Journaling with Evernote and why I switched from writing on paper

My dad has a childhood friend who we visit when we return to Korea. My dad is a fairly picky and critical person, and this friend is one of the few people I’ve never heard him criticize before. He lives outside Seoul in a smaller city, and the last time I visited, he showed me a thick volume of The Chronicles of Narnia in English, which he’d painstakingly marked with post-its in an attempt to better his English. I was impressed. Fantasy is difficult to understand even for native speakers.

What also impressed me was his journal. Maybe I should call it a log, since the journal is limited to about a sentence a day, with which he summarizes whatever noteworthy thing happened that day. The last time I visited, he pulled out a journal from several years before to see what we’d eaten for dinner the last time we were all together (it was duck).

I’ve always believed in the importance of keeping an account of my days. I’ve kept a paper journal for close to ten years now, and I have a drawer overflowing with various notebooks. When I look back at the entries from high school, carefully crafted in purple ink, detailing trivial conversations and happenings, it brings back some memories, although admittedly faded ones.

I’ve continued to write a journal to this day, but lately, I noticed that my logs were becoming infrequent. And when I did write entries, I tended to put in a minimal amount of effort, only putting down the bare skeleton of what I’d done that day, rather than recording my thoughts or feelings. Sometimes weeks would go by between entries, especially if I was busy with school and work.

And the reason is that I hate writing by hand, as blasphemous as that may be to say. I find it tedious, it hurts my hand, and I hold my pen in a position that smears ink onto the underside of my pinky. And because I hate writing by hand, this led to me dreading the act of writing and eventually writing shorter entries, to just get it over with.

So eventually I switched to writing my journal entries in Evernote. If you haven’t heard of Evernote, it might be difficult to understand what it is, because Evernote’s own descriptions of their product can be a bit vague. Basically, you can use Evernote to organize your thoughts in writing, photos, links, and whatever other content you find. I use it for the bare minimum: creating one notebook for each year, and writing one note for each day.

I was initially hesitant on moving to a digital format for my journal. As much as I dislike writing by hand, I still feel like handwriting has a more personal feeling than typing does. However, here are the benefits I’ve discovered to using Evernote:

  • I type much faster than I write, and this simply leads me to writing more. While my hand often struggles to keep up with my thoughts, I find that typing leads me to recording more of my thoughts.
  • Evernote is cross-platform! I mainly use the web app because my laptop is very old and I doubt I could install anything onto it at this point. The web app is clean and fine for what I need to do. I also have the Android app on my phone, where I can quickly glance at information if I need to.
  • You can upload pretty much anything onto Evernote. I can add photos, links, and whatever else to illustrate my day, with a minimal amount of effort.
  • And although I haven’t used this function, you can also create to-do lists in Evernote. I mainly rely on for my task management needs, but it seems handy to have everything in one place!

It felt like somewhat of a betrayal when I dropped my piles of handwritten journals to switch to Evernote, but it’s been a great experience so far that I would recommend to anyone. How do you like to journal?


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