Digital vs Hand-Written Journal?
For the past 8 months I have been using the Day One app to keep a digital journal. It's a fantastic app with a lot of neat features. They even recently released a web app to allow you to create journal entries using a browser. Even so, I'm thinking about keeping a journal by hand again.
It's not that I don't like the Day One app, and I'm sure for many people it's been just what they've needed to make it convenient and stay motivated to keep a journal. But it has devolved into more of a chore and “journal keeping by proxy” than an intentional effort on my part to record what's happening in my life.
By a chore, I mean the “gamification” and Daily Prompt aspects of the app. Like many apps these days, they've implemented a daily streak counter to help motivate you to create at least one entry every day. The idea is that you will want to keep your streak going, so you'll find something to write about or record every day. The thing is, you can cheat. If you miss a day – or even several days – you can create entries for those days after the fact and it will count towards your streak. I did that several times just so I could keep my streak going. So I guess it worked as it was intended, but I didn't create entries because I had anything I particularly wanted to record, I did it for the streak.
Another way I found to keep my streak going without being very intentional about it was to connect this blog and my Mastodon social media account to Day One via their handy-dandy IFTTT integration. So anything I post here or on social media automatically gets recorded in my Day One journal as an entry. So I guess that's good, because it captures my thoughts and interests and such as posted on social media. But again, it's been a way to “game the streak” and delude myself into thinking I'm keeping a journal.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's good that I'm capturing and recording anything about my life. But here's the thing. My blog and social media are public-facing. So my journal is not getting the complete picture about me, my hopes, fears, thoughts, dreams, etc.
Why not just be more intentional and make time to create more Day One entries directly? I would, except I recently decided to cut back drastically on how much time I spend staring at a screen every day. I originally focused on media – particularly video games, news, and entertainment. But it's screen time, in general, that is my overall concern.
The less time I can spend staring at a screen, the better. Because any time I'm on a laptop or looking at my phone, I have habits to distract myself and randomly poke around that have become so ingrained as to be subconscious. I need to break those habits, and the only way to do so is to significantly limit screen time.
This past week I made an effort to keep off screens in my free time and I noticed an improvement in my mood and ability to concentrate. I even got better sleep. I want to keep that going. So I need to find fewer reasons to look at a screen.
I'm going to keep Day One going – it's an excellent way to automatically capture my blog and social media, and jot down a quick entry when I have the urge. But I'm going to try using a pen-and-paper journal again to fill in the things Day One isn't fully capturing and avoid having to stare at a glowing rectangle any longer than I have to.