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How to journal without an actual journal

Tbh, journaling isn't exactly easy. At all. Sometimes life gets so busy—and pulling out all those markers and pens can feel like a lot like a chore. 

Writing in a notebook may be helpful for some, but if it just isn't for you, there are plenty of other options to explore...

A digital diary


Spending hours on social media can be exhausting. Translation: It's time to shift to some relaxing journal apps. They make it super convenient to log your mood and moments about your day. After all, it's right there on your phone or tablet.


Daylio app

The Daylio app allows you to quickly share how you feel, as well as what you did throughout the day. With icons and emojis, it's super convenient to share all the daily deets. The app will then track your moods over time, and you can check back on specific dates to see what kept you busy then. You can also keep written diary entries and photos—it'll hold your fave memories.


Reflectly app

With the Reflectly app, you can do anything, from just keeping diary entries (and voice memos) to exploring inspirational quotes, taking daily self-care challenges or answering question prompts. The app's theme is incredibly aesthetic, too.

1 Second Everyday

1 Second Everyday app

This 1 Second Everyday app is a fabulous way to keep your memories in one place without too much effort. Hence the name, the rules are simple: Record one second of your life every single day. After a while, it's super cool to look back on your past self and get a short glimpse into what you were up to on any given day.

A jar of memories


Keeping a journal jar is both an aesthetic addition to your room and a nice way to keep track of memories you make. Simply take a little slip of paper, write down a moment you wish to keep forever and place it in your jar. You can even choose to add collectibles and other little elements of decor to spice it up a bit. 

Some ideas include adding a "highlight of the day" piece of paper to your jar every night, describing a moment you were especially grateful for that day or just recording a time that brought you joy—like in this happy jar TikTok.

@celynhaf Saw this on my fyp and had to try it myself 🐝 Happy Jar! #foryou #fyp #happyjar #painting ♬ original sound - Veljko

A simple mind dump


A mind dump is a fantastic form of communication. Simply let the words flow straight from your heart and your mind. They don't even need to form sentences. 

You can do a mind dump basically anywhere. Use your Notes app or even the back of a receipt you no longer need. That mind dump will help you remember tasks you need to accomplish, identify factors contributing to your current mood and simply help you stay in the moment—right where you need to be.

An artsy approach


As we're stepping away from the notion that journaling happens only on lined pieces of paper, feel free to color outside of the lines and use your creative talents. After all, the main goal of journaling in the first place is to express your thoughts, feelings and, honestly, just yourself.

Maybe research the symbolism behind colors and use that to describe your mood in an art piece. Or find a way to incorporate some meaningful sentences or important words into your art. Bc in the end, whatever form of journaling makes you the happiest and the most relaxed is the one to stick with.

Need more journaling inspo? Check out some of our best ideas:
📔 How to journal like a pro
📔 Your guide to gratitude journaling
📔 8 journaling prompts to better understand yourself

What are some of your favorite journal prompts? Let us know on Twitter @girlslifemag!

Slider image: @halloalice3
Top image: @_ellediary

All GIFs via GIPHY


by Lucy Ke | 9/25/2023