If the idea of starting a journal for the new year seems overwhelming, perhaps an app can help!
“I think you mostly should just write for yourself,” started Amanda Lee, a journaling expert on YouTube with over 2 million subscribers.
“I started YouTube 8 years ago when I was 14 years old and obviously it was just a hobby; eventually [it] just grew into something that I could have never imagined,” said Lee via a Zoom interview.
Lee specializes in a form of journaling called Bullet Journaling, which mixes productivity with standard diary entries. She also prefers paper but says the phone is also a simple way to get started.
“I think there’s something really special about being able to look back at you as a human maybe a couple years from now,” said Lee.
I tested an iOS app called Diarly. It’s super simple but has all the functionality you need to start a good daily journal. I like how you can pre-populate the day’s entry with specific questions you want to answer, the weather or import events from your calendar. All of these can help jumpstart the process of writing a daily entry.
On Android and iOS is an app called Daybook that I really enjoy. It’s a super quick and easy way to keep a daily journal. You can post simple text, a picture or even audio. It’s almost like a Facebook page but just for you. I love how the posts are displayed as a timeline so you can scroll through and get a glimpse at your previous entries.
If you want to go the paper route, check out this “one line a day” journal to get you started.
“I also like to think of it as a time capsule of who you are at the time,” said Lee.
One easy topic to start with, said Lee, are your worries.
“Sometimes you keep all your worries in your head… so actually writing them down can help you come up with concrete solutions,” explained Lee.
Speaking of how you feel, if you’re more interested in keeping track of your daily mood, check out a super simple web app called Reflect. It’s really easy: just tap the appropriate emoji of how you feel each day. There’s only a handful to choose from. If you want to write an accompanying entry you can do that too. I like how you can see a calendar of your mood at a glance to identify any trends.
Other things to write about: things you’ve been liking and stuff you’ve been enjoying. Even that song you can’t get out of your head. Because chances are, in the future, you’ll forget about it.
Most of all, be honest.
“You really want to be honest with yourself in your journal and that’s when you’ll really receive the benefits from that exercise,” concluded Lee.