WordPress was kind enough to inform me today that it’s been eight months since my last post here on Due By Friday. So I’m just going to call that a brief hiatus and leave it at that. But with 2016 coming to an end, I wanted to get at least one success story up here before the holidays went into full swing.

And there is one big project that I just recently completed. A little over a year ago, I set out on the rather overly ambitious task of doing a daily journal for a year. Knowing myself and that I have a difficult time committing to new habits (ahem like posting regularly to Due By Friday cough), I decided that I would need some kind of tool to make this happen.

The right tool for the task at hand

The right tool for the task at hand

The tool that made this happen turned out to be a handy little app called Day One. Available on both iOS and MacOS, this app made daily journaling a breeze. With daily reminders set to alert me that it was time to make a journal entry, it was practically impossible for me to miss a day. Every evening, shortly before bed, my phone would light up with a notification reminding me to make an entry in Day One.

That little red dot is the 21st century's answer to whack-a-mole, if you ask me

That little red dot is the 21st century’s answer to whack-a-mole, if you ask me

My goal with daily journaling was not to list out the day’s activities per se, but more to write a few simple sentences that highlighted the big takeaways from the day. The lessons learned and things I wanted to remember when looking back over the year. By using an app on my phone, I had no excuse not to take two minutes to jot down the thoughts that had been rattling around in my noggin throughout the day.

It was a little tricky for the first couple weeks, as is any new habit. But in no time I found myself slipping right into the routine of making a quick entry before bed. Some days I even made notes to myself of things to write in later. In this way, I discovered a new level of mindfulness in my day-to-day activities. And I think that was part of what I set out to do in the first place with this project. So success!

Now, one year later, I am able to look back over the year and see at a glance what was going on during any particular day. And best of all, I can look at the calendar snapshot in the app and see that there are 12 whole months with no blank spaces or missed days. To see that I’ve been able to do something consistently for an entire year is a huge confidence booster whenever I find myself needing one.

Look! I actually finished something!

Look! I actually finished something!

If you’ve been thinking about taking up a daily journal, or perhaps if you used to maintain a journal and have fallen off the wagon, or maybe if you just like to look to the past to guide you in the future, I highly recommend the practice. Now that I’ve completed the year of journaling, I find I can’t stop. The habit has taken hold. Every day I get to see what was going on in my life a year ago. It’s basically my own little mental time machine, which is pretty much what everyone wants for Christmas, right? So I’ll keep at it myself, and continue to recommend it to anyone.

While Day One worked great for me, there are plenty of apps out there you can use. I also tried using Evernote and MacJournal, but they just didn’t quite do it for me as well as Day One did. You can even go old school and put pen to paper, which would give you the added satisfaction of flipping through stacks of notebooks as the years pass and your collection builds. The method and means ultimately don’t matter so much as the ends. And in the end, you gain insight into a day that was otherwise lost to time and fading memory. So take a minute and write something down every day. You’ll be glad you did.

Now with that said, what can we expect in 2017? Well more projects, of course! After the new year, I’ll be gearing up for some (hopefully) fun new undertakings. And if you have any suggestions, feel free to submit. Until then, see you next Friday!