I’ve tried a few different journaling apps over the last several years but I was never able to stick with one consistently. At best I made it a week — maybe slightly more — before I just quit using them. But it wasn’t for a lack of effort (on my part or the part of the app developers).
I tried Day One and I really tried to love the super-attractive Grid Diary. Neither ended up being a good fit for me. They were feature-packed, non-ugly and affordable. They were even capable of nagging me to journal. But at the end of the day none of that was enough to keep me going.
I thought about simply making a list in my Apple notes app and adding super-simple billet points whenever something interesting happened (trying to make it as easy as humanly possible on myself to record what happened to me and how I felt about it and what I learned from it).
But nothing stuck; at least nothing new stuck. I finally had a revelation and I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that a dedicated journaling app might not be for me. I realized that the photos I take throughout the day are my journal entries (or at least as close as I think I’m ever going to get). Like any good millennial I take lots of photos of what I do and who I’m with. People, food, art, events, etc. And I’ve been documenting my day this way since… I got an iPhone several years ago.
So my camera and photos app are my default journaling apps by default. Nothing has been able to improve upon them as of yet. It’s somewhat flawed when held to the standard of traditional journaling but there are several reasons why it makes a lot of sense, too.
No, the camera and photos apps don’t let me add accompanying text explaining what happened in those moments. But they are organized by date. And yes there are some events I won’t take photos of (tragedies, for instance) which would be better processed and documented and analyzed in written form. But…
Taking pictures of important, fun, interesting, meaningful events in my life comes naturally to me and probably to just about everyone else. “Journaling” does not. Taking pictures fits into my life. Journaling requires setting aside additional time (making it one of several things I don’t accomplish due to lack of time each day).
I’m an iPhone user and that means my photo archive is being sifted by iOS 10 and some new artificial intelligence. On my birthday I can see what happened at the same time last year very easily. Or I can see memories with certain individuals thanks to facial recognition or certain places thanks to GPS tags. Of course if I want to rehash my life more linearly I can just scroll back through recent memories.
If I could submit a request for startup it would be this: someone please design a “journaling experience” that taps into my pre-existing photo-taking habits. Take the pain/time out of adding “notes”. I don’t know how. Just do it. I’ll use it. I want it. Maybe when I take a photo it gets added to a end-of-day alert that let’s me add (or not) any of the day’s photos and voice in a quick description. Done. Something…
I’d love to reflect more and muse on my life but I really don’t have the time or dedication. For now, at least, I’m stuck with my camera and photos apps… and maybe that’s alright.