Advertising
Advertising

The 5-Step Guide to Starting an Online Journaling Practice

The 5-Step Guide to Starting an Online Journaling Practice

The times are changing and, while journaling used to be the sole territory of pen and paper, now you can use a whole range of tools and software to create and store your entries online. Digital journaling is a different entity to pen and paper journaling, and it comes with its own advantages and drawbacks. If you take the time to explore your chosen online journaling tool and set it up properly, however, you will have a convenient and feature-rich way to store your words, videos and images online.

1. Use the BJAT tool to discover which online journaling app is right for you.

The BJAT tool by Sam Lytle from Easyjournaling.com will help you work out which online journaling app is right for you. The tool uses a number of criteria, including how many journals you want to keep, whether you want to be able to back up your data via the cloud, what kind of social media integration you want (if any) and whether you want to be able to export your notes. It then takes your answers to these questions and presents a list of suitable journaling apps that meet your criteria as closely as possible.

Advertising

2. Familiarise yourself with the tool of your choice.

This might sound like a basic step, but all too often it’s tempting to jump in and start writing, without exploring the different features that each tool offers. Many journaling tools give you the option to add images, audio clips and even videos, which can all enhance text-only journaling. You might not use all of these tools, but knowing the features that are available will help you make the most out of the journaling tool you choose.

In addition to learning more about the different features of your tool, also check whether the developers offer mobile versions of their apps. More and more companies are now offering iOS, Android and Windows apps that sync with your browser app. These allow you to create and upload notes on the go so you don’t always have to be stuck behind your computer to journal.

Advertising

3. Customise your security and sharing settings.

Most online journaling tools give you the option to customize your privacy settings and share links to your entries on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t want your online journal entries to be visible to the public, it’s important to ensure your privacy and sharing settings reflect this before you start posting.

Additionally, some web apps give you the chance to encrypt your journaling notes (sometimes, for example with Penzu.com, this feature is part of a premium membership option). If you want to add an extra layer of security to your journaling notes, encryption hides your journaling notes within scrambled code, so they are invisible to prying eyes.

Advertising

4. Check your commitment.

Now you have the technical side of setting up an online journaling practise over and done with, it’s time to look at the habit-formation side. In the long-term, this is just as important as choosing the right online journaling tool, as your motivation and commit will be what keeps your online journaling practice going.

Make a commitment to use your new online journaling tool on specific days each week for the first few weeks. Choosing the same days each time will help integrate this new habit into your daily routine. During this period, notice which time of day is best for you to journal. Some people get most benefit from journaling first thing in the morning, while others find it more helpful in the evening or at lunchtime.

Advertising

5. Export/back up your notes on a regular basis.

Even if you’re happy keeping your journaling entries in your chosen online tool for now, you might want to export them at some point in the future. Backing up or exporting your entries so that you have your own copy of them is good practise anyway as it means you’re not totally dependent on the developers’ servers to keep your entries safe. Some tools allow you to export your entries as an RTF (real text format), some will back up your notes in the cloud, and others let you email your daily entries to yourself. Familiarise yourself with your tool’s backup and export functions from the beginning, then set a regular time (for example, the beginning of each month) when you will back up the previous month’s data so you don’t forget.

What are your tips for starting an online journaling practice? Leave a comment and let us know.

Advertising

More by this author

Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

7 Tips for Building New Habits The 5-Step Guide to Self Care for Busy People How to Enjoy Life In a Way That Most People Don’t The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime 5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

Trending in Productivity

1 5 Values of an Effective Leader 2 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next