The choice between analog journaling on paper and digital journaling in an app like Howdy is not as easy as it seems. There are various things to consider like the ease of journaling, ease of access, privacy, and flexibility.
Ease of journaling
To make journaling a healthy and worthwhile habit, you need to make sure it's... easy to journal — that you can journal whenever and wherever you are, have physical and mental space for it, and that it comes with as little effort as possible.
That's where digital journaling has many advantages over analog journaling on paper, simply because your device is most likely smaller and more convenient than a notepad and a pen. It's not as pretty, though, so you might find yourself not as aesthetically pleasing compared to a beautiful paper journal.
While handwritten may look pretty and artistic, it requires a lot of work and you might find yourself lacking space, time, and resources to make it the way you want on the go! There's also a risk of going overboard with flourishes and falling into the form-over-function trope inspired by beautiful journals we love to watch on Instagram or Pinterest. Digital journals are much more down-to-earth and focused on the content.
You should also address the elephant in the room: the pen you have to use to write in your paper journal. Misplace it, and you're forced to buy or borrow one, slowing down your journaling process. With digital journals, you only need your device and your fingers!
Ease of access
There might come a day when you will want or need to reflect on something in your past, so having the ability to quickly find your past journaling entries is important! Imagine writing all those memories, wisdom, and favorite moments, only to find yourself unable to find them back in the vastness of your journals, pages, and unstructured writing.
Digital journaling has an advantage here: everything you write is neatly structured and organized. Like the Howdy app sorting your Moments into a chronological timeline, singling out your favorite moments, pictures, and so on. It's very practical when you journal for a specific goal, like self-reflection or happy memories — you can quickly and effortlessly access those memories with just a few taps!
Another thing to consider is the volume of your journaling that you will accumulate over time. It's not uncommon to end up with boxes full of journals written over the years. Great memoir compendium, but also a great threat to your privacy — anyone can find and read them! Digital journaling cannot be proudly presented on a shelf, but it gives you many privacy and security options like authorized access or backup.
Privacy and security
Now that we touched on the topic of privacy, digital journaling has the obvious advantage of being private and secure by design — your devices act as a natural line of defense from prying eyes with passwords, biometric locks, and encrypted storage.
You won't have that level of security and privacy with an analog journal. Anybody can read it when they take a hold of the physical notebook!
When we were designing the Howdy app, we spent a lot of time on the privacy and security measures, if you're interested in that kind of thing.
With analog journals, you have many fantastic options like washi tapes, stickers, photos, and other printed materials that fit on the page. It's a great way to personalize your journal and make it look great. Anything more serious than that? Unfortunately, it's up to your discipline and effort to keep track of your mood, habits, or anything more structured.
With a digital journal you can do almost as much, plus much more — structured information like tracking, calendars, etc., is easy to achieve because it can be automated. You can also preserve your photo memories much faster by taking a picture at the moment, instead of taking one, printing it, and sticking it to the page. It's just much more flexible to journal digitally!
Whichever journaling flavor you take, experiment a lot and try different approaches — over time, you will find your own, unique, and very individual way to journal that will be fun and easy to do. After all, that's what counts the most in journaling: taking a mindful break during your day to preserve your thoughts and memories.
To learn more about journaling and strategies to keep your journaling habit alive, check other posts in this category.