Last year I took an amazing family history class. One week was focused solely on journal writing and recording your daily life as it happened. She gave some great examples, tips, and suggestions on how to do this for the year and gave us a goal to spend only 8 minutes every day writing in our journal. 8 minutes is not very long. You can fold a batch of laundry in 8 minutes, we often waste at least 8 minutes on social media, often we’re waiting in lines or for kids or something for 8 minutes.
I used to be very good about writing in my journal, and have volumes of them. But from the time I got married that habit has fallen apart. Which is sad, since these last 12 years have been some of the most changing, growing, and learning years for us. We have started our marriage, our family and have so much to write about because life is constantly changing. I have things here and there, and am trying to consolidate what I do have in one location, but how sad that I don’t have a regular account of these last 12 years and the growth we have gone through.
So when I heard her challenge I felt it was doable and decided to take her up on it this last year. Although I was not perfect at it, by the end of the year I had 160+ typed pages for my journal for the year. And even those days where I didn’t get a whole entry written I was able to write a one or two sentence synopsis of what happened during the day.I am so glad I did it. I actually have a good yearly record for 2014.
I also had the kids do a journal page a couple of times a week, which I took and bound for Christmas this year.
Obviously some of their journals have more pages than others, and some entries are as exciting as “Mom told me if I write in my journal today I can go play at the Page’s house.” But you know what? I don’t care. They each have their own little history for the year of what they’ve done. They’ve illustrated parts of it, and they will be so glad to have these when they are older and have children of their own. Beau and I wrote a little note at the beginning of the journal letting them know how and what we were proud of this year for each of them individually too.
At the end I went through all of our pictures for the year and copied out any pictures that was about them or had them as the main subject. I then just used the option for printing wallets 9 to a page to keep it simple from the computer’s printing option and saved it as a pdf. I then took it to the printers and printed off anywhere from 5-6 colored pages of photos for each of them and put it at the back of their journal. It was fast, easy and simple. Now they each have their own history for the year. They were pretty proud of it too when they saw it all put together and finished for the year.
So here’s 2 tips my teacher Anne Lewis taught me that I really liked implementing in my journal and made it actually doable for the year.
- Write the date, place of writing, and 1-2 sentences of what happened for the day before each entry. And then the time you are actually writing the journal entry, such as 8:35 am. If you are remember a day and writing about it days later don’t put the time of recording. The purpose of the time is so you know whether or not your journal entry was written in real time at the actual time of the event or if you are looking back on it and recording it. Both will have a different perspective, based on when it was written. And this lets you identify those entries. Here are a few examples of how I did that this last year.
August 30, 2014
Provo, Utah – home
Savannah’s birthday, Beau home, Brandon Call’s 40th birthday – BBQ, Met Alex’s girlfriend, Temple session
Monday – September 1, 2014
Provo, Utah – Home
Labor day, Plumbing all backed up, had plumbers come check it out, They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. Had to go to church for restrooms. Afternoon at Laundry mat doing laundry, FHE on being grateful.
Friday – September 5, 2014
Jackson – Wyoming, Star Valley Wyoming
Jackson for Anniversary, Dinner at the Bunnery, Allergy attack, Geocaching on mountain, Dutch oven dinner with grandma and grandpa Tippetts, ride on the new razor, hotdogs at bank, cutting wood, Drove to Shelley Idaho for Family Gathering.
The best reason for writing those one or two sentences is that if you don’t have time to write a full entry right then, you at least have some general ideas for the day. A pretty decent picture of what happened. It also makes it really easy to go back on a Sunday afternoon when you might have more time to look at your summary and then write a more detailed entry about that day.
2. Decide if you want to have a typed journal or write by hand. I chose to do a typed journal this year. Here are the things I loved about doing that this year.
- I can type faster than I write.
- I ended up using evernote most of the time for this. It was portable program on multiple devices. So I could type on my computer, my phone or tablet. They were all synced with each other. So if I had time somewhere besides home where I was waiting I could write a journal entry. I then later would go through and copy and paste those entries in my evernote journal into a final word document on my computer. You could also pasts posts on facebook or other social media sites into your final word document.
- I could add pictures to my journal entry with my device in evernote, Or add pictures to my word document if I wanted. I could also easily copy and paste something from journal to a blog post, or a facebook post, or in a family newsletter. etc.
- Searching… this was the best tool in the end. If wanted to find an entry about something specific, I could use ctrl + f or the program’s search option and type in someone’s name, or an event to find that specific entry. It saves tons of time from going through each page and entry.
- If you want to keep some separate records or journals for your children or spouse, this method made it easy. At the end of the year, do a search for their name, go through your whole journal and copy and paste it into a new document to create their own journal or accounts you’ve recorded about them. Then I am keeping one master journal rather than 7 for all the members of my family.
- If you do want a hard copy of your journal, there are lots of publishing places out there you can easily print out a hard copy when you are finished.
Writing in my journal daily proved such a blessing. I find that I slept better at night when I had taken my 8 minutes before bed to hash out the day quickly. I was able to work through problems or emotions easier. I felt like I have a great record for the year. And after reading through 2014, I can say “wow it really was a hard year, it wasn’t in my imagination.” I have proof! I can see how we learned and grew as a family, and how we handled trials or things that came into our lives. All of the good and the bad.
So if you aren’t the best at writing in a journal try the challenge of writing for just 8 minutes a day. Only 8 minutes. It was so rewarding to see how those 8 minutes added up at the end of my year.