Episode 331:Journaling and the Day One App With Kristen Wright
Rob Cairns sits down with Kristen Wright and talks about journaling and the Day One App.
- Why Journal?
- Types of journaling?
- Benefits of journaling.
- What is the Day One App?
Rob Cairns here and today I’m here with my guest, Kristen Wright, who works at the day one app, an automatic company. How are you today, Kristen?
I’m doing wonderful. Thank you so much. For having me on.
It was such a pleasure. And today you and I are going to have a little bit of a discussion about journaling and what it means to somebody productivity. And we’ll talk a little bit about the day one app as well. You get an interesting history. How did you end up with today one app and with automatic and? Tell us a little bit about your story.
Well, where do I begin? I actually worked as marketing director at I themes for about 11 years. So I transitioned over to the day one team at automatic last September and so that’s been a big change and a big move. For me, but an exciting one, just because journaling frankly is my passion and was. My hobby I’ve written a few books on the side about journaling, and so it just was a very. Natural and meaningful move for me to go work on the day one team but but in the WordPress space like I said for about 11 years. So it, you know, also seemed to make a lot of sense to move to automatic. And you were involved there, so.
That’s absolutely awesome, and I’ve had several automations on this show, so welcome to the show. It’s great to have you.
Ohh thank you so much. Thank you so much Rob.
Before we jump into journaling, I I want to lead with a bit of a story. Many, many years ago I have a dear friend of mine. Who came to me and she said I have my great, great, great grandfather’s journal and it. Back to the turn of the century. And she said to me, Rob, what’s the best way to share this with your family? And I said, well, I wouldn’t give them the original books because that’s a bit of a problem because if you lose them, you’re up a Creek. And I think there was at that time, 12 or 14 volumes. And I said maybe what we should do is scan these because they were all handwritten to the turn into centuries. So the family value on this was pretty. And it was really interesting to read her great, great, great grandfather’s look on things as a young 20 year old looking at the. At the world at that point, it was just such such a fascinating. Now what I’ll tell you is scanning that mess was a hell of a project and a. Lot of work so. But, but there’s one of the benefits to journaling is. You know you can see if you choose to share your journal, you can share your thoughts with others after you put them down. What do you think?
I mean, I think it’s interesting, a lot of the insights we have about history frankly come from Diaries and journals and you know, for example, Anne Frakes diary, there’s just so many examples throughout history and even just on the personal level to have that record of someones life. It’s just so insightful and just. Just so incredible.
And I I also tell people like I journal. So while sharing you for we went to record I journal every day I journaled every day for. Oh, probably 2530 years I started originally in Bound Books. Yes, I still have them. I’m in the process of actually digitizing those, so we’re going to get rid of the books because they just take too much space. A number of years ago I transitioned to. A Google doc. And one of the reasons they use a Google Doc is it’s so cross-platform and so non issue for me that that’s easy. And it’s funny because I always people always say to me around me. Can I read your journal? And my answer is no. I put stuff in there that if my friends or my family or my partner read not so much hurt, but other people, they would yell at me and say, did you really say what you said I did? Yeah, because that’s what it’s there for. But people have a connotation that Diaries and journals are all negative, and I don’t necessarily agree with that. What do you think?
I absolutely well, I would say both, right. Like I think that one of the key characteristics of a journal and a diary is it’s like the one place that you get to be completely honest and without, you know, the fear that someone’s going to be reading it or looking over your shoulder or giving you likes or, you know, any of that. Right. So I think that’s one of the key. Characteristics of a. Journal. I will say though that my first two books were my journals. I decided to publish, you know, 2-3 years worth of journals. And I think for me that was an exercise in vulnerability. You know, I’d really been exploring kind of. Just you know, just that journey through vulnerability and authenticity. And so as I had started to journal right, you know, write more about my life, my daily life. I decided to share it and so.
That’s awesome, Kristen. That’s really awesome and what I would say to people is if you want to and you’re afraid of this task of journalism and saying ohh, it’s one more task, what I would say is grab a book. And write start tonight and write one line or write 2 lines and then go from there. Do you think that works or do you think that’s a bad?
Ohh, I think that’s a wonderful way to start. I think you know start where you can. I think you know for a lot of people sentence a day is plenty. I think that’s why gratitude journaling is really a great way to start, because it doesn’t seem so overwhelming to write down a few things. You’re grateful for each day, or just write a sentence a day. You know, just about something that happened.
And there’s all kinds of, let’s talk about the different types of journaling. What do you think is the most important ways to journal?
You know, I think I’ve I’ve really found three different approaches to journaling that seemed to work for me and. The first one is just expressive writing and so this is kind of how I started. Journaling was just recapping my day, writing about what happened. You know, just kind of like my thoughts and feelings for me. I think I tend to live. In my head. A lot and just getting things out onto the page. Is really just clarifying and freeing, frankly. And Susan Kane, one of my favorite authors, has this really great quote about just the very act of writing something down transforms it, and that’s something I’ve seen a ton in the act of journaling. Is that just, you know, just putting something into words really transforms it, and I think that’s where expressive writing. Comes in the second one is for productivity. This is something I’ve actually started more of in the past six months since I joined automatic in the day one team is using journaling is kind of the clarifying, like mental clarity exercise every morning. You know that I have a template of prompts and questions that I ask myself every single morning. They always surprise me, even though I do it every single morning. But it just is really clarifying and it helps me be more productive and focused and and just so I feel you’re more centered every morning about like what I need to get done and how to move. 3rd the third one is gratitude journaling and you know gratitude. Journaling, I think is, I think, the culmination culmination of both of those things because during the, you know, while I was doing expressive writing, I think I I tended to want to focus on the good stuff that was happening in my life or the, you know, beautiful moments or the meaningful or significant things that. Happened every day, which is, you know, that is gratitude. And I think being more templated or prompt focused with your gratitude journaling. Just like what am I thankful for today and making? A list I always feel like a shift in my mindset every single time I do it, and there’s actually a lot of science and research behind gratitude journaling specifically, which I think is interesting, but those are the three that I. Tend to I tend to want to do the most when it comes to journaling.
Yeah, I would agree with you. I’m probably more expressive writer and I’m probably more a gratitude person in my journal. I tend to combine them and overlap depending on the mood I’m in, but for me that’s kind of the really important things. I think the biggest part about journaling and the hardest part people and we kind of said about how to start is routine. I think what works for a lot of people, it’s like I call it mental exercise for the head. If you want to kind of go there. So we all go for a walk. I go for a walk every day pretty well and that’s good for the physical side. But you still need to exercise the brain, and one of the reasons I exercise the brain is by journaling. And it’s just getting into that habit of doing it every day. And I’ll look at it before bed, but the odds are as the day goes, I’ve probably thrown three or four things into that journal during the course of they have already thrown one thing in this morning. So I mean, do you find it’s better to to find a time or just to write when you think you want to write?
You know, I think this is one of those questions I’m still wrestling with a little bit personally. You know, I had a son. Three years ago and that is. The changed my schedule up a. Bit, but you know having a toddler, but you know, in the past, finding a specific time of day to journal is really what worked has worked for me in the past. That was kind of before bed. I do not have the mental bandwidth to do that anymore. So mornings are really when I. I you know, I tend to journal and. As far as you know, my templated journals and the stuff that I do in the morning, I try to do spend the 1st 30 minutes of my work day journaling and and just blocking off that time and so creating that habit, getting into the routine is really what I think is the key to success, especially for me. Just like you know that I try to work out. At lunchtime and just like I need to build that routine in that like repetitive behavior. So I just like, don’t even have to make the decision. It’s just like what I do every day at 12:30 so.
And it’s funny. People who don’t understand routine say, how do you do this? How do you do this? How do you do this? And I say. Are you Are you ready to laugh, folks? It’s in my calendar. I actually take my calendar and I booked journaling time in before bed. I book reading time in before bed. I book exercise time in before dinner and it goes right in my calendar and people say, but I wouldn’t run my day that way and my response is well. That’s the problem. You don’t think about how running you. You run your day and you kind of fly by. You see your pants every day.
Yeah, I think that’s blocking off time, setting reminders. All of those things are one of those. You know, keys to success and you know, you’ve got, like, a lot of times these things that you want. To do aren’t going to just happen, you know, without you taking some sort of step or making some sort of sacrifice and. Yeah, I think the things that are most important to you, you’ve got to block time off in your day and you’ve got to schedule and build that habit.
So let’s jump into a little bit into the day one app and I personally think it’s an ideal platform for automatic because it’s all about democratizing publishing on the web. That’s been Matt Mullenweg’s goal since day one, I would say. And like, I mean it’s and you look at some of the acquisitions, there’s the day one app which acquired, there’s also a company called Pocket Cast which is a podcast company which they acquired. So I think it’s all in this line of how to how to democratize publishing. Do you think?
I totally see how day one fits into automatic submission. I think it it is interesting though. You know that I think so much of WordPress specifically as a blogging platform is kind of that. More like public. Facing and expressive and, you know spreading of ideas and democratizing. You know, publishing. I think though that for journaling this is more of an internal and a private space. You know, so, but I think making that available to everyone is really the important part, right? That everybody should have access to this kind of tool that, you know, enlightens, you, gives you a place to be introspective. In can ultimately, I think fuel the work that you put out into the world and that you share with everybody else.
Talk to me if you could speak around the features of the day one app like why would you want to go to a day one app versus pen and paper or versus say using like a a Word document or a Google Doc. Or something like that. Why would you prefer?
Yeah, I mean I I can speak to this personally a bit because I kept about. Eight or nine years of my journals in an app called Simple Note, which actually automatic owns as well. It’s a note taking app. Because, you know, I think at, you know that point in my life, I wanted to make journaling just. Let’s just keep it simple. Right? Like, let’s just I just need a text editing. Like I just need to be able to write very simple sentences and I don’t want to deal with even text formatting. I just want to get the thoughts out and move on from there. I also liked that it was date based. You know that like I could have a separate entry for each date and then I could kind of like. Organize my entries in that way because I think you know. At the end. Of the day, that’s still what the heart of. Journaling is about is kind of like that Daily Chronicle. And so there’s I actually moved to day one about two months into my interview process. As you know, I thought well, absolutely need to start using this app and I’ll say it’s but it’s transformed my own journaling practice. I cannot even believe that I was not using using the app. Journal because it’s just unlocked, so many other ways and approaches to journaling. For me, one of those is really just like the visual element of journaling, like just to be able to, like, upload photos from my camera roll. Especially since you know with day one, you can have separate journals. So now I have separate journals for like my son for example, like I’ve started keeping a journal for him and so I can upload a photo a day from like stuff we did like he just started. The ball and it’s been hilarious because, you know, he’s learning how to play T-ball. And so last night, you know, was just uploading a few photos from T-ball practice and. And I hadn’t really used multimedia in my journaling at all. But I think day one allows you to take journaling beyond just like the written word. And I think that’s where pen and paper falls short, right? Like if you want to add photos to your paper journal, that’s going to take a lot of work as far as, like printing things out and the expense of it. So multimedia uploads, I think is definitely one of the things. About day one, that’s. Really great and. I mean, that’s actually free for everybody. So if you know the free version allows you to upload, you know, a photo and you know, just, you know, it’s that’s just really useful. Secondly, I think is security and it’s really interesting because I even come from a security background and I haven’t really considered the fact that, like my journals really weren’t encrypted or secure. Like literally anybody could read if they wanted. And so being a day one now. I’m I really respect and admire that the work that they’re doing behind the scenes related to end to end encryption of your data like we can’t see any of your data, we can’t you know even if we wanted to, we can’t and so. I think that’s really important is that journals should be absolutely private and secure, and the fact that I, you know that day one offers into an encryption is a huge benefit. I I listened to a really interesting lightning talk at one of our meet ups about how the end to end encryption works, and I’m still trying to understand it. That’s how it’s just. It’s an amazing system and I think we’re going to actually try to unpack. That a little. Bit more for users just so they fully understand that like this is amazing, amazing technology. There’s other things in the app if you let me go on.
Talking to features of the app.
So there’s also some really great templating options, so I’ve really started to dig more into templates, as you know, like repeatable prompts that I ask myself every day, right? So, you know, I talked about my morning check-in prompt and so I built a template in day one. Now that I I use every single morning. The work morning and I think the you know the ability to be able to build repeatable formats for your journal entry. These unlocks the whole other like time saving feature. You know, that’s just it’s just amazing to be able to have that work already done. And so I don’t have to, you know, repeat, you know those questions? Another thing too that I’ll say I’m personally proud of is the prompts like there are daily prompts inside the app. For a lot of people, answering prompts is a really great way to get started, and so I’ve actually been able to start helping. You know, I’m helping write the prompts inside the app, and so every day you can get a new daily prompt. And I think that’s just a really amazing, you know, useful way that the app also can help you, you know, get started. Finally, 111 last one is there’s a feature called streaks, right? And so streaks are just like a visual view of the calendar and how many days you’ve journaled and so you can build your journaling streak and. We kicked off a new. Blog series called St. Stories. And I mean we have users who have been journaling every day for 4000 days or more. So they’re streaks of like over 800 years. I think the app really helps is is designed to help you build a daily journaling habit by having all these like time saving and features for encouragement.
That’s that’s really great. Now one day one started, it was, and correct me if I’m wrong, exclusively in in iOS, correct. And now it’s kind of branched out to Android as.
Well, yes we do. We have an Android app and some of the more active development is going on with Android. Actually as we try to get that app, you know with feature parity, you know, of course it’s been interesting since I don’t come from a mobile app background. It’s been super interesting to kind of learn and watch how development works and just how different the two platforms are, right? So it’s really hard to actually get feature parity between iOS and Android, but we are working on it and like just this past week. We introduced templates into androids and now you have templates which is something that you know the app lacked in the past. And I also say we just launched a. Web version too so. You can access your day one journal from your browser, so any browser.
I think I. Think for me what is and I was saying this to you before we went to record was kind of. Stop me from using day one and past is I’m an Android user number one. I’m also a web user so. That kind of opens some doors up there. I do have an iPad. I will say that, but I also look at my toolbox and most of the apps that I run are are cross-platform apps for exactly that reason.
And I think that’s why it’s been so important for us, you know, to try to get the Android app, you know, up to feature parity. And so we are putting a lot of time and effort and I mean the road map is really exciting. It’s been really, really fun to watch that team. Really, you know, you know, get down to business with getting those new. Features and updates pushed.
And I’m sure and people that don’t understand mobile development is it’s not a case of taking an iOS app and slapping it on Android or vice versa. There’s a lot of integration and a lot of work that’s involved and and I don’t think the end user has that appreciation value. They’re just like, why? And can it just be done overnight and wave a magic wand and be done with that kind of deal?
So, so glad you said that. Yeah, it is, it is. It’s just it’s. Yeah, it’s stuff I’m learning all about this. So it’s really interesting.
Before I got into marketing, Kristen, I’m an old time professional mainframe coder, so I I understand the intricacies of coding and. And that I don’t want a code anymore. I must admit I’m done. That I do, but I’m done with hard coding if I can avoid.
Don’t blame you.
It so I just, yeah, I’m just done.
I don’t blame you. Yeah.
We’ve talked a little bit about features. What’s the big differences between the free version and then the premium? If you can address those a little bit.
So the biggest I think you know, reasons to upgrade to premium are more just about taking the journaling that you’re doing to the next level. And so a lot of that has to do with, you know, unlimited photo and video uploads being able to do audio transcription. I think this is. Actually, one of the really. Cool features of Day 1-2 is that. If you don’t want to write, you can just record yourself speaking and the app will transcribe the text for you. So a lot of people use this. You know when they’re commuting or out on a walk. You know, we’ve heard some really interesting stories, you know, from people who, when they do their daily walk, that’s when they journal. And they just like talk into. The day one app and the app transcribes it. We also have some really interesting features related to book printing, so one of the cool things that you can do with day one is print your. We’ve seen some really amazing books that people have printed, and if you’re a premium user, you get 25% off your, you know, book printing, things like that. Gosh, what else? We literally were just compiling all of these new features because one of the interesting things about, you know, day one is as they’ve added more features, it’s been difficult to have the website. Up so, but I would. Say like the the biggest thing is. Just that you get unlimited photo. And video uploads. And a little, you know, several more customization options. You know that you can. Add journal colors. You know more premium colors to your app or change the icon on your phone which a lot of people really love. Those customization options and things like that? Oh, the other one too. I guess this would. Be a big one. Is that you get unlimited devices, so you can use day one on all of your devices. So your MacBook, the Mac App comes free. If you got a premium. On your iOS device, your iPad or even your Android device? If so, you can use day one on all those devices and it would all sync across.
And what are we talking about in cost? For the premium version.
Yeah, it’s 3499, a year. And so, yeah.
And and to me, we’re talking 349090 years. That’s less than a couple cups of coffee a month. So if you’re afraid of that price tag, I’d be thinking about it and saying, geez. I should be really looking into this because that’s a drop in the bucket.
Yeah, I mean. Especially if you’re, you know, you buy physical journals, right? Like, I think most physical journals are gonna cost you around $20, and that’s a one time, you know? Yes. So.
And I and I think the whole key with day one and I’ve worked at the iOS version on my iPad a couple of times is it’s the customization as you talked about. It just makes it easier. So then there’s no. That one-size-fits-all. You’ve recognized that and then you’ve got the templates in there that you’re using just to make your life a little easier. And your journaling process more streamlined. And I think that’s a. Really important factor.
And I mean those, the templates all come free too. So I mean the free versions of the templates and the ability to edit templates are. In the free version of the app too.
And besides the Android Road map, is there anything coming down the pipe that you can share or?
I I think I can talk about this because our founder has mentioned it on Twitter, but we’re actually working on shared shared journals. So just like the ability to share within a very private network, a journal and so. A lot of people, especially families, you know, have requested this functionality to be able to share, you know, just, like, collaborate on journals, especially now that I have a son, I can see the use case for this that, you know, if I wanted to have a journal that I share with my mom or, you know, my my siblings and. You also have children. We have a shared journal where we’re uploading, you know, photos sharing. I think this, you know, takes on social networks, frankly, just that it’s really still hard, amazingly, to have a more private social network. And this could be a really interesting. I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting to see how this takes on and if it resonates with people, but we’re really excited about it.
So what I would argue is on a social network, you don’t have. The control over your data or what you do with it and this kind of brings the control a little bit back into the. End user and. To me that that’s a big deal and and we all know in social networks the rules keep changing by the day or by the month, right? So it makes it harder.
And I, you know, one of the things that’s really important for day one too is just like the ability to export your data, right? Like we don’t want to own your data, so. That’s again one of those issues that, you know, everybody’s running into with Facebook and Twitter especially, it’s just, you know that the data isn’t yours like it’s not so.
I think the only big social media company that does exporting data really well is Google. I mean, frankly, Google’s got a. A cool feature called take out that you can export all your data out, but everybody else it’s really hard with day one. What format does the data export into?
Yeah, you can export into PDF, CSV, JSON, I. Think that that that covers it, but just. You know, the fact that I mean frankly when you do the book printing part of the app, you can export it as like a single PDF. That’s the formatted book which I. Think is really cool like. You don’t have to pay for that, so yeah.
Can you import data into? Into day one app. So say you’ve got some text journals that go back six months and you say I want to import this, can you do? That, or do you have?
To talk right now, you can import via JSON, but we that is one of things we’re looking at expanding is import functionality. So there’s still, you know some limitations there. In fact, I you know, I’ve joked with the team about, like, creating a. Simple note import. Export import because obviously I’ve got a lot of data and simple note that I’m trying to to migrate over so.
The the benefits of being a podcast host is you can ask that selfish question. My my brain was already there so I. Really appreciate you jumping on and talking about the benefits of journaling and talking about today. One app, I mean, anybody who hasn’t tried journaling, I would. OK. Try it today if you haven’t, because I think it’s mental health exercise for the head, so it’s really important and and it’s really important to most people’s professional development. If somebody wants to get a hold of you, talk about day one app or anything else in journaling. How’s the best way?
Well, I’m still on Twitter for now, so you can definitely reach out to me on Twitter. Kristen Wright, under score, frankly, I mean, if you want to e-mail me, you know, kristen.rightautomatic.com. I I I mean, I guess if I can, I mean if I want to give just my own very honest journey with journaling, is it changed my life? I you know it kind of. Makes me sad that. I didn’t discover it until I was in kind of my late 20s because I feel like I missed out on remembering. A lot of by life. If that makes sense. That journaling has just made me be more present in my life and pay attention. It’s it’s given me so many interesting insights into. My behavior or? Reactions and I I I don’t know who I would be without journaling, frankly. So it is. The single most important thing I do every day.
I would second that with a wholeheartedly smile, because I’m I there so. Thanks, Kristen, you have an awesome day and a great weekend.
Thank you so much. This was really fun. I really, really appreciate the conversation.
Yeah. Thank you.