Stopped the Journaling Streak

I had an 823 day journaling streak going in DayOne. For awhile I was proud of having a 2+ year streak going. But then it was getting to be a burden and I found myself writing entries like “I’m writing this entry just to keep my streak going.” I finally decided this is stupid, if I don’t have anything to say today, I’m just not going to do it.


Good call!

I have an 1162 day streak going tracking my calories. It’s actually a little disturbing when I think about it.


Congratulations. I support more flexible streak counts most of the time (rest days for Apple Fitness rings, carryover extra credit on writing goals, and so on.)

I’ve journaled every day since February 11, 2011 (4,391 days). I tried Day One, but for the past several years, I’ve preferred to keep everything in a Word document (one per year).

I’m not trying to sway you one way or the other as far as keeping a streak goes (streaks can be motivating to some and demotivating to others), but here are some suggestions if you want to continue with your journaling:

  • Journal at a time when you won’t feel pressured to journal. For example, don’t do it if you’re tired and journaling is the only thing between you and your bed. Don’t squeeze it in as one last thing to check off your to-do list before you go pick up your kid from school. Give yourself time and space to do it.
  • “Today sucked. I didn’t get any work done. I went to McDonald’s for dinner. I’m exhausted.” That’s a valid journal entry. If you see a lot of those in a row, that is valuable information to have, and you can then look at the broader picture and figure out why you’re feeling that way. Same thing goes for “I’m writing this entry just to keep my streak going.” Why are you feeling that way? Why don’t you feel like writing more?
  • If you think you don’t have anything to say, literally just write about what you did that day. When you woke up. What you had for breakfast. What you got done. What you didn’t get done. What you had for dinner. What the weather was like. What you spent money on. You don’t have to be profound. There is immense value in simply going back through your day and having that all documented.
  • Writing necessarily isn’t the best medium for everyone. I enjoy writing (and all of my entries have been written), but give yourself leeway in how exactly you journal. Take a picture instead. Paste in a quote or song lyric that you like. Or just write a little bit. Write a single sentence.
  • Long-term journaling is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself. Doing pages and pages of emotionally charged journaling daily isn’t sustainable. Do whatever is sustainable for you.
  • Remember that the streak is a tool, a means to an end. It’s the journaling—or more precisely, what you get from it—that’s the important part. Frequency doesn’t matter as long as you derive value from the journaling when you do do it.

This is good advice, I think part of my problem is I had a reminder at 10 pm to journal. I would often be tired and unmotived by then. I think it is better to journal when I have some energy, like maybe at lunch time or something like that.


It might be worth re-asking yourself why you journal. It’s unlikely to be “so I can record a long streak”. There is value in consistency and self-discipline, but the value of a journal is in the process of observing, recording and reflecting, not that you make yourself do it.


One of the reasons I decided to start journaling is a conversation I had with someone who was writing a book about his experience working in human rights. The events he was writing about happened 30 - 40 years in the past and he was lamenting how hard it was to remember the details. It was hard to even remember what year a particular event happened, let alone the exact day.


Good advice. Also, just discovered your YouTube channel, love it. That kind of content is right up my alley. Let me know if you ever get up to the MidWest and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.

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I am interested that you use Word to journal. I use Day One, probably out of habit, but also because it is easy to search, syncs between devices, and I have a template that meets my needs. I am not trying to find a deep insight into my soul through journalling; simply to keep a short record of things I have done that I will not otherwise remember.
I have retrospectively added paper diary entries dating from the 1960s to Day One, and this has proved interesting and useful. Day One makes it very easy and has an attractive and useful interface, but I pay for that privilege when I have alternative “free” apps available. I also have some reservations about committing my personal history to such a service with respect to privacy, or if it were to suddenly shut down.
I am looking at alternatives to Day One, but if I take that route it will be with a reasonably time-proof text or markdown format.

I journal for work first, usually a simple “what I did today and who I saw”, up to “an engineering notebook for the long difficult jobs” and personal as warranted. I don’t get too personal, though.

Started with Diarly, but it started adding features I didn’t want and got in the way of writing. Easy to export. Used many other apps. Waiting for Bear 2.

Whatever tool works best for you is the app to use.

I really don’t like the idea of streaks - for me, at least, I think they are pretty unhealthy.

A while ago, and by coincidence I found I had read on my Kindle everyday for about 250 days. I hadn’t noticed it before, then all of sudden it became a thing. Unfortunately I took my kindle on a business trip when it had not been powered and thus the streak was broken. I was really uopset about it. Same happened when I lost an Apple watch streak when it just didn’t register steps. Again I got really quite annoyed.

Now as soon as I realise I am entering streak mode I delibrately break it.


I am currently on a streak of almost 23K days of …
not keeping track of anything streak-like, so I agree 100% with your sentiment.

Some people feel the need to scratch certain itches, and others don’t.
We do what we do to be who we are, right?


Excellent advice.

Often my journal is simply a dry record of one or two events of that day. I’m OK with that.

I’ve started to think of journal entries as social media posts written for an audience of one–my future self. (This is not an original thought to me.) This is actually not perfect; it makes me reluctant to write truthfully when I’m feeling down.


FWIW I struggled with journaling off and on for years. I tried to follow journal the last thing before you go to bed advice that so many people give. But it never worked for me. Instead I switched, I journal usually first thing in the morning after I’ve had breakfast and checked the weather and news. Sometimes I’m on fire with clear ideas from the night before of what I need to get done early in my prime time and I put off journaling until I take a break usually about 9am (I generally wake up at 5 or so) but either way works. Try to do it at the end of the day and they are not useful journals for me.

So my journals are always looking back to yesterday. But it works for me.


Good idea, I have the most energy in the morning. I will try doing it after breakfast and see if that works better for me.

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I really like what you say here. And, like others, I struggle with streaks “becoming a thing,” with anxiety and feeling a need outside of what is natural.

I have been a DayOne user since it first came out, but have been off & on over the last decade. Part of the “off” time was hand-writing in a paper journal, part of it was trying to journal in a PKM. I started with Roam when it first came out, then switched to Obsidian, then Craft, now I use both Craft and Obsidian for different things, but haven’t been journaling at all for a while.

I still subscribe to DayOne and use it occasionally. I am over trying to maintain or worry about a “streak” though. I have mainly used journaling as a means of reflecting on my days/life and occasionally capturing special moments.

Over the last 3 years I have been dealing with a diagnosis of ALS and what that means around journaling. Part of me wants to capture my thoughts for my wife, kids, and grandson, and I have been thinking plain text using markdown is more permanent and future proof than DayOne. At the same time, DayOne’s physical books are fairly appealing too!

It’s something each of us have to figure out for ourselves… and each of our wants and needs is likely slightly different. Certainly, my new use case feels much more finite. :joy:


I agree about the streak option in DayOne. It’s almost like a “stresser” if you don’t continue the chain….but for me it keeps me motivated.
I have been using Day One for just over 10 years pretty much continuously but l have had a day or 2 break here and there.
I write my journal when l get into bed…and just recap on what I did for the day. Sometimes it is quite boring…what l did at work…what we had for dinner….yet other days there’s lots to say.
I especially love it when we are travelling as l always try to add lots of photos and videos.
The best part of DayOne once you do get some history behind you is the daily “you did this on this day….1, 2 8 years ago” .
My husband and l will then reminisce about that days trips…outings, gatherings, new purchases etc.
It’s also great to be able to search when certain big “events” happened. Time flies by so quickly that l’ll swear it was a year or two ago…only to find it was 6 or 7…!!