CategoriesPersonal DevelopmentTools

2021 – The Year I Got Into Journaling

In 2021 I really got going when it comes to journaling. Having heard numerous times that it helps with mental health, I decided on the first of January 2021 to give it a serious try. With the result of 371 separate entries in 2021. I won’t go sharing my journal with you, but I will share the tools I use.

Day One

My main app for journaling is Day One. This is an app for Mac, iOS and even Apple Watch although I haven’t tried the latter yet. Typing, while possible, is finicky at best and I am not yet ready to record voice entries in my journal. Although it would feel very like Star Trek (Captain’s Log, Stardate…). An experiment for this year maybe.

Day One is excellent for me because it syncs across my phone, tablet and laptop and has good security. It is also easy to use. The app delivers what I need from it, an absolutely private digital space. I recommend it.


Another app that has become a staple of my day is Grapefruit. While it can be used for journaling as well, I only use it to register certain daily parameters about my mood / mental health and for analyzing these parameters over a longer period. It is usable on Apple, Microsoft and Android devices and is really easy to work with. You get the info you need at a glance and it is highly customizable. It really helps me to get an overview of moods and the correlation between moods and certain activities, without having to read the long-form writing I do in Day One.


A bit of a weird one in this list, but not less important, is Obsidian. This is a really, really great note-taking tool that I use for both personal and professional purposes. While some people journal in it as well, I prefer the more walled-off Day One for that. But that doesn’t mean Obsidian isn’t getting a lot of use. I make Daily Notes about work and my passion projects, the contents of those help me to get my daily journaling done and track my progress across all my projects.

There are many more tools for journaling out there, but these are mine. I am curious to see where they will bring me in 2022.


Apple & Payments

If you have ever been part of the Apple ecosystem, as a customer, a developer or both, you will have noticed that it is walled off quite thoroughly. Payments have to be made within the ecosystem, with no room whatsoever to offer payment options that circumvent Apple.

I get it, partially. Apple wants to make sure they get their cut (despite claims that it is all to protect the privacy of its users). But it is not user-friendly.

Now the Dutch anti-trust watchdog ACM as looked into this for the Dutch market. And while it is probably a long wait until any meaningful change, the first results give me some hope that things WILL change in the future. Let’s wait & see.



My son dropped my iPad, and of course, it fell on the screen. Luckily, it can be fixed, not by me, I don’t mind working on my PC or laptop, but this is too finicky for me so I outsourced it to an experienced repair shop in the neighbouring village.

The little guy was suitably contrite and has promised to look out better from now on, so the pedagogical part of this problem has been addressed too.

The only thing left is the actual repair, I will drop the device off after Christmas and hope to get it back within a few days. I use it to read magazines, journal articles and to write in my own journal. It also serves as my Todoist hub when I am working. I feel a bit weird without this part of my setup around.


Another Tool Gone

I love interesting little tools that do one thing well. But not when it comes to note-taking. I have set my sights on one app that lets me store all my notes on whatever subject. Code snippets, notes on books I read, recipes, everything.

For many things, Obsidian has been my go-to app for the past 6 months. Easy to use, locally stored, syncs beautifully with all my devices. But a pain when it comes to storing recipes in a format that is easily used when cooking.

No more! Today’s Obsidian Roundup (highly recommended newsletter!) mentioned that the CookLang plugin for Obsidian is now available.

CookLang is a markup language for recipes. I am going to play around with this a bit and will be retiring Paprika Recipe manager soon for something that is easier and stores my information in a non-proprietary way.


Stoop Inbox: Interesting Tool

My mailbox is filled to the brim with newsletters. Many that I enjoy or even love, but also quite a few that have descended from that state into something that I barely tolerate. My Gmail inbox where all mail sent to an address linked to me ends up eventually, isn’t exactly a great place for the management of newsletters. It can be done. I have done it. But let’s just say I used some choice words that my kids are not supposed to say.

I tried several tools, but nothing stuck like Stoop. What the tool does is brilliant in its simplicity. You get an address from them, that you can then use to subscribe to newsletters. Those then end up in your Stoop Inbox, no longer cluttering your regular mail.

It takes a bit of discipline to check that box regularly, but if you can do that, it is an ideal tool. I tend to take an hour or so on my Sunday morning and browse through the newsletters I received over the last week while drinking a cup of coffee. The combination of caffeine and ideas from the newsletters creates a pleasant buzz in my mind and makes me think. And that’s why I subscribe to most newsletters in the first place, to encourage me to think!