3 minute read


I used to be a terrible journal writer.

If I did write, it was often just sporadic and lacked any kind of structure. Not that the lack of structure is a bad thing, I sometimes still do that, but I also felt like I needed to write something of a novel for each day.

Now my journal entries are much better and I have a specific direction for what I write. With this system I have only missed a couple days since June 2011 because I have used the Five Minute Journal combined with TextExpander for helping add some consistency and automation to the process. Writing a journal entry has become an easy exercise. I admit that it takes longer than 5 minutes, but that’s still okay because I have added a few things to the original questions.

Here’s how the system works.


Every morning I fill out a simple questionnaire that helps me focus for the day and then every night I fill out another that helps me think about what I have done for the day. Add this practice to the next day planning and I have a good idea of what I should be working on for the day. My shortcuts “;5am” and “;5pm” are easy to type and the fillable form makes it easy for me. I don’t have to remember what the questions are, I just have to write my responses. That makes it easier because then I can just focus on writing well thought out responses.


I open a blank text file, put in the date header for the day. Then I type my shortcut for the morning (;5am) and then answer the questions. At the end of the day I open the same file, type the evening shortcut (;5pm) and answer the questions. Then I rename the file from “draft_journal.txt” to the date using another TextExpander shortcut which I named “;journal_filename”. It puts in the current date in with “journal” at the front of the file (You can see the snippit below).

I have another process on my computer called “Hazel” which takes the renamed file and moves it to my journal archive. The Journal Archive is just a directory on my computer called “Journal” which has a folder under it for each month. If I ever want to see a particular entry I can go to the archive and find the month and then open the specific date file in that folder. They are all text files so that makes it easy to use no matter what OS or device I am on. Just about everything can read a text file these days, which is why I use that format.

The system has taken a while to perfect, but I can write a journal entry on my phone, tablet or my computer easily and that is the point. Making the journaling process simple has made it much easier to be consistent.

TextExpander snippits

If you are interested in using my process or even want to modify it for yourself, here are the TextExpander snippits I use to help automate the process. If you end up using them I’d love to hear about it.

5 AM Snippit

## Morning Five Minute Journal
(Month: January) (Day: 1), (Year: 2001)
(Hour: 1 (1-12)):(Minute: 01) (AM/PM)

### I am grateful for...
1. (grateful1)
2. (grateful2)
3. (grateful3)

### What will I do to make today great?
1. (great1)
2. (great2)
3. (great3)

### Daily Affirmations
(I am )

### Emphasise Your Strengths

Today I will be focusing on: **(strength1)**

### I plan to use this strength by doing the following


5 PM Snippit

## Evening Five Minute Journal
(Month: January) (Day: 1), (Year: 2001)
(Hour: 1 (1-12)):(Minute: 01) (AM/PM)

### 3 Amazing things that happened today...
1. (amazing1)
2. (amazing2)
3. (amazing3)

### How did I use my focused strength today?

### How could I have made today better?

### 3 things that got done today
1. (things1)
2. (things2)
3. (things3)

### Three word summary of the day:

Markdown Date

# (Year: 2001) (Month: January) (Day: 01)


Journal Filename Snippit

journal_(Year: 2001).(Month: 01).(Day: 01).md.txt

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash