New Tech For An Old Practice

10 Jan

Over the last two decades, I’ve had a love-guilt relationship with journaling. Journaling to me is not keeping a diary. I’ve never strictly written in it daily and I usually do not write what I did that day. Instead it was more about processing on paper my thoughts, my concerns and my prayers of the moment. When I have a lot to write about, I can write pages and pages; and when I haveless, I might just note a memorable incident or a remark made by or to me.

My best years of journaling, hands down, were during college when I had infinite time to myself (and a lot to process). I have several small type handwritten journals filled to the brim from those formative years. From those years of journal I found a tool to help me clear my head, help me see things in my life that I would be hard pressed to notice and also show me my own growth over time. It was like an second me to analyze the details of my life and give me those “Eureka” moments that teach or encourage me. There are some real gems in those sketchbook journals.

Yet there is always the other side. You know, the years when you restart a journal multiple times only to get a few weeks (or a few days) in before it falls to the wayside (yes, that blue soft bound journal I’ve only half written in, I’m talking about you). Then in 6 months or a year later (ahem, often at the onset of a new year), I’d find that poor forgotten journal and see my couple of entries and my feeble attempts. Guilt city! My worst years of journaling have been the last 5 years (ever since I got pregnant and had my first daughter). For obvious reasons, I just wasn’t making time to journal even though I obviously had a lot to write about. Some of those thoughts were written here, there and everywhere in other notebooks (to be lost forever) or in our family blog (now, mostly retired) or just never fully processed.

Well, here we are again. I’ve put in my 2011 Non-Resolutions “Jouranling” as part of my tools to help me accomplish some my goals. In fact, it is the main analytical portion and only self-accountability step I have in place. So how am I going to Journal this year in a fresh way that works with my crazy schedule (and my ever present kids, that’s a biggie)? See, the problem is notebooks with pens or pencils that you have to take with you everywhere you go or that are always to be found somewhere within reach seem to always find themselves left at home in the craziness of getting out the door or are so easily accessible (and highly desirable), that little hands always find it, move it and draw all over the pages. Not to mention that blank page staring at me saying “fill me up to the very end and don’t forget to be neat” sometimes taunts me into a writer’s block.

So I took a look at what I’ve tried in the past and what I currently find myself “never without”. I’ve tried journaling in a sketchbook (“fail” as a mom of 2 under 5), for the above reasons. I’ve tried journaling on my laptop (“fail”); too bulky, too many web distractions and I’m always trying to find a good ergonomical spot to use it. Not to mention when the laptop comes out, it’s the time when girls come running up asking for something. And then it dawned on me, I currently take my iPod with me everywhere. It has my calendar on it, my “quick glance” emails, my 5 min free-time games (oh, you know we all have them) and it has this great note everything program called Evernote. (And if I had a smart phone with a camera, I’d be taking pictures, recording voice memos and oh, the possibilities…)

I’ve been using Evernote for about 6 months. I use it for work notes, for blog notes (those in research and even writing posts drafts), for clipping items I wanted to remember off the web and even notes to myself. Then everything is sorted into handy “Notebooks”, tagable, searchable and the kicker – syncable to an online service and on my laptop. So I opened a new notebook called “Journal” right on my iPod, wrote my first quickie entry noting how I used my words that day, any prayer requests or praises and other thoughts going through my head at the time. Fast, painless, and something about “texting” (because that’s how it feels when you’re typing on those little virtual keys) freed me from writing everything perfectly, spelling words correctly and wanting to get the formatting just right. And in those times when i don’t want to peck out a journal entry or if I’m away from home, all I need is my laptop or someone’s computer to borrow and I can type out an entry and have it synced to the same notebook. So far in the last couple of days, it hasn’t failed me yet. Hopefully it will continue to be a great solution to my journaling consistency woes.

How’s that for a new tech spin on a old practice? If you interested in trying out Evernote, check them out here.

How are you revamping some old practices in the new year and maybe even using tech to do it better?

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