The Journaling Habit

On 10 July 2013, I got the Day One app for free from Apple. This was a result of the company celebrating the fifth anniversary of its app store. Day One is a daily journaling app which I used rarely until 2015 when I used it a lot that year. I went back to using it rarely until 1 January 2020 when I kickstarted a journaling habit. Since then until today, I haven’t missed a day. My streak is 455 days uninterrupted. I have wondered why the journaling habit clicked in 2020 but not in any of the preceding seven years.

Three things have helped me maintain my daily journaling streak.

(1) I built journaling into my daily routine.

Before the first Covid lockdown in the UK in March 2020; I would journal during my morning commute on the train. Since I started working from home; I have shifted my journaling to the evenings before going to bed. It is a chance to reflect on the highlights of the day and capture my thoughts. A journal is a great place to take the time to converse with yourself.

(2) No word count targets.

I used have a writing word target of 500 words per daily journal entry. I found this to be a strait jacket because it sucked the fun out of journaling. I was trying to hit this target even when I didn’t have much to say that day. Now, I write as much or as little as I like. The goal of journaling is to write something authentic about my daily experience. This could be one word or a million words.

(3) Day One’s “On this day” feature.

I never engaged with this feature until recently and it has been a game changer. There are currently 693 Day One journal entries over the past 8 years. I would like to re-read all these entries for recurring themes but this is an overwhelming task. The “on this day” feature helps me tackle this. Day One gives me the ability to read all the previous entries {if any} I have written each day over the past seven years. This allows my present self to interact with my past self.

I have found journaling to be a great reflective practice and would recommend the habit. Day One is a great app for this if you are looking for a journaling app.

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