DayOne app: not just a journal!

DayOne app: not just a journal!

I get asked fairly frequently by people how I manage my morning ritual since I advocate for this as part of an overall lifestyle change for patients. A big part of my morning ritual- and life planning- involves the DayOne app. I use it on my Mac most often, but I also use it on the iPad, iPhone, and probably eventually, on the web version. There are people who use DayOne in a much more sophisticated way than I do, but I think it’s worth talking about how to use this app in a simple, but useful way that reduces the amount of paper I carry around, improves my ability to plan, and helps me keep the things that matter to me at the top of my list. So how am I using DayOne?

As a Journal.

I think DayOne shines as a journal. Yes, you can use OneNote just as easily. But to me, DayOne has a cleaner, nicer interface. There are more ways to get material into DayOne for me- or at least, they are more easily accessed. Locations and weather get added automatically.

I feel a little conflicted in general about digital journaling- for one, the recent security issues with multiple websites have made me a little more cautious about what I put on line, and made me think about how I interact with technology in general. Secondly, there are good studies that writing by hand is very different in terms of memory and processing information than typing is. On the other hand, I’m not studying a journal entry, and there’s no test at the end of the semester here. DayOne allows me to take a photo of something with my iPhone during my day (today, a huge meadow of spring daffodils I saw from the train window), and then write about it in the evening. I can save the best of photos from my kids, along with my journal entries, and then have the journals printed (DayOne has a handy book printing option) at the end of the year. I use public transportation, and traveling light is important to me- carrying a heavy hardback journal isn’t part of my plan right now.

As a planning tool.

I love Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner ™. I also love the Panda Planner ™. If you’re looking for a bound, hardback or in the case of the Panda Planner, paperback planner, I can happily recommend these. What I really like about both of these planners (and other planners like these) is that they assist in the reflection and practical goal planning necessary to make progress. The idea of breaking goals down into practical steps, reviewing your progress daily, and making the next step clear, really helps me stay focused. Both of these paper planners excel at this. However, I work in a fast-paced medical environment, with multiple meetings, many of which repeat weekly. You might think that I would remember these repeating meetings that occur at the same time every week, but sadly, this is not what happens. I FREQUENTLY make plans for the exact same time as the meeting that occurs twice a week, at the same time every week. It helps me to have these on my calendar, so I literally cannot plan over them, even if it clutters up my calendar somewhat. Additionally, I don’t want to carry around a planner for the same reason I don’t really carry a journal- it’s inconvenient to have a written planner on rounds in the hospital, on the metro or bus, etc.

So, what I’ve done, is re-create these goal planning and monthly/weekly/daily planning worksheets electronically. I use a text expander program to create planning templates with just a few keystrokes, that focus my day. In the morning, I open a DayOne entry in my life planning journal, and type (tilda) 5m, which tells my text expander program to add my daily template to the journal. Here, I type what I am grateful for, what my three biggest goals for the day are, and what my meditation for the day is. In the evening, I come back to this entry, and at the evening portion of the daily template: what was successful that day, and what I could have done better.

I also have a weekly version of this that helps guide my weekly planning. I’ve referenced this in my blog post about Things 3 before, but not in detail. My weekly template, added to DayOne with “(tilda) week”, gives me a chance to reflect on how I did with my weekly goal, what I’ll change, and what my three biggest goals for the week will be. The Things 3 weekly review prompts the DayOne entry as part of the workflow- along with reviewing marginalia, my inbox in Evernote and email, Instapaper, etc, so that I keep on top of all my inboxes, and don’t get overwhelmed.

As a commonplace book.

Commonplace books used to be…well, common, among serious readers and students of life. All kinds of historical figures, including Thomas Jefferson, had one. They could include thoughts, quotes from books, etc, so they were available for quick reference. There are some nice articles about commonplace books online- Ryan Holliday seems to have revived the custom in the last few years with his article you can find HERE. I tried his index card method, and perhaps I’m still not done with experimenting with that method, but I read a LOT of articles, magazines, newspapers, and books digitally, and the idea of copying them down is a little daunting. I think the idea of improved retention of the material when it is hand written is more important here. However, if I’m never getting around to that because I’m busy as a physician, mom to little kids, etc, waiting until my life is less busy to copy down quotes from the eighty something books I read last year is probably not practical.

For that reason, I tried using One Note as a common place book, but I am not crazy about the interface- plus, I’m already paying for Evernote and DayOne, which are both potential options for common place books. I think either would be a really reasonable option. For now, I’m using DayOne, in essentially exactly the way that was detailed by Chris Bowler in the Sweet Setup Blog, which you can read HERE. He gives really nice instructions, in a three-part series, on how to set up your own Commonplace book in DayOne.

Other ideas.

I think there are a lot of other good ideas for DayOne, some of which they feature on their blog. Ways I have seen others use DayOne include a prayer or spiritual journal (using text expander to create templates for bible study), a wine tasting journal (just snap a photo of the label and tap a few impressions on the keyboard which you can expand later) and even a Tarot card reading journal (same idea as the wine tasting journal, essentially). I’ve even seen people use DayOne for time logging, though there might be dedicated apps that work better for this.

I’d love to hear how you use DayOne! Please comment using the form below- I’m always looking for new ideas to use a favorite program!

Journaling: Hi-fi or Lo-fi?

pencil-918449_1920If you are a fan of efficiency and planning, how many times have you done a digital search on “paper vs. electronic planner” on Google? I know it isn’t just me since it comes up as a suggested search term! I’ve also switched back and forth between a paper journal and an online/journal app, only to be frustrated because I have journal entries all over the place, and can’t look back with ease to see what I was doing at some point in the past. Electronic planning and journaling is easier to carry with me and allows me to easily add photos, but writing on paper has benefits for memory and seems easier to express emotions. Plus, I LOVE great fountain pens and smooth paper!

Journaling is an essential part of planning for me- it’s where I write what I’m grateful for, what I need to improve on, and what happened that day. It helps me brainstorm for solutions for problems. From the mental health perspective, I often suggest journaling for patients, because it can help with expressing and recognizing emotion.  It sounds funny to say that we need help for recognizing how we feel, but there’s even a term for it: alexithymia. Ask someone how they are feeling, and they will often say, “okay,” or if things aren’t going so well, “bad.” But those aren’t really feelings (happy, sad, bored, angry, etc.), but evaluations about how a situation is going.

Feelings are important to recognize. Why?

  1. They give us important clues about ourselves and others.  We can have an inaccurate thought as a result of something that happened (“My boss corrected my work, so he must think I’m stupid”) which leads to a feeling (sadness) and then a behavior (canceling a date with your friends because you no longer feel like hanging out). A lot of this is automatic.
  2. A sudden feeling of fear around someone you’ve just met could be a clue that you need to get out of the situation.

I’ve come up with a method that works for me, at least for now. I use a text expander to input a template for journaling that is very similar to the Panda Planner (https://pandaplanner.com)into the journal app on my Mac. Here, in the morning, I take time to type what my goals are for the day, and what I’m grateful for. In the evening, I come back, and evaluate what I could have done betterI use my fountain pen and journal to write morning pages like I’ve read about in Julia Cameron’s book, the Artist’s Way. I have really sorted out how I feel about events going on in my life, and come up with some creative solutions to issues, which I do not think I would have if I just used the DayOne app.

Join the conversation: Do you use a paper or digital journal, and why? What do you use your journaling for?

Resources I use: On a Mac, iPhone and iPad,

  • DayOne app: I use DayOne on my iPhone, iPad and Mac, and like it the best of the journal apps that I’ve tried- it has a clean, easy interface that makes journaling a pleasure. It’s very handy to have my goals and projects on the DayOne app, accessible on the same format (electronic), as my schedule on my iPhone and iPad. (http://dayoneapp.com)
  • Text Expander: Typeit4me (http://www.ettoresoftware.com/mac-apps/typeit4me/)
  • The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
  • Rhodia Webbook, and a fountain pen, from Goulet Pens. (https://www.gouletpens.com

 

*Photo from https://pixabay.com/en/pencil-sharpener-notebook-paper-918449/