The benefits of journaling have been widely researched and it’s clear that keeping a journal is one of the best things we can do to boost our happiness, get organized and feel accomplished.
One question you may have asked yourself though is, should I use a paper journal or digital journal? Which kind is best?
Spoiler alert: there are pros and cons to each method, and I use both. 🙂
Reasons to keep a journal
There are so many great reasons to keep a journal, regardless of which kind you use.
You can use a journal to:
- braindump – get everything that’s on your mind out of your head
- organize and clarify your thoughts
- collect ideas and observations
- set goals
- track habits
- express gratitude
- make plans for future
- create a record of your day, or keep memories
All of which will help you to be healthier and happier.
Paper or Digital Journal?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:
Pros of a paper journal
- it’s quick and easy
- you’re less likely to be distracted by other things on your phone or computer
- retention – you’re more likely to remember what you’ve written by hand
- it’s screen-free time – which is important for self-care
- stability – paper and pen don’t ‘crash’
- you don’t need wi-fi or superfast connectivity
Cons of a paper journal
- you need to have your journal and a pen or pencil to hand whenever you want to record or check something
- if you lose it or damage it, it’s gone, potentially forever
- it’s not always secure (you don’t need a passcode to open a planner or notebook)
Pros of a digital journal
- you can access and add entries to your journal in a variety of locations, or from a variety of devices
- it can sometimes be faster to type than to write by hand
- you can upload photos, videos, and audio
- it’s more secure against prying eyes
- you can back it up
- it’s searchable
Cons of a digital journal
- you’re reliant on a charged phone or laptop battery, or access to a power-point to charge your device
- you’re only able to write in locations that you have your device
- distractions (such as rings, vibrations, games, and apps)
- eye-strain and blue light
The reality is, there is no one perfect journal or a perfect way to journal
It’s all about finding what works for you and your specific needs.
I’m a big fan of bullet journaling.
I find it a wonderful way to organize my life. I use it daily to plan and keep track of my lists, to-dos, goals and dreams. My bullet journal helps me to take action and be productive. It’s great for habit-tracking, and it’s also a wonderful creative outlet.
I love the act of writing in it, and I love decorating it with washi tape, stickers and highlighters (my not-so-secret way of being artistic and creative, without actually being able to draw).
However, I don’t record everything in my bullet journal.
I don’t use my bullet journal for long-form journaling (I’m MUCH faster at typing than writing, so no hand cramps). I don’t meal plan with my bullet journal, or keep track of my budget or my finances in there. And I don’t use it as a memory keeper for photos and other memorabilia.
This is just my personal preference – one of the best things about using a bullet journal is that you can adapt it to suit your needs.
Find the right way for you
Recently I was contemplating the best way to record my experience during the annual 30 Days Wild nature challenge.
30 Days Wild, run by the Wildlife Trusts in the UK every June, is all about bringing people closer to nature, wherever they live, by taking small actions that can collectively have a big impact. These small actions are called “random acts of wildness” and they can be anything, from taking a walk in the woods to baking a nature-themed cake.
I’ve taken part several times, and I love it!
So much evidence shows that a little bit of nature every day will really make you feel healthier and happier. Whether it’s looking out your window, sitting in a garden or park, or going on a hike, any time spent appreciating nature will boost your wellbeing.
I love to keep a record of all my random acts of wildness during the challenge. In the past, I’ve posted about my experience on Facebook or Instagram, but this year I wanted a way to record my experience in a more permanent, personal way. I wanted to include photos, videos, sound recordings, reflections, notes, and sketches. I wanted my entries to be secure and private, and I wanted to be able to find my entries easily again in the future.
It became apparent to me that I would need to use a digital tool of some sort if I wanted to achieve all this.
Then I found out about Journey.
Journey is a popular, award-winning cross-platform diary and journal app. It aims to encourage its users to have a happier and healthier mind and soul.
It has all the features I need:
- the ability to attach photos, video and audio to journal entries
- automatic back-ups in Google Drive
- protection from prying eyes with touch id, face id, or a passcode
- a clean minimal design, that I can customise to my heart’s content
- the ability to tag entries
I love how easy it is to set up and use. I’m able to capture my thoughts using the app on my phone when I’m out and about – so there’s need to bring a notebook and pen with me – great for when I want to travel lightly. I can also access it on my laptop when I am at home.
I also love how I can personalize it to suit me. It’s easy to change the font type and size, line spacing, theme colour and wallpaper. It has all the basic editing tools you would expect – including bullet points and numbering, so it’s super simple to make lists (I love a list!) as well as write free-form.
Here are some more great features I’ve discovered on Journey:
- dark mode, to help offset the effects of blue light on my sleep as well as reduce eyestrain
- reminders – to remind me to add my entry for the day
- the ability to print or export my entries
- the ability to automatically add my location (and the weather) for each entry
- daily journal prompts as part of their Coach feature
- throwback feature – so I can see what I did last year or month
- the ability to connect to Health Kit (great for keeping track of my fitness progress)
Before adopting any new app or online tool, I always think carefully about whether it will add value to my day-to-day life and help me live in a mindful way. It needs to support my goals, rather than distract me from them.
I discovered that Journey is exactly what I need to keep a record of my 30 Days Wild.
And now that I’ve discovered how easy Journey is to use, I look forward to keeping track of my fitness progress with it in the future.
So, to sum up, when you are trying to decide whether to use a print or a digital journal think about your goals, what you want to achieve and what will help you get there.
Explore a few options and see what suits you.
Remember, you don’t have to make a definitive choice between a paper OR a digital journal. You can have more than one type of journal in your life, and have the best of both worlds.