Saturday, January 2, 2016

Simple Single Sentence Journal Using DO Note from IFTTT

[Update - 2/1/16] Here's a brief video demo that will walk you through the steps to create your own single sentence journal in Evernote using DO Note from IFTTT.

I love journaling.

Umm. Let me rephrase. I love the idea of journaling.

In the past (read: ages 10-23), I kept paper journals filled with my dreams, observations and silly sketches. But, writing on paper with an actual pen isn't something that I make time for anymore. (And when I attempt to, my hand cramps up after 4 sentences. Weakling.) Now, a bit of typing? That is a different story. That I can do! I don't need to carry around a paper notebook and a writing utensil, and then worry about misplacing the journal and who might happen upon my ridiculous rambling thoughts. All I need is my phone or tablet.

I switched to keeping a digital journal in the past year, relying on my favorite digital organization software: Evernote.

In my Journal notebook, I create notes and upload photos documenting memorable moments, blurbs from hilarious conversations with my husband and random thoughts about life that pop into my head. I can sit and type at my computer when I have a little time during the day, or I can use the Evernote app on my phone to record my thoughts in an audio format (or simply type them).

Using Evernote has made journaling something that I enjoy (on occasion) again. But, I've been considering how to motivate myself to maintain a more consistent chronicle of my life.

Everyday events, it turns out, make us far happier to remember than we expect. So while a simple coffee date with an old friend or a night in cooking for your better half might not seem worth remembering, thinking back on these simple occurrences actually can bring us great pleasure later on. - Jessica Stillman, 'Can Just a Sentence a Day Make You Happier?'

And I think I've stumbled upon a simple way to do just that. I'm going to give it a try for 2016.

It all started when I read this article on Lifehacker about keeping a 'single sentence journal', quoting this post from Jessica Stillman on where she shared the concept promoted by author Gretchen Rubin (PS - I'm currently making my way through The Happiness Project by Rubin. It's a wonderful read).

I loved the idea and knew I wanted to automate the process as much as possible, to increase the likelihood of me sticking to it.

Enter DO from IFTTT. (If you aren't familiar with IFTTT, check out my post about this wondrous tool.) There are 3 flavors of the DO app - Note, Button and Camera. Each allows you to perform an action by tapping on a widget on your phone.

In this case, I want to create a log of sentences for each day. I used this recipe to get started, and then customized it to add entries to a Google Document.

I created a widget on my homescreen that fires up my DO Note recipe with a quick tap.

I type my sentence for the day and click on the Drive (or Evernote) button.

The resulting document will be updated with each entry I add.

I customized the formatting a bit so that the date is appended after my entry and italicized. (Basic HTML formatting is supported.)

After I tested the recipe and found that it works well, I decided that it would make more sense to create the entries in Evernote, since that's where my main journal is. So, I'm going to create a new recipe to add each sentence to a note in Evernote.

I'm really excited about this elegantly simple solution. All I have to do is click that button each day and write one sentence. That sounds just easy enough that I might be able to stick to it.

Have you found a way to automate and simplify a process in your life with Evernote, Google Apps, IFTTT or other tools? Share your success in the comments!

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