Do you hate journaling? Or are you very much into it, just lack the time to keep a daily (gratitude) journal? There’s an app for it — of course there is — and it’s safe to say, I find it quite life-changing.
So why do people journal? Some do it to practice writing — I’d argue that blogging would be a much better alternative, but let’s not dwell on it —, others want to track their goals or to express gratitude. And yes, writing down what you’re thankful for or, on the downside, what bothers you, may clear your thoughts and help you live more intentionally. But for many of us keeping a diary it’s just not practical.
I know for instance that a friend (whom I shall call Mary) would benefit enormously from keeping a journal. Mary is an entrepreneur, a mum of two very active kids, and helps her husband run his business — and if I tell her to write things down, she’ll certainly flip me off.
And although I myself have no kids, I’m very busy everyday as well. So much so that I have to rely on iPhone reminders to keep up with my daily activities and healthy habits. Also, I’m a writer — how is even more writing supposed to help me?
Did Journaling Fail You? It certainly failed me. As a student I used to journal with a lot of passion, but with my first full time job — as a graduate at 22 — this lovely habit faded into the big grey nothing. First of all, I had more than enough writing to do in my job; second, I had just discovered blogging and found it a whole lot more interesting.
Whatever reason stops you from journaling if you actually would like to and know of the benefits of tracking your life stations and your moods every night, it will ultimately boil down to some form of lack of time. And this is where I will say:
Everything that offers you structure and a lot of freedom for individualisation is a big win in my book. Daylio does just that — it provides you with an intuitive framework as simple or as elaborate as you need it to log in your daily occurrences, accomplishments and events.
Every day, you log in the mood of the day (the five moods are colour-coded to ensure the overview doesn’t get messy, but otherwise editable — you can also add more moods that you can define using names and lots of smiley faces) and the activities from a set of predefined or from your own selection. You can add notes, but you don’t have to.
The individualisation options allow you to track not only days when you felt good or bad but also relaxed, productive or whatever fits your individual lifestyle.
In addition to a lot of possible professional or personal activities that you could set up, the app now also offers health goals (=giving up unhealthy habits) that are depicted as crossed out symbols: cigarette, glass of wine, slice of pizza, coffee to go and a smartphone — so you can now track days of digital detox as well as days spent without indulging in fast food and recreational drugs.
The app also offers you monthly overviews and statistics for more detailed evaluation. For example, you can see which activities occur on your best days and which on bad days. This can be super insightful.
What I appreciate as well is the fact that Daylio don’t force you into the oh-so-popular subscription scheme. You can use the free version or upgrade to one of the premium versions (€3.50 to €7) via a simple in-app purchase.
I actually love looking at each day in retrospective. What have I accomplished, what have I achieved, what was good about this day and where can I do better tomorrow?
My favourite part is of course playing with the app and figuring out how to get out the most fun using it.
I set up my activities (both the most common and those I wanted to include more into my day-to-day) in a somewhat chronologic order from getting up, morning routine, working out, working, healthy habits throughout the day, and off duty activities such as reading books, watching movies or playing games.
New habits that I need to implement such as better and steady bedtime everyday is my last activity on the list that I can check off or fail to check off. And this also describes the gentle power of Daylio: your day is filled with game-like activities that you sort of earn achievements for. Our brain chemistry is set up to looooove achievements, and with this app — if you set it up properly — you’re in for an abundance of achievements that can also lead you to a healthier and more intentional, fulfilled life.
Number 5. GROW AND LEARN.
Add inspirational/aspirational activities to your app! Whether it’s learning a new language or getting into an exercising routine, being able to check it off every night is a powerful motivator and helps you dismiss more alluring but less valuable activities with more ease.
Number 4. MAKE IT EASY.
Use “telling” icons and short/abbreviated names for your activities! The Daylio app offers you a whole bunch of very cool and fun icons to choose from when defining your activities. You want the icons to be understandable for you upon just one look.
Number 3. DON’T SUGARCOAT.
When setting up your activities, don’t exclude negative tasks. In accordance to what I’ve learned from the wonderful book Designing Your Life, I like to layer energy-draining activities with energy-boosting activities. However, to really monitor your mood and your level of happiness, you need to include the boring and the tedious stuff as well. My “negative” activities include housework, bills & taxes, and even arguments. This app is not here to sugarcoat.
Number 2. TOP SECRET.
In order to keep it more private in our data-grabbing world (although the app devs tell you there is no data evaluation happening, I prefer to take precautions against any leaks — even if the leak happens to be your mum looking over your shoulder), you might want to give some — or all — of your activities fancy names that only you can decipher. Also, it’s fun! Why not let your activities include “Quidditch”, “riding dragons” and “alchemy lessons”?
Number 1. EVALUATE.
Use the statistics to see which activities come together the most during your best and worst days. When something never happens on one of the stellar days or always happens every time the day was a waste of toothpaste, it’s time to investigate!
Do you journal? Have you tried this app? Tell me over on Instagram where I’ve been hanging out a lot lately.
The review is fully editorial.
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