Journaling is an exercise that many people use in their personal and professional lives for many reasons. It’s easy to do and it’s a great way to get things out of your head. If you’re struggling with productivity, it can even help you channel your focus and better allocate your time so that you can get as much done in a day as you want.
Of course, like anything new, it can be hard to get serious about writing in a journal. You have to have the willingness to be open with yourself and the commitment to spend time writing in your journal in the first place. That’s more difficult for some than others. There are several modern journal apps and tools that are working to make it easier, more accessible, and perhaps even more secure, when it comes to putting your heart and soul on the page.
Studies have shown that journaling, even as a way to record your day’s events, can increase creativity and performance, improve health and happiness, and more. So, if you’re getting on board for these benefits or others, you have a lot of options to choose from. You could use the note-taking app on your phone or computer, but the features and options there are probably pretty limited. Investing in a dedicated journal app is always the better option.
But what makes a good app for journaling in the first place, anyway?
· Affordability: There are some free tools out there, as well as some affordable paid options. There are also some high-end options for journaling that are geared more toward professional writers and other niche markets, so don’t worry about those.
· Ease of Use: If it’s more than a few clicks to create and edit a journal entry, forget about it. It should be easy to use and integrate into your lifestyle. Otherwise, the chances of you actually using the tool are slim.
· Sharing and Exporting: Choose a platform that is available on all the devices you want and that it can sync across devices so that you can keep it updated everywhere and never have to worry about whether you have the right device to make an entry. You might also want to consider whether there’s an export option in case the app shuts down or you decide to go to a different one.
· Reminders: The habit is the hardest part of journaling. Developing a new habit takes at least a couple of weeks for most people. Many of the journaling apps today have integrated reminders to check in daily (or however often you choose) and remind you to make a new journal entry.
· Simple Interface: You don’t want it to be too bare bones, but you want a minimalist design. This will help reduce the clutter that can create anxiety and make apps feel clunky. That way, you can focus on your journaling and let your thoughts flow freely.
There are tons of other features to consider, such as password protection and the ability to add tags to your posts, but the ones here should be at the top of your list. You might also want to look into photo uploading abilities and whether the journal offers prompts to help you get inspired. Not everyone likes prompts, but they’re quite effective for some people.
So, now that you know more about what to look for, let’s discuss the best journaling apps on the market today. Each has its own features and benefits to consider, but they all have something to offer the busy professional who needs a way to reconnect with themselves or just keep track of their hectic life.
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Day One has always been one of the leading journaling apps. Since its debut in 2011, it’s even made the Editor’s Choice in the Apple App Store several times. Of course it has, though, with robust journaling features like one-click entry creation, automatic metadata additions, hashtags, and even the chance to add photos and videos to your posts. The tool even includes prompts to help you get inspired.
With Day One, you can create multiple reminders to get yourself in the habit of journaling. You can even password protect everything and format every entry in Markdown. Plus, it’s a simple design and it offers free access to the core features for those who don’t want to pay. Subscribers can have access to premium features like syncing, handwritten entries, and more.
Plus, it’s just $2.92 per month if you get it billed annually. That’s about what you’d spend on a nice leather-bound journal, and it’s got so much more to offer.
Diarium is a great choice because it allows users to add multiple types of media to a single journal entry. You'll no longer have to be worried about whether you want to add this photo or that video or deal with creating separate entries for media because you can do it all with this app. It's got a simple interface with big, easy-to-read buttons that let you create entries, add tags, add audio and other files, and more.
You can even use the handy rating feature to rate your entries. This could be helpful for productivity or mood tracking, for example. This app also syncs with a variety of cloud services and allows you to export files in multiple formats.
Diarium is free on Android, iOS, and Mac, or you can pay for the pro version at $4.99 for Android and iOS and $8.99 for Mac. It costs $19.99 for Windows 10.
Penzu is one of the best options for secure journaling that is available today. You can use it on the web or access it via iOS or Android. It’s a lot like using a WordPress editor to create a post, offering a text formatting toolbar and plenty of other features. It also keeps everything neatly organized in one place and reminders are available to help you get into the habit of journaling.
Penzu keeps everything private and 100% secure. Penzu lets you use 128-bit encryption free and Pro users upgrade to 256-bit encryption. Plus, it’s easy to use and it gives you the option for tags and other advanced features from the pro version. The free version is available with fewer features.
If you want full access, you can spend just $19.99 per year to upgrade to a Pro plan and take your journaling to the next level.
Grid Diary is a great option for those who like structure, templates, and guidance. The interface is set up like a grid and you can create custom headers for all the sections, with default titles in place to help get you started. This is kind of like a bird’s-eye view of your day and allows you to create an organized place to reflect on and manage your life.
You'll also find the ability to sync between devices, attach documents, and even use the calendar to review entries and more. Unlike some of the freeform apps out there, Grid Diary keeps things structured for those who want something a little more rigid. Plus, there’s a free version available for those who just need the basics.
If you do want premium access, you don’t have to spend much. The paid version of Grid Diary is available for Android, iOS, and Mac for just $2.99 per month.
Developed for iOS and Android, this app is great for beginners who want to start getting more in touch with themselves. It also makes it simple, asking you three questions each morning to help you create purpose and find gratitude in your day. Then, you get reflection questions in the evening that allow you to see how things went. It’s all based in science, super easy to use, and can be done in five minutes or less.
Five Minute Journal allows you to add a photo to your entries and export PDF versions for your own records. There aren’t freeform pages and you’re limited to using the prompts given, but that is part of the allure for a lot of people. If you just need a quick place to jot down your gratitude and reflect, this app has you covered.
Plus, while it isn’t free, it’s only going to cost you $4.99 to download and use as much as you want.
If you want to make journaling easy on yourself, this web tool is one of the best options. With Dabble Me, all you have to do is reply to an email each day and you’ve completed a journal entry. That's right—the app will email you each day to remind you to journal when you pay for the pro version. Then, you simply write a reply and you’re done.
With the free version, you can still email a custom address, but you won’t get the daily reminders. The website allows you to access an archive of your entries, look at a calendar view, and even check out Spotify links that you added to your other entries. You can export files, too, in case you decide to shut it down.
It’s free to get started and if you want the reminders and other features, it’ll cost you just $3 per month to start.
If you’re not a writer, no worries. Daylio offers a journaling app that doesn’t require you to be the least bit poetic. You can report your mood, record activities, and do it all with visuals instead of words. Plus, for those who do want to make notes, you can add them to the files if you choose. It only takes a few minutes to finish an entry, too.
Daylio has the ability to export and can offer reminders to help get you in the habit of journaling. It even allows you to set goals and has an aggregate chart of your monthly mood, activity, and more. It's more than a journaling app and offers a unique experience for people who want something different than the average journal.
The app offers a free version to keep it simple, but if you want to gain access to everything, you’ll have to pay $2.99 a month.
Studies have shown that writing things down helps in several different ways. It makes ideas more “real” to people. It can help you remember things more easily. It can even motivate you to push harder toward your goals when you see them on paper. There's a lot that you can gain from journaling. You can use it to develop better daily habits, track and improve your mood, keep tabs on your life, and so much more.
Modern journaling apps provide you with a little bit of everything, as you can see from the list here. It’s all about getting in touch with yourself and spending the time on your own needs that you spend on your business, family, and the world around you.
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