On keeping a journal

publishedabout 1 month ago
3 min read

On keeping a journal


My journaling app (Day One) says I’ve been updating it daily for 1,229 days in a row. That’s something, I dare not figure out how many words that amount to.

Keeping a daily journal is beneficial to me. Sometimes I look back, sure, but that’s not the primary reason I keep doing it. No, it’s because it makes me contemplate the day, and while doing that, I try to figure out how I’ve been. That includes physically, mentally, and towards my family and fellow humans.

I don’t want to rush through every day, never changing. I think I did that for a while, I’m sorry to say, and that certainly wasn’t good for me, nor, I’d wager, my relationships. It definitely made me lose focus of my goals, and I’m struggling with that, still.

Keeping a journal just to ask yourself if you’re moving in the right direction is reason enough for me. Doing it on a daily basis, even if it’s only a short note or a single sentence at times, works better than doing it irregularly. I used to do it weekly when I felt that the daily journal entries became too mundane, it wasn’t compelling reading and I had this idea that I’d enjoy reading my journal in the distant future. That’s all the wrong reasons for keeping a journal, I’ve come to realize, so now it’s dull and raw.

I have added extra data points for easy querying the past six months or so. They’re tags that notes different things I struggle with, or want to keep track of. It’s personal, but it could be things like working out or staying clear of an evening snack. To me, this works just as well, if not better, than the various streaks apps out there, and I’ve had success with them, too. This, alongside being able to attach photos, is the strength of a dedicated journaling app, as opposed to raw text files. It’s why I haven’t moved my journal yet, despite all my misgivings (see issue 22).

If you’ve been struggling to keep a journal, I urge you to give it another go. It doesn’t need to be an interesting read, you’re not writing for an audience. It’s the process, and being honest with yourself about your day, that’s the key.

And the crazy 1,000+ daily streak, of course.


📓 David Pierce has had similar problems regarding keeping a journal, at least from a technical point of view.

💧 Microsoft’s web browser, Edge, famous for the new chatbot, and for replacing Internet Explorer, is leaking data to the Bing search engine, it seems. If you’re interested in privacy for your search, consider switching to Duck Duck Go.

📵 Mobile Phone Museum is a fun little site. I find it sad that all mobile phones today are so similar. There was a time when this and this could coexist, and while it wasn’t better in any way, it was at least more fun.

Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, or tweeting to @tdh. Thanks!

I’m sending this to you from a lovely desk in an even lovelier hotel in Berlin, Germany. It’s been over 25 years since I was here last, and now I wonder why that was. Can’t wait to get back here, but for now, I’m going to see what the last day has to offer.

I’ll email you again next week. Take care.

Thord D. Hedengren

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The Bored Horse is a weekly essay and letter about technology, life, and figuring out where everything fits in-between. I hope to see you in your inbox soon. (No horses were harmed in the creation of this product.)

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