I love our church’s emphasis on journaling, which is hypocritical because I totally suck at it. I enjoy writing, and I see the value in documenting my life, if only for myself. But when it comes to sitting down and writing a bit, I’ve always had a terrible time getting into a routine.
I totally buy into the importance of it. Cataloging my spiritual experiences helps me remember them. Remembering them keeps the foundation of my testimony top of mind, and comes in handy during those moments when I need them. If I don’t record them somewhere, specific spiritual moments leave my memory so quickly.
Thomas S. Monson seems to remember every spiritual experience he ever had. Specific hospital visits in the mid-60s, for instance—how does he recall them? Does he have an assistant who makes a note of every spiritual prompting and its outcome? Has he told the stories so often that they’ll stick with him forever?
I’m not sure, and I’m not sure I’ve even had the kinds of spiritual experiences that would warrant inclusion in Pres. Monson’s capacious long-term memory.
But what spiritual experiences I have had should be noted somewhere. As should all the experiences that have shaped who I am. To find a journaling system that works, I’ve tried a few different hacks, which might come in handy for you as well.
The first is one I adapted from Lifehacker about a year ago. Create a Google Form that you fill out each day, and your results are tracked in a Google Spreadsheet. Basically, you’re taking a survey every night, and you’re the only one with access to your responses, which basically serve as your diary. If you need a reminder prompt, attach the Google Form URL to a calendar invite that alerts you every night.
In my case, the “survey” is three simple questions:
- What did you do today?
- Whom did you meet today?
- How did you feel today?
I’m thinking of adding a fourth question: What did you learn today? Filling out the survey takes just a couple minutes, and forces a bit of reflection and introspection at the end of each day. Healthy, right?
The other idea just came to me last week, but I’ve been trying it out and it seems to be working. The problem I’m trying to solve: I need a central idea repository. Whenever I have a good idea, I write it down…somewhere. In whatever notebook is close at hand, or the Notes app on my iPhone, or as an email to myself, or as a scribble on my tablet. You’d think this haphazardness would mean I’m constantly surrounded by my own ideas, but actually, the opposite is true. I write the idea down to save it, and don’t see it again until months later, if ever.
My solution was to create a private Twitter feed that only I have access to. When something comes to me—and idea, or an impression, or someone I need to visit (to continue the Pres. Monson theme)—I’ll tweet it to myself, which gives it an automatic time stamp. Perhaps I’ll Favorite the tweets I still need to pull off, and un-star them once they’re done. I’m expecting good things from this system, because my phone and thus the Twitter app are always available, and easy to get to. It might be the lowest possible bar for both recording and reviewing the ideas that come to me.
So we’ll see if that works. If I become prophet in 40 years, it’ll definitely be because of Twitter. What journaling system works for you?