In the heart of Southwestern Ontario, Canada, a consistent journal entry marks the end of yet another day for Martin Eisenloeffel. With nearly 4,000 days under his belt, journaling transcends mere note-taking. It’s a rendezvous with memories, a photographic recollection, and most importantly, a conversation with oneself.
A technical writer by profession, he’s no stranger to the written word. Yet, in his journal, he ventures beyond technicalities to introspect, reflect, and document life’s ebb and flow.
How long have you been keeping a journal?
The entry that started my time as a diarist was part of a project for my grade 8 class. At the risk of dating myself, that journal entry was April 9, 1985. I certainly did not write daily at that time, but I’ve been writing in a journal in some form or another since. I suppose you could say I got bit by the bug pretty bad. 🙂
What makes journaling important to you?
I think it’s important to keep a record of my thoughts and happenings. In the here and now, it acts as a reference work that reminds me of what I’ve done or felt throughout my life, which helps me to grow and keep perspective as I go through life. Later, I hope it will be an interesting historical document for my family, or anyone else who wants to know what life was like in the time I lived it.
What do you usually journal about?
Typically, my daily events comprise the majority of my entries. Occasionally, I will write longer entries if I feel I need to ‘write something out of my head’ so I can sleep, or want to keep more detailed notes about an event.
When do you journal each day?
Another of my hobbies is photography, so I’m never far from my camera. As iPhone cameras get increasingly better, it’s normal for me to have taken at least one photo each day using my phone, and this is also where a Day One entry begins for me. I usually write my daily entry to end out my day, and I have a shortcut set up on my phone to populate Day One with a template which adds the entry to the appropriate journal, tags it with the right tags, and allows me to add my photo. I’ll pick one from that day, and Day One will automatically add all kinds of metadata from what the iPhone camera captures, which is a real time saver. Then, I typically move to either my iPad or Mac to type the entry out, as I find it’s far easier for me to write using a full keyboard.
What tips or advice would you give others who want to build a journaling habit?
Manage your expectations. I know I’ve heard many times that people don’t feel like they could ever write a daily journal because they’re afraid they wouldn’t get the content. I’d say that a title and a photo is, as the saying goes, already worth 1000 words, and takes virtually no time. Also, I’ve found that using a photo, or a sound byte is an excellent springboard for starting to write. Set the bar low, and you will almost certainly surprise yourself.
If you want to know more, I was a guest on the Day One Podcast Episode 9, which according to my journal, was recorded back on Friday, July 13, 2018 for publication July 16, 2018.
What have you learned from keeping a journal?
So much, but I think the most surprising thing I’ve learned is how there’s a real rhythm to life. For example, very often I will see a photo in the excellent “On This Day” feature and realize that the same flowers are in bloom now, or that I tend toward introspection at particular times of the year vs being of high energy at other times.
I can tell you the exact day the robins will begin to build a nest in our cedar tree. It’s a wonderful way to take comfort in knowing nature will keep her promises, and also that human nature may be less chaotic than we expect.
What is your favorite thing about the Day One app?
“I can tell you the exact day the robins will begin to build a nest in our cedar tree. It’s a wonderful way to take comfort in knowing nature will keep her promises, and also that human nature may be less chaotic than we expect.”
Has to be “On This Day”. I get so much out of that, and it’s so handy to have it simply display every day in a widget. Effortless! If there’s any devs reading, maybe give us an option for “On This Day – Six Months Ago”. It’d be lovely to see some sunflowers in February. 🙂
A close second is search. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve amazed my friends by looking up the details about a time we had together over the years, or a big snowstorm or other event within seconds of someone musing about it. They think I’m a bit of a magician in this regard.
How has Day One helped you journal consistently?
It comes down to the ease of use, and the many ways the software removes friction. As I’ve noted, a single picture can populate time, day, location, weather, or even the phase of the moon if you like, so the software does a lot of work for you. But more than that, it offers to jog your memory by telling you where you’ve been on a given day, or calendar events you had.
For example, here is a screen recording of what I see when I pull up an entry from May 2021 when we had a new shed installed in our back garden. I set up my iPhone to do a time lapse and then included the result in Day One. It’s a great way to track it… I took a few of these over the construction, and you really can get a sense of what was involved in that process.
Finally, you can journal from any device, and pick up from where you left off on any other device. Journaling consistently is a trivial task when it’s this simple.
Journaling as the Best Way to Know Yourself and Your Life Better
For those yearning to start their own journaling streak, Martin offers a gold nugget of wisdom: “You’re the greatest person you’ll ever meet, and the one you’ll spend the most time with. Journaling is the best way I’ve found to know yourself and your life better. That knowledge enriches life in positive ways, so go forth and write!”
Start Your Journaling Streak
with Day One
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.