Monday, October 28, 2013

Journal evaluation 2013

About this time last year I wrote a very angsty post called Journaling, journaling, what to do? (Click here if you would like to see it). I was kind of at the end of my rope with the whole journaling thing. I wanted to capture and record family memories, but didn't have the time, energy or discipline to journal on a regular basis. I felt horrible that those memories were not being captured like I wanted.

Fast forward to now. As you may have seen in What I'm Currently Using, I've been using my Time Traveler large day per page diary this year as my daily catch-all, including journaling and notes.

All year I've gone back and forth with it. It's big. It's heavy. I didn't want to carry it everywhere. But I kept going back to it, because I loved it and I was consistent in writing in the large dated pages. This was a really huge thing, consistently filling in each day. For some reason I was unable to do this in previous years. This is the record I've been wanting for years and years.

After using it most of the year, here is my evaluation.

Things I have enjoyed about it:

I adore the book itself. This has been a huge factor in my consistency in using it. I love to hold the soft cover, I love the white paper and the way the pages look. I love the different sections of the page with space at the top, the timed section and the bottom notes area. I love the maps and features. Click here to see my review and to see all the things I love about it. 

Writing in this book every day has been a joy. I've used other day per page books in the past that I didn't enjoy nearly as much: the paper was dark and not nice to look at every day, the cover was boring or didn't feel good in my hands. My pure enjoyment of this book has definitely been an incentive to write in it every single day.

And, this is going to sound crazy, but you know that thrill you get when you see someone you love, or your pet, that surge of good feelings when you see their face? I get that when I see my Time Traveler. Whether it's sitting on my desk or peeking out of my bag. Yes I know that sounds nuts, but I really love this book

As I mentioned above, I've been very consistent in writing in the daily book. I back-filled pages from the brief periods when I used a different book, and now looking back there is only one page, one day from the whole year when I didn't write anything. As a result, this book is a wonderful record of my life this year, and what I and my family did each day. That is what I've been longing for and missing for years. I can see what we did every single day this year.

This record has been extremely useful, not only in remembering fun things but in documenting things too. Earlier this year my son was having ongoing symptoms and the doctors didn't know if it was asthma, allergies or what. Luckily I had noted in my book when the symptoms started, what they were, when they got better or worse etc. I was able to draw up a timeline of symptoms, meds tried and results, and other notes so every time we saw a new doc they got the whole story. (Result: no asthma thank goodness, seasonal allergies.)

There were times when I didn't really feel like writing, but I was able to back-fill later. Because the pages are dated, it didn't mess up the chronology at all.

Something else I've really enjoyed is writing nature observations like when certain flowers bloomed, when the leaves came out on the trees and when they started turning in the fall, bird sightings, hours of sunrise and sunset (we get a huge variation this far north!) etc. Now I wish I had done this last year so I could compare. I look forward to continuing to track these things so I can compare them year to year.

And now I have all of this bound into one book, with the year stamped on the front, for my year perfectly archived.

But, it hasn't been all peaches and cream with this book all year. As I wrote back in June, there have been pros and cons to using this book.  As I've said, it's big and heavy and I don't always want to carry it everywhere. As the year goes on it becomes more and more precious, which is risky to take it out of the house. There was no place for my lists (solved by a booklet in the back pocket (a Planner Pad Insta-pocket I put in.)). Even though the large pages are usually plenty big for each day, there have been times when I wanted to take notes or draw a map, and I had to decide what was worthy of being written on the one page for that day.

So last month when Rori told me about the Bullet journal system, the showdown began. I switched to using a notebook with the same page size, but since it was much slimmer than the daily book it was easier to carry around.

Advantages of the notebook were numerous. Unlimited space to write each day. I started my daily records from the front of the book and my lists from the back, so I always knew where to look to find anything. The book was more portable so I took it everywhere, resulting in more things being recorded. And, using a few notebooks per year would allow me to actually use the stack of awesome notebooks I have sitting around.

I used the notebook for about a month, and after some trial and error it was working really well for me. But then, inevitably, I missed my Time Traveler diary so I went back to it. I realized I would be extremely disappointed with myself if I didn't finish the year in my Time Traveler day per page diary. I'm so close to having the entire year in the book, it would be a shame to miss the last couple of months.

So I back-filled the month into my Time Traveler day per page book, and will continue to use it for the rest of the year. It will be great to have my entire year encapsulated in the book. I've been using my Plannerisms planner all year for planning and goals, so I can archive the two books together for a complete record of my year.

Come January first, I'll have a decision to make: start in a new Time Traveler, or switch to an undated notebook?

I think I'll use a notebook for the first month or six weeks and see how it goes. The potential for capturing things is greater in the notebook with unlimited space each day and better portability. But the risk is that I may fall off the wagon without the pre-dated pages prompting me to write something into them each day. Because the bottom line is, I've written something in just about every day's page this year, which I haven't done in previous years. So despite the limitations, the day per page book is extremely valuable for consistent record-keeping and journaling.

At least I know I can succeed with the large dated day per page book, so I can happily go back to that if the notebook isn't successful.

Can I reach even higher levels of records and efficiency in an undated notebook? Or will it be all too easy to fall off the wagon and stop writing? January 2014 will be an interesting test!


  1. good luck in which ever system you use...

    1. Thanks Deborah-Jane! You know I'll keep you posted. ;)

  2. I agree about having a dated page because I also go back and fill in pages when I notice a date does not have something. When I don't have a dated page the days skip by and those memories are lost.

    1. Cassandra that's exactly what I'm afraid of with the undated notebook. At the very least, I will write the date at the top of a new page each day, so when I don't feel like writing that day I can go back and fill it in later. But we'll see if I'll have the discipline to keep it up without the pre-dated pages.

  3. I started the year with a Moleskine day per page large diary but about half way through I switched to a Leuchtterm 1917 dotted notebook, mainly because I started using my fountain pen again and the Moleskine paper is too thin for that but also I like the fact that I can ramble for a few pages if I like. I start a new page every day and date that page. If for any reason I miss a day or two then I simply date pages for the missing days, write my current entry on the next page then go back to the dated pages when I'm ready to catch up. It works really well for me. The only downfall is that it takes more than one book for a full year.

    1. Karen I like the way you do this, and this is how I plan to use my notebook. (Also I agree, the Leuchtturm paper is far superior to the Moleskine paper!) In my case it wouldn't be a detriment to use more than one notebook per year, in fact that's a benefit for me because I have so many great notebooks waiting to be used, I'm excited to use more than one per year! Also the slimmer books are more portable than my thick day per page book so that's a plus too.

  4. I was JUST settling in with a system I enjoyed and now I want to try a daily page book for journaling. Hmmmm..