Remembering and Reflecting with Day One

I’ve done a fair amount of raving about the Day One app online, mostly on Twitter. My journaling habits have been transformed by this app, and I find myself both reflecting more often about my current state of mind and heart as well as capturing more of the moments (small and large) that I want to remember.

The moment that stands out the most (and the moment that sold my wife on using the app as well) was the random night I started browsing through the entries tagged with “funny.” We laughed and laughed as we browsed through story after picture after story of funny memories. The entries were rarely detailed—just brief restatements of funny conversations with our toddler and the crazy night I chased a mouse around the room at midnight.

What Is Day One?

For those who aren’t familiar with Day One, it is a digital diary application for your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Each entry can have text, a photo, or both. Every entry has a specific time and date, which you can edit manually. You can also set the app to capture contextual information, like your geographical location, the current weather, the song you are listening to, and more. If you add a photo to an entry, the app can use the time and location information from the photo for the entry.

Tags help organize entries, and you can add as many tags as you want to a single entry. You can browse through past entries in a timeline, via calendar, with a powerful search, or by the tags you’ve used. You can also look through only the entries that have a photo attached.

Recently, Day One has also added options for publishing your entries, to make sharing them easy. The entry gets its own webpage, hosted by Day One, and you can also push the entry to Facebook as a note or Twitter as a tweet (with a link and the first few words of your entry). You can also share entries via FourSquare and Tumblr. If you want to use your journal (or portions of it) as a blog, this makes things so simple.

How Do I Use Day One?

Personally, I use Day One to capture a variety of things. I put favorite pictures in it. I regularly write about the things I’m pondering or that are bothering me. I often flesh out the insights I get from my daily Bible study. Sometimes I save quotes that I find particularly memorable. Lately I’ve taken to logging the top things on my daily task list and which ones I get done. When a larger event takes place, like a family vacation or romantic getaway, I use a common tag to group a series of entries.

I have a number of different methods I use to capture these moments. First, I have a series of reminders set up in Due, which is a fantastic timer and reminder app that has (among its many great features) the ability to launch a custom URL embedded in the reminder. I have reminders in the morning that go off before my work day begins (these are the ones I ignore the most). When I mark the reminder complete, the app opens Day One with a new entry ready to go.

I have another set of reminders that go off just before bed time, including the weekends. My evening reminders are more complicated (except on Sunday). I manage my top daily tasks in UpWord Notes, which works off a plain text file in Dropbox. The URL in the reminder opens Launch Center Pro (iPhone / iPad) and downloads the text from that file, formats it, and sends the text to Day One as a new entry. I add some additional commentary if I want to, add tags, and I’m done.

I also frequently use bits and pieces of text to start an entry, such as a verse copied from my Bible app, a brief funny story my wife sent in a text, or a quote I ran across on the Internet. I have a quick action set up in Launch Center Pro that uses my clipboard contents to start a new Day One entry.

It Goes Beyond Capturing Thoughts and Moments

That is just a sampling of how I use Day One—there are dozens if not hundreds of others. Memories are precious, and anything that can help you capture and remember them is worth a look. But more than that, in our breakneck-pace society, anything that can help you slow down and reflect on the events, people, and thoughts in your life is invaluable.

Maybe you don’t need an app like Day One, but I think you do need what Day One has helped give me: perspective.

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