How to keep a journal

How to keep a journal

Just open any given site that publishes articles on personal growth, and you will find at least one article that says: Why Keeping A Journal Will Change Your Life. A journal is truly one of the best self-improvement tools there is.

When I talk to friends, or when I coach people, I always ask: “Do you keep a journal?”

This probably won’t surprise you, but the answer is almost always “No.”

And the funny thing is that everyone knows that they should keep one. But it should is not enough. There are a lot of things that we should do—but we don’t do them.

Why? We have no idea HOW to do them. It’s just like when you were in school. Do you remember all those times you had a question on your mind but you didn’t ask? You probably thought: “Maybe the teacher thinks I’m dumb.”

Well, this is exactly the same. We all think that journaling is easy so we don’t bother asking how you do it. It’s not easy, but it’s also not rocket science.

Most people overcomplicate the act of journaling or putting your thoughts on paper. I think Ernest Hemingway put it best:

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

But how do you do that?

How to keep a journal

First, get clear on your why

For me, there’s only one reason to keep a journal: To manage myself.

That’s the only practical reason I can think of. Why else would you keep a journal? It’s not that my life is so interesting that I can ever sell it as a memoir. I’m no John Krakauer or Maya Angelou.

No, I see journaling as a self-improvement tool. Nothing else.

Most of us still see journaling as a hobby or something that we do for fun or to relax. Sure, those reasons might be true for some. But for most, there’s only one why: Self-improvement.

How do you expect to improve yourself if you don’t know yourself? You truly get to know the quality of your thoughts when you write them down.

  • Do you know how good of a thinker you are?
  • Do your decisions make sense?
  • How do you even make decisions?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • When are you productive?
  • When are you not productive?

You can answer all these questions by reading your journal. Don’t know what to write? Here are 3 ideas.

1. Journal about your activities

Just write what you’ve been doing. You can either do it in the morning or evening.

It doesn’t matter when you do, just try to write about what you’ve done during the past 24 hours. It’s not the same as an activity log, something I wrote about recently.

When I journal about my activities, I record what time I went to bed, what time I woke up, what I worked on, who I talked to, what book I read, etc.

When I lack inspiration or motivation, I just go through my journal and see when I was inspired, felt energized, or motivated. Then, I recreate those events. Here are a few journaling prompts you can ask yourself to get started:

  • What time did you wake up today?
  • What was the first thing you did?
  • What did you have for breakfast?
  • How did you feel during the morning?
  • What did you work on today? How did it go?
  • What book are you reading? What do you think about it?

These are all straightforward questions we can all ask ourselves. We all woke up today, ate something, etc. Writing about these activities will get you started. And that’s one of the most important things about journaling.

“Don’t trust your memory. When you listen to something valuable, write it down. When you come across something important, write it down.” — Jim Rohn

2. Journal about what scares you

There’s no better way to address your worries than writing about them. If you worry about something, it seems way worse in your head.

When you start writing down what you’re stressed about, you can start thinking about how you’re going to solve the problem that’s causing you stress in the first place.

I’ve been journaling about my fears for a long time now. And it truly helps. If you want to read more about that process, check out this article I wrote a while back. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What something that’s lingering in your mind?
  • Why does that thing make you feel uncomfortable?
  • What did you worry about today?
  • What can you do to address your worries?

The point of journaling about what scares you is to think on paper. Often, we worry about things we have no control over. When we only think about it, we don’t realize that we’re wasting our time. But when you write about what worries you, it becomes very obvious.

Ultimately, you want to create a plan to address your worries. Let’s say you’re worried about your financial situation. Think about all the ways you can generate extra income. Put all your ideas on paper and then start working on them.

“The act of writing is the act of discovering what you believe.” — David Hare

How to keep a journal

3. Journal about your decisions

Use your journal as a feedback mechanism by second-guessing your own decisions. Making decisions is hard. For example:

  • “Should I quit my job?”
  • “Should I take this job?”
  • “Should I end my relationship?”

Those are examples of big decisions. But you can also use it for all the small decisions in life.

  • “Should I go out tonight or should I work on my business?”
  • “Does this UX design work or not?”

Deep down, we kind of know the answers. We just don’t look deep enough. Ask yourself a question and try to answer it by reasoning from multiple sides. What are the pros? What are the cons? What are the outcomes?

The questions you can ask yourself are endless. There you have it. Do you see? It’s not complicated stuff.

Journaling is a very versatile tool. It helps you with your self-awareness, and it also helps you to improve yourself. If you’re serious about those things, a journal is a must.

Now, all you have to do is open a new page in your physical journal, or a document in your digital journal, and start writing:

“Today is the first day of my daily journaling habit.”

There’s this weird thing—when you write things down, they become real. Start journaling and see it for yourself.

This article was co-authored by Catherine Boswell, PhD. Dr. Catherine Boswell is a Licensed Psychologist and a Co-Founder of Psynergy Psychological Associates, a private therapy practice based in Houston, Texas. With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Boswell specializes in treating individuals, groups, couples, and families struggling with trauma, relationships, grief, and chronic pain. She holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Houston. Dr. Bowell has taught courses to Master’s level students at the University of Houston. She is also an author, speaker, and coach.

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Keeping a journal is a great way to process your thoughts and emotions. Additionally, it helps you remember your life experiences. If you’re ready to start journaling, decide on what type of journal you want to keep. Then, express your thoughts, experiences, and ideas in your journal entries. To keep up your journaling habit, challenge yourself to write every day.

How to keep a journal

Tip: Journaling in a notebook is a great option if you’d like to personalize it with drawings, stickers, and collages. You can even paste mementos like theater tickets into your journal!

How to keep a journal

How to keep a journal

Tip: It’s okay to be creative and play around with your journal. For instance, you might choose to include a mixture of personal entries, gratitude lists, and art entries.

How to keep a journal

Catherine Boswell, PhD
Licensed Psychologist Expert Interview. 29 December 2020.

  • Record your dreams. For instance, let’s say you had a dream that you were flying. You might write about the experience, how it felt, and what it might mean.
  • List what you’re grateful for. As an example, you might list off your cat, your family, your singing voice, and your group of friends.
  • Explore something that scares you. For instance, you could write about your fear of closed in spaces.
  • Use a writing prompt, which you can find online. Try prompts like, “Explain what your favorite movie means to you,” “Describe your response to seeing a ghost,” “Write about dream vacation.”
  • An Exceedingly Simple Guide to Keeping a Journal

    Post written by Leo Babauta.

    I have to confess: I’ve never been good at keeping a journal. Until this year.

    It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do regularly, and over the years I’ve started journals in many different forms. I have bits of journals in several notebooks and in several computer files, but while they’re interesting, they’re more a testament to my failure to keep a journal going for very long.

    But this year has been different. I started a journal on January 3, 2012 and have an entry for just about every day since then — nearly 3 months might not seem like a lot to you, but it’s about six times what I’ve ever done before, and at this point I have confidence that I’ll keep it going for at least a few more months.

    What has changed? I instituted a few “tricks” to keep the journaling simple, easy, and sustainable.

    My Journal Rules

    I wanted to make sure the journaling was as easy as possible, so I have no excuses. So I instituted a few rules that have worked very well for me:

    1. Only write a few bullet points. I don’t write full sentences — just a bullet point for interesting or important things that happened each day. I only have to write 2-3, though sometimes I write 5-6 if I did a lot. I mix personal and work stuff together. By keeping each day’s entry short and simple, I make it so easy to journal that there are no excuses — it only takes a few minutes!

    2. Keep my notebook where I won’t miss it. I put my notebook where I have coffee in the morning. I’ve been using an old Moleskine that I found in my closet that I’d started using as a journal in 2008, on my trip with Eva to Thailand. It really doesn’t matter what kind of notebook you use, but I’ve found a physical notebook is best because on the computer, I’ll tend to forget or be distracted by other computer tasks (damn the Internet!). When I see the notebook as I sit down to drink coffee, I remember to journal. Btw, one of the lapses in my current journal came when I changed my morning routine and started drinking coffee on the couch instead of at my desk — my journal stayed on the desk and I forgot to journal for more than a week. I had to fill it in later, which wasn’t easy. Which brings me to my next rule.

    3. Don’t miss more than 2 days of journaling. I missed almost two weeks once, as I just mentioned … and later when I had to fill in back entries, I had a hard time remembering what I’d did. I had a couple other lapses like this, usually because visitors change up my routine, and I’ve found that looking in my calendar and emails helps jog my memory so I can get most of the main things into the journal. But it’s far better to journal the day after the events happen, when things are still fresh. I’ve found that two days later is also fine, but at three days, you start to mix up the previous few days and forget some things. So if I don’t journal every day, I will make sure not to miss more than a day or two.

    That’s it. Those three rules work very well for me, and have helped me keep a journal for the last several months.

    Bonus Tips

    And here are a few more tips (some were said in the paragraphs above as well):

    • Physical notebooks are better than computer journals, as you tend to forget computer programs or get distracted by the Internet. I also like the physical act of writing pen on paper, which I do far too little these days. That said, if you prefer a computer journal, keep it simple. I like text files rather than a dedicated journal program, because text files are pretty much forever, while other data formats can become obsolete if the journal program gets discontinued.
    • What physical notebook you use doesn’t matter. I use a pocket Moleskine notebook witha soft cover. I use a hard cover pocket Moleskine for my workout log, which I’ve been using since last year so I can see my progress. Those are my only two notebooks. I’ve used other notebooks too, and they work well. I like the pocket notebooks because they’re easy to carry around if I want to journal on the train (which I don’t do often) and don’t take up much space on the table next to where I drink coffee.
    • Journal before you get on the computer in the morning. Recap your previous day. If you start on the computer, I’ve learned, you’ll forget about the journaling. Don’t put it off!
    • If you forget to journal for a few days, use your calendar and the emails you sent as reminders for what you did.
    • Remember, keep it short! Just a few bullet points of the main things you did. Here are my bullet points for Wed. Mar. 21, 2012 for example: 1. gym – end of week 6; 2. drafted ZH post on 3-step happiness algorithm; 3. wrote mnmlist post on being OK with things as they are; 4. bought groceries, gifts, decorations for Noelle & Chloe’s birthday party.
    • I like that I can look back and see what the highlights are of each day — this helps me to know if I’ve been focusing on important stuff, or frittering my days away.

    I highly recommend keeping a journal. It takes minutes a day, and looking back on your life is something that seems deeply satisfying.

    Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal

    Here’s a way to be thankful all year long.

    Psychology researchers aren’t necessarily Thanksgiving experts—they may not know how to make fluffy stuffing, say, or beat the traffic to your in-laws’ house—but they have become a fount of wisdom on thanksgiving (with a small “t”).

    Over the past decade, they’ve not only identified the great social, psychological, and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks; they’ve zeroed in on some concrete practices that help us reap those benefits.

    And perhaps the most popular practice is to keep a “gratitude journal.” As we’ve reported many times over the years, studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike. We’ve even launched our own digital gratitude journal,, here on Greater Good.

    How to keep a journal

    The basic practice is straightforward. In many of the studies, people are simply instructed to record five things they experienced in the past week for which they’re grateful. The entries are supposed to be brief—just a single sentence—and they range from the mundane (“waking up this morning”) to the sublime (“the generosity of friends”) to the timeless (“the Rolling Stones”).

    But when you dig into the research, you find that gratitude journals don’t always work—some studies show incredible benefits, others not so much.

    To understand why, I took a closer look at the research and consulted with Robert Emmons, arguably the world’s leading expert on the science of gratitude and an author of some of the seminal studies of gratitude journals.

    How to keep a journal

    The Gratitude Project

    What if we didn’t take good things for granted? Learn how gratitude can lead to a better life—and a better world—in this new GGSC book.

    Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis, shared these research-based tips for reaping the greatest psychological rewards from your gratitude journal.

    • Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggests that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. “Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling,” says Emmons.
    • Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
    • Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
    • Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
    • Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
    • Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. In fact, one study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”
      Try our Gratitude Journal!

      Learn more about gratitude journals by participating in the GGSC’s online, shareable gratitude journal, Thnx4.

      In looking over this list, what strikes me is how keeping a gratitude journal—or perhaps the entire experience of gratitude—is really about forcing ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we’d otherwise take for granted. Perhaps that’s why the benefits seem to diminish when you start writing more than once per week, and why surprises induce stronger feelings of gratitude: It’s easy to get numb to the regular sources of goodness in our lives.

      Indeed, Emmons told me that when people start keeping a gratitude journal, he recommends that they see each item they list in their journal as a gift—in fact, he suggests that they “make the conscious effort to associate it with the word ‘gift.’” Here are the exact instructions he gives participants in his studies:

      Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.

      “In other words,” he says, “we tell them not to hurry through this exercise as if it were just another item on your to-do list. This way, gratitude journaling is really different from merely listing a bunch of pleasant things in one’s life.”

      So why might this particular practice do such good for our minds and bodies? Emmons points to research showing that translating thoughts into concrete language—whether oral or written—has advantages over just thinking the thoughts: It makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.

      More on Gratitude

      Learn 10 ways to become more grateful.

      Take this gratitude quiz to learn how grateful you are.

      Read more about the research-proven benefits of gratitude.

      Contribute to our “community gratitude journal.”

      Watch this video on teaching kids gratitude.

      “Writing helps to organize thoughts, facilitate integration, and helps you accept your own experiences and put them in context,” he says. “In essence, it allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life.”

      It has become common for therapists to recommend writing about unpleasant, even traumatic events (a practice we’ll discuss in the teleseminar I’ll be participating in this Friday, hosted by the National Association of Memoir Writers). Similarly, says Emmons, gratitude journals may help us “bring a new and redemptive frame of reference to a difficult life situation.”

      Though he does have suggestions for how to keep a gratitude journal, Emmons also stresses that “there is no one right way to do it.” There’s no evidence that journaling at the start of the day is any more effective than journaling before you go to bed, for instance. And aesthetics really don’t matter.

      “You don’t need to buy a fancy personal journal to record your entries in, or worry about spelling or grammar,” says Emmons. “The important thing is to establish the habit of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events.”

      [Affiliate links may be used in this post.]

      How to keep a journal

      Simple is the Key: How to Keep a Prayer Journal

      As with every daily practice, there are many ways to make keeping a prayer journal more detailed or in-depth. I’m going to share with you how to keep a prayer journal that you will actually be able to stick with.

      These first 3 steps are a basic outline of what I do each and every day—no matter what.

      This is my quiet time with the Lord. And what I never realized before was that every single person has equal access to this open line of communication with God. You don’t need to attend seminary school or be baptized.

      Anyone can talk to the Lord and He will talk back–you just have to be willing to listen.

      A Wandering Mind

      Some people can simply pray in their mind and talk to God that way, but I get way too distracted and start thinking about my grocery list or how I need to shave my legs. My mind always wanders.

      Writing out my prayers has brought about a freedom in my relationship with Christ that I longed for but never knew if it was really possible.

      Having a pen in my hand, determined to create sentences—that is what keeps my brain focused on the prayer—on writing the very next word.

      Basic/Daily Prayer Journal Format:

      Step 1:

      Open with prayer. Ask the Lord to guide your mind to a piece of scripture, a memory, a sermon, a song, or a friend.

      Step 2:

      Begin writing—“Father, what do you want me to know about _________?” or “I am sensing that I am supposed to pray about ___________.” I try to stay in the Spirit at this point—allowing Him to guide my thoughts and I write whatever comes to mind. I keep writing until I’m done.

      At this point, I usually have a good idea where God wants me to go and I’ve written my initial thoughts out. Sometimes it’s a couple pages and sometimes it’s a brief paragraph.

      There have been many times where it’s just a word or a name and I’m stuck. When that happens I talk to God about why I might be stuck there. What is He trying to teach me? Why is He keeping me here?

      (It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to keep a prayer journal.)

      Step 3:

      I almost always like to find one or more verses that correspond with my prayer. I do this to make sure that there is Biblical truth in what I wrote—kind of like a way to check myself.

      You Can’t be Stopped

      Do not let fear or doubt stop you from this awesome form of worship. Fear that you’ll do it all wrong or doubt that it will even work.

      That is the enemy talking–he doesn’t want to see you magnify the Father and marvel at God’s glory through your writing.

      “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.”
      (Proverbs 3:3)

      If you’re just starting out or you’re feeling stuck or uninspired–check out my list of prompts for your first 30 days of prayer journaling. Oh and I also have a list of 10 things you can track in your prayer journal. If you’re wondering what some of my favorite prayer journal tools are–check out this post!

      How to keep a journal

      How to keep a journal

      How to keep a journal

      NLP Coach & Bestselling Manifestation Book Author

      Our life is an endless journey. Every day we start a new chapter. And keep track of all this is a great way to reflect and focus on our goals and journey. A journal is definitely an amazing way to keep all these thoughts in one place. So let’s find out how to start a journal and keep up with daily journaling.

      How to keep a journal

      To start a journal and also keep up with daily journaling, you need to get into the habit of it. For this, it is key that you have a strong reason to do it. Knowing your WHY, and also find the journal type that suits you the best, ist key for your success.

      In case you like to have a guide on how to start a manifesting journal, then click here: How to Journal for Manifesting Success – this in-depth guide on journaling will give you all the answers you are looking for.

      But in today’s post, I like to cover how you can get started with your journal. And of course, how you keep up the motivation for your daily journaling exercise.

      But before we get started, let’s quickly have a look at why you should even start a journal.

      The Benefits of Starting a Journal

      The list of benefits of a journal is very long. For example, a journal can have a very positive effect on your physical health by helping you to go through life more relaxed.

      Therefore it can be a wonderful tool to reduce stress, high blood pressure, and even inflammation in the body.

      A journal also has many advantages for your mindset, want to learn more on how to journal for self-improvement? Then check out this post here: 7 Top Benefits of Journaling For Your Mindset

      Whether you want to start a journal to reinforce your manifesting process, or to work on your abundance blocks, starting with journaling is definitely a good idea.

      And here are my top tips on how to get started with journaling.

      Define Your Journaling Goals

      It is always difficult to start (and maintain) a new habit when we have no idea why we are doing it.

      Set a clear goal for what you want to achieve with your journal. And more importantly, why you want to achieve this journaling goal.

      If you know what your new habit, journaling, will do for you, it will be so much easier to sit down and actually do it—day after day.

      Embrace Problem Solving

      Do you have a challenge that is wearing you down? Writing a journal can enhance your problem-solving capabilities. Because this can let you focus on what you are able to do.

      Even more, this can also be an effective way to keep track of the things you are doing for your well-being.

      There are numerous types of journals you can start. The most common types are a journal for self-improvement, travel journal, gratitude journal, dream journal, and the list can go on.

      You can start writing a journal on any aspect of your life. But if you put the problem-solving aspect in the foreground, it can greatly increase your motivation.

      For more journal ideas and what to write in a journal diary, check out my journal guide here.

      There is a profound vulnerability that comes with
      putting your deepest feelings in black and white.

      Here are six ways that people who keep personal
      journals and diaries have handled the issue of privacy. See if you can combine
      these ideas in a way that makes you feel comfortable keeping your own honest
      personal journal.

      Some Ideas to Keep Your Diary Safe

      1. Start each journal with a blank page or
      a page that indicates your desire for the journal to not be read.

      2. Use abbreviations or shorthand when you
      need to. If you are writing about a particularly negative situation or thought,
      use first initials or code words to portray the people involved.

      3. Keep your journal on your personal
      computer, if that works for you. You might want to get in the habit of reading
      the journal through at the end of each year and recording the insights you get
      from such a process and then deleting the diary file itself. For active journal
      entries (ie. the present year’s diary) password protect the file on your PC so
      no one can access it but you.

      4. If you don’t like to journal via the
      computer, you can still get rid of the journal or the year’s journal pages
      (through some method of destruction) after each year if that makes you feel
      more comfortable. Just make sure you go through it to get out the good stuff
      before you do so. You can even delete/shred the journal pages on a more
      frequently basis: monthly, perhaps.

      Of course, if you do this, you’ll miss out on the
      insights you could gain from reading your journal years down the road. This can
      be a really beneficial part of the journaling process because you can see how
      much you have grown and changed. That said, it’s a process I don’t recommend,
      but if it is the only way you feel comfortable journaling, it might be worth it
      to you.

      5. Keep in mind that your journal is
      recording your emotional truth, as it is at the time at which you are writing
      it. If something were to happen to you and your closest loved ones read your
      journal, they would likely see a portrait of you. We all have these dark
      thoughts and dark times. If someone who loves you were to read it, it might
      create even a deeper intimacy between you. Another thing to keep in mind: your
      journal may be much more positive than you think. Go back and read your journal
      as though through someone else’s eyes. How do you feel about the person that
      your journal portrays? We often think that so much of our journal is negative
      when that is often not the case.

      6. Use your fear about your journal being
      read to gain insight into where you might not be acting completely
      authentically in your relationships. If you are terrified that your best friend
      would someday read your journal, ask yourself if there is something about your
      relationship with your best friend that isn’t being said. Could your
      relationship with her improve if you showed more of your true feelings?

      Nothing makes the journaling process totally
      secure, but you want to make sure you are comfortable enough with your own
      level of privacy (and your own system for guaranteeing that privacy) that you
      continue to journal.

      Dear Lifehacker,
      You’ve talked about keeping a work diary and an awesomeness journal , and I’m sold. One question: How can I set up my journal so I can edit and update it online on my phone or laptop without the world seeing it? I want a diary, not a blog!

      Keep a Work Diary to Minimize Mistakes and Document Successes

      A diary or log of the day’s events at the office can provide a valuable record of the things that…

      Keeping It To Myself

      Dear Keeping It To Yourself,
      You’re right – there are mental, creative, and emotional benefits to writing , even if you never let anyone see what you’ve written. We’ve discussed how even jotting down a few positive things every day can make a huge impact in your life. Still, keeping a work diary or a personal journal isn’t exactly something you’d want anyone to stumble on. You specifically said you wanted an online journal, so here are some ways you can get the flexibility to write and update when and where you want to without worrying that prying eyes will read it.

      Harness the Mental, Creative, and Emotional Benefits of Regular Writing

      Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where thousands of people…

      Use Apps Designed for Private Journaling

      Keeping a private journal used to mean writing in a notebook with a lock on it, or that you kept in a locked box. That’s no longer the case, and there are plenty of apps and web services that offer privacy and portability.

      Penzu started off as a simple, password-protected online journal, but the service is much more than that now. In addition to a password-protected journal that only you can read, you can also share specific posts with individuals if you want them to see them, or you can leave everything private and locked down. You can search past entries, add photos, customize the layout and look of your journal, and if you’re willing to spend a few bucks ($20/yr) you can get a Penzu Pro account, which offers iPhone, iPad, and Android apps so you can update on the go, full encryption for your journal, multiple journals and the ability to search all of them at once, reminders to write, and much more . Best of all, everything is locked down by default, so you can write what you want, when you want, wherever you want to, without worrying someone might stumble onto it.

      You keep hearing about Noom because it works
      Based in cognitive behavioral psychology

      You’ll always have the support you need
      In-depth personal coaching

      • Day One is a simple, elegant journaling app for OS X and iOS that encourages you to write every day. It’s specifically designed to help you keep a journal, and it comes packed with tools that make it easy to update your journal whenever the mood strikes. From a menubar drop-down that lets you start writing instantly to a fully featured editor for the iPad, Day One will help you start and stick to regular writing. It’ll cost you a few bucks ($10 for the Mac App, $5 for the universal iPhone/iPad app) but if you use it every day, it’s worth it.

      These are just the tip of the iceberg: there are plenty of services that offer free journaling apps, but the kicker is whether they’re available for your preferred platform or your mobile device. If you can’t find any that work for you, it might be time to take your thoughts to the web, but just make sure they’re locked down.

      Start a Blog, Just Keep It Private and Locked Down

      If you really want the ultimate in flexibility, publishing apps, web-accessibility, and other authoring tools, you might just want to start a blog. That doesn’t mean your blog has to be viewable to anyone but you, or even public at all. Most popular blogging platforms like WordPress , Livejournal , Squarespace , and even Tumblr allow you to create completely private entries or entire blogs that only you can see. That way you can leverage the free webapp and any mobile apps available (and there are tons for the major platforms) to update when you’re at your computer, on your phone, on your tablet, or on the go.

      Alternatively, if you don’t want to trust a free, hosted blogging service, you can always download blogging software like WordPress , Habari , Joomla , or Drupal and host it yourself, either on your own server at home or with a compatible web hosting company . Then you can control your own content, make it as public or as private as you choose, and access your journal anywhere. As long as you keep it locked down, you get all the features of a free blogging platform or an expensive journaling tool, just all under your control.

      Five Best Web Hosting Companies

      When you’re ready to take your data into your own hands and run your own blog, own your own…

      Go Simple with an Encrypted Text File Stored in the Cloud

      If fancy journaling apps and blogging platforms turn you off, or you just want something a little easier to get your arms around, there’s an easier option: Just write in your favorite text editor or word processor and keep the your journal entries on Dropbox .

      Dropbox is password protected, and there are clients for every OS and every mobile platform available, so you never have to be without your journal. If you keep your journal in a file format you can edit on any device, like a simple text file or rich text document, you can open it and update it on virtually anything, whenever the mood strikes. For ultimate privacy, go a step further and encrypt your journal with TrueCrypt so you really are the only person with access to it. Doing so trades some portability, since you’ll have to decrypt it before you can update or edit it, but it definitely keeps it secure.