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How to use your phone in your journalling practice

Phones are often lambasted as the technological root of all evil, but they aren't going anywhere. So I prefer to find ways to bring my phone into my journalling practice, and make it a useful addition, instead of a distraction. In this post, I'll discuss four ways that I use my phone as a journalling tool.

  • Audio Journalling: I think of this as the audio version of Julia Cameron's stream of consciousness. Sometimes I just let my messy thoughts come out as they need to, when my hand can't write fast enough to keep up with the thoughts in my mind, or when I just don't feel like picking up a pen. The recorder app on my phone provides auto-transcription, which you could then transfer to an online journal if you have one. I don't go to this effort. Often it's just enough that I've got it out. I used to do this a lot when I had hour-long drives to work. I was surprised at what just slipped out when I wasn't overthinking it. 

  • Notes App: Most of my writing is done in the notes app. I've a brain like a sieve and if I don't catch a thought quickly, it's often gone. I love that the notes app of my phone is there when a journal may not be, and it means that journalling can always fit in with your life. Maybe your ideal time is while you're waiting for or on a train, during lunch or while you're parked in your car just before you pick up the kids. A pretty journal is great, but the one that you actually use, no matter what it looks like, is always going to be better. 

  • What you 'save' or screenshot:  I like to think that our sub-conscious is regularly speaking to us through all of our senses, interactions and what we consume. And in the digital and social media spaces, I find there to be no places more telling that what we 'save' on Instagram or to YouTube playlists, pin on Pinterest, like on Twitter or often even more telling, what we take screenshots of. The stuff that stirs and can be seen by no one but us. 

I like to ask questions about what sticks. Is there a running theme? What area of life does it speak to? What about the image or the words made me save it? Is it about inspiration, aspiration, jealousy, desire, envy or motivation? 

  • 'On this day' photo reminders: This photo came up in my phone the other day via Google's 'On this day' photo reminders, and I've really enjoyed using them as another curious way to use my phone as a tool in journaling.

Prompts that I've been using when they come up include: 

  • Where were you? Who were you with?
  • Was this a typical day?
  • What were you trying to capture?
  • If you can remember, what was the general mood of the day?
  • If you had put the camera in selfie-mode at the time, what would you have seen? What expression would have been on your face?
  • What was going on outside of shot?
  • What has changed since this photo was taken?

Reflecting a year later, here's what the photo that heads up this post represents:

January 2021. On furlough. I'd moved out of London and was living alone in lockdown (3.0?) following a break-up. I was very tender-hearted. Though my days were often stained with tears, I remember there also being this other feeling of excitement at putting my own stamp on a place and seeing myself reflected in my surroundings. I remember it being important to demonstrate to myself from day one that I alone was worth setting the table for. 

What's changed since this photo was taken? I moved even further out of London and don't have that job anymore (thank goodness). My dreams are more vivid. I don't always believe it, but it is easier for me to try a ting. I still miss him. I wear my hair in locs now. That Peloton wasn't just a lockdown purchase - 62 weeks and counting. Dad is better. I've made some fantastic new friends. I have no real plan anymore, and mostly that feels okay because I trust myself to a level where I only need know the next right thing. Peace and space are my guiding lights and grounding anchors.