Just as the environment influences our choices, the tools we use influence what gets done and how.
I’ve never been able to quite engage in journaling. I realized recently that part of the problem is that I was not using the right tool.
Why do I want to journal? Writing helps me reflect. While I could do it in my mind, I find that when I write things down my brain makes more lasting connections. When I write, I’m in part rewriting the narrative of what’s happened that day.
I also use my journal to capture thoughts and ideas, or as a scratchpad to outline a post. For some thoughts, the journal is their definitive home. Others end up in a note by themselves in my note-managing system, or as a post on my blog. Sometimes I share them with a friend to know his mind about it1.
Julia Cameron writes about her Morning Pages:
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
I’m journaling more regularly because of LogSeq. LogSeq is not a journaling app. It’s a knowledgebase managing tool that I use for note-taking. LogSeq automatically keeps a journal file for each day.
I’m sure there are other apps with this same functionality. The thing is LogSeq just eliminates the friction of journaling. You just hit the Journals link on the left bar, and it opens today’s journal entry. There is a keyboard shortcut that jumps to this entry from anywhere in the app. The ease of writing down an entry, provided by the right tool, is what made the difference for me.
Your mileage may vary. Ryan Holiday has written several articles about journaling. If you prefer videos, Tim Ferriss is always great at explaining what works best. ↩︎