Author Topic: Keeping a diary - what works for you?  (Read 847 times)

misterhorsey

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Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« on: March 16, 2017, 06:11:17 PM »
I've always been interested in keeping a diary, but I've never been able to make the habit stick.

At the moment the closest I come to diarising is logging all my bike rides with Strava.com, and using very brief descriptions of what I have done on the bike.  It's amazing how many details your memory recalls when prompted by just a few words.  The beauty of strava is that I typically download my data each day, and then it's very easy to add a few words to describe what happened.

I also keep track of my networth via excel - but there's very little detail there by way of activities, thoughts, biographical info!

Tried keeping a food diary a while ago, but that was tedious. Replaced it with an instagram of photos of interesting meals I made - which is far more engaging and sustainable and infrequent.

I'd like to continue to explore keeping a diary  - mainly because as with many things in life, it's hard to make progress until you know where you've gone.

Any thoughts or suggestions of platforms, apps, online services or old school non-digital media that worked for you? Or even habits or techniques? Thanks in advance.

MsPeacock

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2017, 06:20:10 PM »
I've never managed anything other than a travel diary. I keep a glue stick, colored pencils, and a good pen with it. Log each day in detail and paste in things like a postcard, ticket stubs, menus etc. if my day to day life were more interesting I suppose I could manage something like that as a diary.

Otherwise, I feel somehow I have to be introspective or something and I just stall out after a day.

I inherited my grandmothers diaries. She kept near daily notes, usually fairly brief, starting at age 10 until she died at 97. She wa an absolute spitfire who was enthusiastic and interested in almost everything, and it comes across in her writing.

letired

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2017, 06:44:09 PM »
Two resources that might be interesting for you:

1. Bullet Journal. More focused on 'to dos', but also contains an element of 'what happened/what I did today. I mainly use it for todos, but also (intermittently) log other things that I do in my life. Also tape in ticket stubs or other ephemera.

2. For more longform journaling, I've just started doing 'the artists morning pages'-style. IE first thing in the morning, write 3 (largish) pages. I often fail at the first thing in the morning, and also am not super hot on the every single day. But! So far I'm pretty happy with it as a system for writing more regularly.

$200k

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2017, 09:09:33 PM »
According to Tim Ferris, most people fail because they think they need to write long, introspective diary posts when the actual benefits can be attained by jotting down a couple of sentences each day in the beginning.  You start small, then eventually ,you'll write more and more as it becomes a habit.

So really, its the expectation of writing long and awesome diary entries in the beginning that is most likely stoping you.

Del Griffith

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2017, 09:21:21 PM »
I started to bullet journal recently, but not with any sort of structure or schedule. Really, just quick bullets of what is going on in my life at the time of writing. I may have 3 bullets, I may have 15. Before, I would try and write these long entries with the intention of looking back on them when I am 90, but found I wasn't writing often at all because I sort of dreaded it. I don't have the best memory so I wanted to try something different that I thought might stick more. I switched over to bullet journaling and just do it whenever I feel like it or know there is something I want to capture relatively quickly. As mentioned, it's amazing how just a few words can spark a larger memory. There is still definitely room for improvement and increase in frequency, but I feel better about writing just brief bullets than not writing anything at all.

I bought the Day One app and use it on my iPad. Not sure how well those will bode as future technology changes, but I'll worry about it when I need to worry about it. I believe it was $5 at the time of purchase.

Zikoris

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 11:52:22 PM »
I keep a monthly retirement journal, hand-written in a notebook. My boyfriend does the same, but on his computer. On April 1st I'll have had it going for 5 years, which is kind of cool. I just do a page or two where I put my net worth, change in net worth from previous months, and anything that happened financially - unusual purchases, etc. It kind of segues into my life as a whole, because I frequently end up writing about travel, work, housing, and personal projects - anything related to money at all.

It's pretty cool to look back on my old entries, and remember what it was like to have a small net worth, unstable job situation, and so on. I also speculate a lot, so it's interesting to look back at what I thought was going to happen with Job X or Project Y, and compare it to what actually happened.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 11:53:59 PM by Zikoris »
Blogging about frugality, travel, and Vancouver life - www.incomingassets.wordpress.com

I also have a journal! http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/the-zikoris-diaries/

misshathaway

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2017, 06:16:49 AM »
I started one on the computer last year. I wasn't faithful about it so that year is pretty spotty. The thing that motivated me to do better this year is reading the same date a year ago when there was an entry. Eye-opening for me to see what my expectations and goals were in the first full year of retirement with the perspective of what actually happened.

I write virtually every day this year by putting it on the ToDo list and by not forcing myself to make it long if there's not much to say.

This is SO Mustachian. Do it now to reap the benefits later :)
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des999

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2017, 07:08:43 AM »
I kept one when I ran my first half marathon, was really helpful.

I also have been dabbling with a gratitude journal.  When I wake up and/or go to bed I jot down things either I'm happy for or that I would like to have.  The whole idea of putting it out there in the universe, and you tend to recognize opportunities more b/c it's in your subconscious.   Seems to be helping me in my latest endeavor of starting my own business.


Linda_Norway

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2017, 07:53:36 AM »
We keep a diary at our mountain cabin. In the evening we write down the things we did or saw that day. It is useful when you later want to find out for example in which time of the year the big fish are swimming up the river. The advantage is that when we are there, we always do something, like CC skiing, fishing or climbing a mountain top. If we have nothing to write about, we just mention the weather and the birds we saw at the feeding tray. The diary contains a lot of scribbles about spotted birds, squirrels, mooses, reindeer etc. And about number of caught fish and sizes.

FLBiker

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2017, 08:01:32 AM »
I keep a monthly retirement journal, hand-written in a notebook. My boyfriend does the same, but on his computer. On April 1st I'll have had it going for 5 years, which is kind of cool. I just do a page or two where I put my net worth, change in net worth from previous months, and anything that happened financially - unusual purchases, etc. It kind of segues into my life as a whole, because I frequently end up writing about travel, work, housing, and personal projects - anything related to money at all.

It's pretty cool to look back on my old entries, and remember what it was like to have a small net worth, unstable job situation, and so on. I also speculate a lot, so it's interesting to look back at what I thought was going to happen with Job X or Project Y, and compare it to what actually happened.

Thanks for sharing this.  I've never been a diarier, but doing something monthly seems interesting to me.

lthenderson

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2017, 08:18:21 AM »
I have my grandfather's journals dating from the early 1940's until late 1980's. My father took over at that point and is still keeping a journal to this day. I have been keeping a daily journal myself for about 25 years.

All ours are handwritten into generic blank journals that can be readily found around town. When I started out, I simple wrote what the weather was like and what I had done that day, even if it seemed incredibly boring. But those boring entries have been informative because I can look up exact days just about anything I have done in the last quarter century and that has come in handy. As I matured, I started fleshing out my entries to what was happening to others around me and including references to big events in the world around me. I don't ever write for my benefit but for the benefit of others who may read it after I'm gone. My grandfather has long been gone but I enjoy reading his journals mostly filled with his day to day activities but the real precious entries are those when he wrote about the world around him. I especially like his entries during his war service, when his kids got married and grandkids were born.

I also equate journal writing to starting a new exercise regiment. At first it is hard and easy to fall back into the old normal of not writing. But as time goes by, it becomes a part of you and you don't feel complete without writing your daily entry.

Zikoris

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2017, 09:03:03 AM »
I keep a monthly retirement journal, hand-written in a notebook. My boyfriend does the same, but on his computer. On April 1st I'll have had it going for 5 years, which is kind of cool. I just do a page or two where I put my net worth, change in net worth from previous months, and anything that happened financially - unusual purchases, etc. It kind of segues into my life as a whole, because I frequently end up writing about travel, work, housing, and personal projects - anything related to money at all.

It's pretty cool to look back on my old entries, and remember what it was like to have a small net worth, unstable job situation, and so on. I also speculate a lot, so it's interesting to look back at what I thought was going to happen with Job X or Project Y, and compare it to what actually happened.

Thanks for sharing this.  I've never been a diarier, but doing something monthly seems interesting to me.

I find it a lot easier because a lot happens in a month, so it's easy to write. I have trouble doing daily stuff because I run out of things to write about. Also, having a set structure helps a lot. I always start with the numbers, give a brief summary of what happened, then move on to travel if I've booked any, work, and then housing or whatever if there's anything to add there.
Blogging about frugality, travel, and Vancouver life - www.incomingassets.wordpress.com

I also have a journal! http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/the-zikoris-diaries/

zoltani

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2017, 09:37:19 AM »
I've been reading the book "the six pillars of self esteem". In it there are sentence completion exercises, which you are supposed to do in the morning and evening. There are different sentence stems for morning and night. Doing these exercises has kept me on track for journaling each day. I tend to over analyze things and this allows me to have specific times for introspection and self reflection. You take the sentence stem then write 6-10 ending quickly without trying to write something too profound.

As an example, for the first pillar, living consciously the stems are:

Morning
Living consciously to me means-
If I bring 5% more awareness to my activities today-
If I pay more attention to how I deal with people today-
If I bring 5% more awareness to my most important relationships-
If I bring 5% more awareness to (fill in the blank)-

Evening
When I reflect on how I would feel if I lived more consciously-
When I reflect on what happens when I bring 5% more awareness to my activities-
When I reflect on what happens when I bring 5% more awareness to my most important relationships-
When I reflect on what happens when I bring 5% more awareness to (whatever you filled in the blank)-

You are supposed to do these same stems everyday, without looking at what you wrote the day before. Do this for at least a week but he suggests in the book as long as two months. There are sentence stems for each "pillar" of self esteem.

I don't know if that is what you were looking for, but this has kept me on track for journaling and has helped me to have specific times for self reflection. Not only that you learn a lot about yourself in the process. 

After doing the sentence completions it's fairly easy to just keep writing. Personally I like the idea of free writing, just writing whatever comes into your head without caring about grammar or if it is "right".

“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life.”

Yvon Chouinard

misterhorsey

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2017, 05:43:10 PM »
Thanks everyone for their replies!  Plenty of good ideas here. Not surprising given the high quality of the mmm hive mind.

I'm going to go through these suggestions at my leisure, so may not reply to each individually - but I assure you I read everything and am grateful for the suggestions.

Personally, I move house in one week, then quit my job in two - so there will be plenty of things to do that may prevent me from diarising in the short term (although what better time to start, given the events that will unfold) but once I'm through to the other side I'm going to take stock and try and get some new good habits going. 

Thanks again and keep them coming!


icemodeled

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2017, 06:59:27 PM »
2 years ago I found my old journals when I was back in elementary and junior high. I loved reading them and remembering things I had forgotten about and some things I can't still remember. Decided to start again at almost 30 years old. I write in it 2-3 times a month or whenever I feel the reason to. Its already been fun looking back and seeing how far we have come in just 2 years. Wish I started longer ago. Sometimes I forget and go longer then I'd like but I keep reminders in my planner and that helps me keep up with it. If no planner, maybe reminder in your phone. Definitely been good for memories, seeing us progress, writing out emotions at the time etc. You could even make a goal to just write once a month to start out and go from there.

zoltani

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Re: Keeping a diary - what works for you?
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2017, 09:34:46 AM »
Thanks for the mention of the bullet journal. I bought a notebook to start one. Hopefully this is the thing that can finally help me get and stay organized.
“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life.”

Yvon Chouinard