Ask HN: Has journaling improved your life?

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  • markwhen

    Make a cascading timeline from markdown-like text. Supports simple American/European date styles, ISO8601, images, links, locations, and more.

    I realized just over the weekend that the side project I'm working on is in fact a kind of journaling language. It has passed through a number of iterations, started out as a timeline maker (and still does that best), but at the end of the day is a spec for writing what happened when. Or indeed what you hope will happen in the future - I find it's a good planning tool too.

    I find myself actually journaling now that I don't have to think about where I'm going to do it, or in the case of most note-taking apps, which note I should put my current thought in. Journal it first, and if it deserves to be somewhere else, move it later.

    The project is

  • zim-desktop-wiki

    Main repository of the zim desktop wiki project

    I journal infrequently. Used to use physical journals and still do occasionally, mostly use the journal plugin in Zim ( now, plus git for edit history. I also use Zim for non-dated notes.

    I have a poor memory, so I like having minor life events documented, and documenting them probably helps me remember them in the first place. It's also good for working through and solidifying whatever I've been thinking about lately.

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  • logseq

    A local-first, non-linear, outliner notebook for organizing and sharing your personal knowledge base. Use it to organize your todo list, to write your journals, or to record your unique life.

    Eventually I realized that if I asked myself that at weekly, monthly, and yearly levels (usually just "highlights" of the previous cadence, restarted) I realized that I had managed to do a lot better in my life than it seems like in the everyday struggle (I also realized from that that I had some self-esteem and outlook issues to work on, haha.)

    After fighting with all sorts of fancy "knowledge management" systems like zettelkasten and whatever, and mostly failing despite my job basically being having to deal with all sorts of random things other people throw at me which will eventually come back to bite me if I don't figure out the larger system, I realized that if I started adding a sort of wiki component to my journal software, I could tag my daily logs and eventually sort of look at entire subjects I've had to learn, observation by isolated observation, in a sort of holistic way, which was way easier on my brain than trying to conceptualize it all in one focused go (or even those kinds of "deep work" sessions people often talk about. I learned around this time that I had focus issue :D)

    So yeah, I journal _a lot_, and everything has ended up building layers for almost everything I need help getting my brain to deal with, whether it be emotionally, or cognitively. It starts off as a moment-by-moment log (even if written all in one go in the evening before I go to bed, if I don't have the mental togetherness or ability to write it throughout the day as I do stuff.) and I have found all sorts of ways to take those chunks and rearrange them for all sorts of other purposes.

    Honestly, it's the only way I personally can function now, dumping as much of my brain into a journal and not having it bounce around my head to stress me out.

    I didn't invent these techniques, it's a frankenstein of a lot of different productivity and mental health ideas I've found on the internet or talking to other people.


    I don't know if my particular _choice_ of journal matters, but it's a bunch of text files that my editor that has some scripting libraries for journal macros and now wiki macros. I know nowadays people do this kind of thing with software like Logseq (, and that's where I'd probably start if I was doing it today.

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