling habit?
“For me, my journalling habit really took off when I gave myself permission to not have to write down long paragraphs of text, but rather to be happy just to capture whatever thought I had in the moment—even if this was just a single sentence, photo, quote, phrase or idea. It’s not about how much you journal in terms of quantity of content, but rather that you journal at all.
“Once I had it clear in my mind that a single thought captured during the course of the day was just as valid as a long, multi-paragraph entry, this gave me the freedom and the incentive to be far more regular in my journalling. This, and making the act of capturing as frictionless as possible by using tools like Shortcuts and the built-in widgets in Day One meant that I could journal freely each day without any sense of having to produce the “right” content. This then naturally turns into a streak without any of the pressure to not “break the chain.””
What have you learned from keeping a journal?
“Keeping a journal has been most valuable to me when I come to look back over entries in the past and see how much I’ve learnt, grown and experienced over the years. I find it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that often it’s possible to see and make sense of events in life, and journalling has allowed me to do this. I can look back at a particular moment of my life, and see how that event then informed and affected my life from that point onwards. I can see patterns in the way I feel and think during the course of any particular year, I can use journal entries to remind me of lessons learnt along the way.”
“I find it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that often it’s possible to see and make sense of events in life, and journalling has allowed me to do this.”
What is your favorite thing about the Day One app?
“The “On This Day” feature has to be up there with my most used in the app. Having journalled for so long using Day One, I now regularly have at least 10 or more entries waiting for me in this part of the app every day and I love looking back at photos and writings from this time in years gone by. I particularly enjoy recognising that there are repeating cycles and milestones through the years—whether that’s the feeling of a new beginning in January or at the start of my kids’ school term, holidays in the summer, birthdays and so on. These milestones all allow my to look back at entries in the past and reflect on all that’s changed since then.
“Very practically, I rely on Day One’s ability to import content from other apps via the iOS Share Sheet a lot. Whether it’s running a Shortcut to grab an image and put some text with it, or sending a hand-written PDF into Day One from Goodnotes, I find much of the content that ends up in Day One isn’t actually written into the app directly. The ease of getting content into the app is definitely a huge part of how much I Iove using the Day One.”
How has Day One helped you journal consistently?
“By making it super-easy to get content into my journal, Day One has enabled me to develop a consistent journalling habit. Habits grow when they are easy to perform, and so by making journalling as frictionless as possible, Day One has enabled the habit of journalling to take root in my life. It’s also worth mentioning that looking back on entries in Day One is a great experience in itself, largely down to the great UI and design of the app. For me, good layout and design is vital when it comes to wanting to use an app, so these things being present in Day One keeps me coming back to it.”
Wrapping Up: Finding Meaning in the Noise of Life
“My journal in Day One is both a breadcrumb trail, showing me where I’ve been, but in many ways has also become a map to inform me of where I’m headed. It allows me to capture moments that would otherwise pass by unnoticed, reflect on lessons learnt, find meaning in the noise of life. My journal is a testament to who I have tried to be, and who I continue to strive to be for as long as I have left.”
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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.