Journaling Every Single Day

Journaling publicly on this blog every day has been one of my favorite new habits that I’ve developed this year.  It’s truly become one of the joys of my day.  Undeniably, a big part of why I enjoy journaling so much is simply because it’s just so easy. Cranking out 400 words only takes 10-15 minutes and has the added benefit of being fun. I also usually learn or clarify something about myself that I hadn’t previously unpacked as thoroughly.

This day and age, it’s incredibly satisfying and fulfilling to be able to score quick and easy wins.  Knocking out low-hanging fruit on a daily basis is a real ego-booster.  And at the end of every month, I can easily pull up a “monthly summary” and see all of the thousands of words I’ve written in the past thirty days.  (Eventually, I need to code some kinda tool that’ll aggregate all of it automatically but right now it remains a manual task, alas.)

While I journaled privately for many years (in both longhand in spiralbound notebooks and also locally on my computer), one aspect of publicly journaling that I’ve really come to appreciate is that although I blog anonymously, just by virtue of the entire endeavor being public it forces on me a personal desire to ensure that my entries actually comprehensively represent what I in fact believe.

What this means, practically, is that I’ll often finish an entry, be satisfied with it in that moment, post it, but then in the back of my brain somewhere, some cognitive threads (that I don’t consciously control) will continue processing in the background and be subconsciously reviewing whatever opinion I just expressed publicly out into the world. Sure, only a few people follow this blog but I personally feel responsible to myself. So I’ll occasionally revisit an entry, usually days later, sometimes longer, and revise the piece to more accurately reflect my mental model. This’ll mean deleting content that I might have been hyperbolic about or adding material that adds additional nuance to a subject that I feel necessary. It’s fun! I think it’s good that we revise our mental models and feel a semblance of responsibility for what thoughts and views we pour out into the public sphere. To me, that’s just part and parcel to being a good citizen of humanity.

Finally, once you generate a corpus of original material that represents you, then you can start second-order analysis and organizational activities like mind maps.  From the always-excellent Paul Ford at the Postlight Podcast, I recently learned about Whimsical, a really neat diagramming tool.  Using the tool, I’ve been building an ontology of my mental space.  While some of my daily entries categorize neatly, other entries have been more challenging to organize and I’m still working through on how best to create my own personal taxonomy and schema.  One conundrum I’ve currently encountered is that there are multiple ways to slice and dice the data.  In Excel, it’s easy to build a data cube and then pivot on whatever axes you care about because the data is all clearly columned and labeled.  But since I still don’t know how best to label my own data, I haven’t figured out a good way on how best to tag my mental space and create different “custom views” for it.  Ah, understanding thyself– truly a never-ending project!