My Journaling Process
I have been journaling for 7 years now. My first Day One journal entry is from 17th November 2013. On that day, I watched the final episode of "Legend of Korra". I have a journal entry for every day since then.
Initially, I was sitting down once a day and writing what I remembered from that day. For some days, I have one-liners like "moved to a new apartment". Often, I had to fill a whole week or two by memory and photos.
In the last 4 years, I have been refining my journal process to the following:
- Keep a daily activity log in Bear
- Move the daily entries to Day One
- Every week, write a "Weekly Summary"
- Every month, write a "Monthly Summary"
- On my birthday, write "Birthday Summary"
- At the end of the year, write a "Yearly Summary"
1) The daily activity log
I have the following Markdown file in Bear as pinned note.
# 📆 Week Journal ## 🎯 Goals * personal - [ ] goal 1 * work - [ ] goal 1 ## 🗓 Daily Summary ### [Day] * [what happended] --- ## 💡 Thoughts * [things I'm thinking during the week]
I write about most of my daily activities. Examples: "Talking with X about Y", "Steak for dinner", "Implemented new modal system".
Having goals always visible is reminding me of what is important to be done this week.
I update it multiple times a day. I don't even think about it. It is a habit.
2) Move the daily activity log to Day One
Every Sunday, I move each daily entry from Bear to Day One.
I create separate entries per day in Day One and attach any exciting photos I have made this day.
Day One takes GPS location from photos and connects the entry to a location.
3) The Weekly Review
After this, I'm writing my "Weekly Review".
# Weekly Summary [summary of the week, highlights, feeling, and thoughts] ### Goals 👍/🤔/👎 * personal * 👍/🤔/👎 [goal for the week] * work * 👍/🤔/👎 [goal for the week] ### This week * [what happened] * books * [book name] * work * [what happened] ### Next week * personal * [goal for next week] * work * [goal for next week] ### Thoughts journal * [what was on my mind]
It is funny how some weeks, I feel like nothing happen, and it takes me more than an hour to summarize. Other times, I think this was a tiring week, and it was just one busy Friday.
This is the time when I plan my week. I don't keep a very tight schedule. Most of my time during the week is fluid and flexible.
4) The Monthly Review
I do "Monthly Review" every first Sunday of the month, after the "Weekly Review".
# Monthly Summary [summary of the month, highlights, feeling, and thoughts] ## Thoughts * [what was on my mind, combined from weekly summaries] ## Goals 👍/🤔/👎 * personal * 👍/🤔/👎 [goal for the month] * work * 👍/🤔/👎 [goal for the month] ## This month * [what happened] * work * [what happened] ## Books * [book name] ## Next month * personal * [goal for next month] * work * [goal for next month]
I use emojis to rate my goals. This helps me see if I'm moving in the right direction. 😇
5) Birthday Summary
My birthday is on the 5th of May. It is an excellent time to do a check-in on how my year is going and re-calibrate my goals.
# Birthday Summary ## Recap of [YEAR] so far [what had happened in the last four months] ## What I would change if I can go back in time * [text] ## Good * [text] ## Bad * [text] ## To improve * [text] ## Overall * [text]
6) Yearly Review
I do this in the last week of December.
It takes more time than the rest of the reviews. I have the following document open for most of the week:
# Yearly Summary ## Summary [summary of the year, highlights, feeling, and thoughts] **Personal** **Relationships** **Health** **Work** **Side projects** **Finance** **Learnings** ## Achievements * [success, achievements, during the year] ## Month by Month * January * February * March * April * May * June * July * August * September * October * November * December
How do you find the time?
I get this question a lot. In reality, it doesn't take that much time.
- "Week Journal" can be done instead of opening Facebook/Instagram/Tiktok
- "Weekly Review" can be done instead of watching one Netflix show episode
- "Mostly Review" can be done instead of watching one movie
- "Yearly Review" can be done instead of watching a Christmas movie
I originally had the weekly journal, then added weekly reviews, and it has grown from there.
I'm still doing tweaks here and there, especially to the "Week Journal" template.
My yearly goals are more inspirational, like "be healthy", my monthly goals are more actionable, like "hit weight of 100kg".
Most of the steps are automated with reminders and templates.
I have recurring reminders in Todoist for all reviews:
Journaling works well for me. It gives me an excellent perspective on where my life is or has been.
It is fun to pick a random date and see where and what you have been doing this date.
It also helps me express myself better in writing. I cringe 😬 a lot when I read some of my older entries. 😅
I came up with this process organically, and I'm still adjusting things here and there.
If you have any questions or comments, you can ping me on Twitter.