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In my digital tool belt post a couple of days ago, I mentioned using Day One as a journaling app. Since then, I've had a few people ask me about how or why I journal and a few guys from my church and I have started talking more about journaling as a practice. Here's my personal approach to journaling.

My first rule: There is no wrong way to journal.

Your journal is yours alone. It's not being graded. You (probably) aren't going to publish it. In theory, it can be for your eyes only. It's whatever you want it to be.

The biggest hangup for me when trying to start journaling (I've re-started it about 4 times this year) is what to write.

Do I have to write about my day?

Do I have to be profound and express my deepest thoughts?

Do I have to start every entry with "dear journal"?

No. You don't.

Just sit down and start writing. Whatever pops in your head at that moment. Don't obsess or self-edit. Just write. Get it out.

Why do I journal?

First off, it's therapeutic. I can vent any issues I have out onto paper (or screen) without any filter or worry that I may upset someone. It helps me take a step back from any situation I may struggle with and re-read it later on from a slightly more objective (and calmer) point-of-view. Journaling what is going on in my head at that moment (for better or worse) has helped me a lot with decision making. I'll also try and write a follow up entry to whatever I may vent about to provide some resolution. That way, if I ever run into similar scenarios in the future, I can take a look back at my thought processes in the past and why I chose to do whatever it was I did at the time. It's more reliable than memory alone.

I also kind of do it for future generations. I could see my future kids or grandkids finding interest in it one day. They'll know more about my life than I could probably ever tell them and maybe more than they'll ever want to know.

It's also fun to just read and look back on. It's a place to celebrate the victories in life in addition to unfiltered venting. I can write about my day and all the good things that have happened.

It's easier to count your blessings when you have to put them in writing.

So, why Day One?

I've wavered back and forth between digital and handwritten journaling. Handwritten journals have a bit more personality to them. I think our handwriting changes based on our moods and emotions and just seeing how we write different entries could tell as much of a story as the entry itself. That said, I've decided to stick with Day One.

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First off, digital is a big part of my life. It's what I do for a living. It's how I capture life now. Keeping a digital journal just makes sense for me.

I also love that it works via desktop and mobile. Most of the time, I'm more likely to sit down at my computer and write something out. Then there are times when you have a thought that you want to write down but don't have a computer or WiFi readily available. That's where the mobile app comes in handy. I can take a picture and/or type in a thought and save it into my collective journal. Day One syncs in the background with Dropbox so keeping mobile and desktop entries in one space is easy and very functional.

A few other feature I like about Day One:

  • Beautiful design
  • User interface is wonderful
  • Photo integration is well thought-out
  • Syncs with iCloud or Dropbox
  • You can tag a location of an entry
  • Via mobile, you can attach the weather of your location at the time of an entry
  • Searching entries and archives is easy
  • If you like to tag notes, it has that function too
  • Prints/exports beautiful PDF versions of your entries

Do any of you all journal? What's your approach? Do you like digital or analog better?