Writting a journal

4 minute read

I do keep a journal. Well, two. Ok, I’ll explain.

I love the feeling of writing on paper. It is not practical in many ways, but it is an exercise of relaxation and self-reflection. It feels right sitting with just plain pen and paper, and your thought. It is, in fact, lovely how the ideas flow when there is nothing more than you and your diary. It is essential the fact that it is “personal” and that it doesn’t go anywhere public. That gives you the freedom to express yourself fully because it is just for you.

I have been writing in my journal for a long time ago but not consistently. Some times a just stop, because I do not have time or just because I do not need it. Then, when I go back to it, I feel better, calmer, and with an inner peace that only self-appreciation can provide.

Nowadays I write in my diary with my son Pau (10 yo at the moment of writing). One year ago, he received a brand new notebook from PaperBlanc and an erasable pen. Since them, we sit down at the dinner table and write for just 10 minutes. Time enough to fill a page and leave there some of our feelings. We are not doing it every day. Sometimes, we do it for some days in a row, and some other times we stop for a week. It is not something mandatory that we should do, but instead, something that we feel the need to do. Then we do it together. Slowly, he is learning the countless benefit of this little exercise.

My notebook of choice would be a Moleskine or a Leuchtturm bullet journal. But I’m using none of those. Neither I use my favorite pens, like the G2 or the Jetstream. (Thanks Diego for this one). Writing in the paper is very romantic these days. But we live in a digital era, and I have much more than my writing, but pictures, sounds, and video. For that reason, it is very convenient to use a digital journal also.

Digital journal

My digital journal is the base of my working process. Everything I do goes into my digital diary. To give some examples of things that my digital journal covers:

  • Every book that I read has an entry in my journal (plus a review yearly)
  • Every article that I read
  • My daily work log and thoughts are kept in my journal.
  • My runs (plus a review monthly).
  • My weight log (plus monthly report).
  • Every picture interesting enough to give an extra explanation.
  • Everything that I write in my physical journal (more on this later)
  • Everything that I write in my blog.
  • And my digital journal writings.

To do so, I use DayOne. I have been a DayOne Premium user since they started to offer the service. This tool, with the latest improvements in the last two years, has become a central part of my GTD system. But I will leave this for another entry.

I do enjoy my journal, and it allows me to asses how my week, month, and year went. It helps me keep track of many things but especially my main goals of the year.

Best of both worlds

As I did explain, I do enjoy writing with a pen a paper. But also I want the benefits of the digital world. For years I was struggling with the problem of how to properly get the most of both. But, two years ago, I found the solutions. Thanks to the present that I receive from my colleagues at DxO. The answer is the M1 NeoSmart Pen.

M1 Neo Smart and notebook
M1 Neo Smart and notebook.

In essence, this device digitalizes and do OCR on your writing. The drawback is that you must use their notebooks for the digitalization to work. But I have no problem with that because now I can write in a paper without a problem and having it digitally instantly. Here is how I do it.

  1. I write in my diary with the M1 NeoSmartPen using the N Plain Notebook.
  2. The writing appears instantly in the iOS app.
  3. When I’m done writing, I export an image of the handwriting and the result of the OCR to an entry in the DayOne Inbox.

At that moment, it is already in my GTD system. When I review my system, once a day, I’ll read and correct any possible problem in the entry, add the tags, and move it to my journal. I like to save, not only the text after the OCR, but also an image (in the form of a pdf) of the handwriting. So, as I said, it is the best of both worlds.

More than just words

But I do also have other significant journals: Video and Audio Journals. They will also end up in DayOne, but I’ll explain it in other entries.