Building a Better Diary System

Photo of a stack of diaries. Developing a diary system can help you become more organized.

How do you handle information overload?  I have been thinking about how I keep my digital life organized.

One of my goals is to link all of the personal data that I have spread over many apps.   I think that developing a diary system would be useful in combining various bits and pieces of my life such as:

  1. Weight loss and nutrition- currently handled by MyFitnessPal and fitbit
  2. Recipes and fitness articles-compiled by Pinterest and sent to Evernote
  3. Daily occurrences- formerly handled by OhLife
  4. Reading- currently handled by Goodreads
  5. Personal development

Goals for a Personal Diary System

I have broken down my goals into three areas:

  1. Become a better diarist.  I would like to improve my memory of daily events.
  2. Develop a better commonplace system.  I would like to track what I am reading and become a better reader.
  3. Become more consistent with my weekly review and analysis.  How can I make personal review as painless as possible?

A Short History of Diaries

Today’s post is going to focus on my first goal:  to become a better diarist.  Diaries and journals can be used for many purposes.   The stereotypical diary is the locked journal used to keep secrets and personal thoughts.  I have kept a diary on and off since I was eight,  and I did have a few of those locked diaries.

I am now more interested in the “journal of occurrences” that many Victorians kept.

Victorians were avid diarists.  Diary keeping was something that was encouraged in childhood.  Victorian diaries were varied.  The first form of diary to become popular among the middle class was like the modern daily planner.  Diaries were used by businessmen to note appointments and to reconcile accounts.   Women also used them to note household expenses.  Diarists also recorded the weather, visitors, and some of their daily life.

Blogs are in many ways the modern successor of the diary.   While I do use my blog for reflection on personal development,  I don’t include some facets of my life.  I don’t think you are THAT interested in what I had for breakfast.

My Current Diary System

I have made some progress in my integration.  Evernote serves as my digital repository.  My Goodreads updates are automatically added to Evernote using an IFTTT recipe.  Recipes are funneled into Pinterest and from there into Evernote using an IFTTT recipe which sends items from a particular board into Evernote.  I do the same for fitness articles.

I use Twitter and Pocket to track interesting internet articles. My Twitter updates and additions to Pocket also end up in Evernote.

Where I am struggling is keeping track of daily occurrences and personal development.  I was sad to see that OhLife closed.  OhLife was an app that sent a daily email to you prompting you to enter what happened in your day. Sending a quick email on my day was very easy.  The best feature of OhLife was that it would pull random entries from the past in its daily reminder email . The emails were a great reminder on what was going on when the old entry was written.  There a few new alternatives to OhLife popping up. I need to investigate and see if I can find a new diary app.

Personal development is another area where I would like to add more focus.  I am intrigued by Benjamin Franklin’s virtues template and I would like to find something that I could adapt to my life.

My other issue is personal review. With my personal data spread over so many apps, I have to check each app weekly to see my progress.  I would like to have everything in one app.  I can get most of it into Evernote, but Evernote isn’t the best for visual items.

Do you keep a diary?  What are your tips for keeping track of your progress?

Pin This:Photo of a stack of journals: here are several tips for building a journal system


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