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 ( 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. (
  • Text Expander: Typeit4me (
  • The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
  • Rhodia Webbook, and a fountain pen, from Goulet Pens. (


*Photo from