Paper diary vs Mobile diary: my personal experience

When we released a new application JOI — a diary of feelings and emotions, we consulted with leading psychologists on how to prepare it correctly, so that keeping records would be of maximum benefit for our future users. Our goal was to create a modern and convenient alternative to paper diaries and notebooks. But is it possible to replace them completely? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each method? As an app creator, I decided to figure things out on my own.

For a month I had been keeping an ordinary paper diary. Then I used our mobile mood journal. In my environment, some people could barely imagine their life without paper notebooks. On the pages of a diary, they drew, took notes, crossed out what was written, folded the corners, and believed that a mobile app could not replace “live” contact with paper and pen. Other friends of mine used applications similar to ours and claimed that this is a convenient and modern way of taking control over your emotions.

I had a specific goal of journaling: to improve my emotional state, alleviate the anxiety, and learn to understand myself and my feelings better. Therefore, armed with a beautiful diary with a corgi on the cover, I began to write.

My findings after a month of keeping a paper diary

First, it turned out that I am a very unorganized person: I’ve skipped about two weeks of journaling. Sometimes I was too lazy to write, then there were a lot of other things to do, and nothing special was happening … Then I started working on a new project and for a couple of days I completely forgot about my notes. Perhaps the problem is in me and I should be more attentive, but I doubt that in the frantic rhythm of modern life it is possible to keep such things as daily writing in your head.

Many people say that handwriting develops creativity. To be honest, it only has made me tired and many of the notes were shorter than they ought to be. I was just too lazy to write everything on paper, so I made short, abstract notes — very often they did not reflect the complete situation.

Surely, I liked my notebook — it had a beautiful bright cover, crunchy sheets with a pleasant smell of fresh paper. At first, it was even scary to make the entries, and indeed, it was unpleasant to cross out the text and rewrite it, for example. I had a feeling that I was spoiling a beautiful, new thing. Moreover, it was inconvenient to take the notebook with me everywhere I go: I chose a rather large one and it didn’t fit well in my bag. This means that I could not write down the thoughts that came to me in the office, for example, and by the evening I had already successfully forgotten them.

Well, in general, I’d like to note that I am not a professional psychologist and do not quite understand how to keep a paper diary properly, so for me, it turned into a bunch of stuff without any system or connection. It was difficult to analyze them, and draw conclusions. Feeling a little upset, I proceeded to the second month of the experiment and installed our application — a diary of feelings and emotions, that had already been released by that time.

Why I liked using the app

I will be brief: for myself, I highlighted the following advantages:

1. Always at hand

An unconditional plus of mobile journals is that they are always with us. You can forget your notebook, it may not fit in your bag, but no one will leave the apartment without a smartphone!

This is particularly relevant for those who are just starting to keep a diary of emotions — to accustom yourself to make notes regularly, you need to have free and easy access to them.

2. Large amount of memory

Paper notebooks are limited by the number of sheets, and as for the digital ones — they are almost unlimited. In an app you can write, delete, write again and again without any fear of spoiling it (as in the case with paper notebooks).

As for me, when running an ordinary diary, I always had a fear to write something “wrong”. Also, they end quickly enough: usually it takes 3–6 months to complete a paper notebook. In mobile application you don’t have such problems and it is possible to find old records pretty fast: as a rule, they are sorted by date.

3. Guiding questions allow you to analyze your emotions better

In our app, after you choose your mood today, you will receive a series of guiding questions that help you understand which events led to this feeling. This allows you to understand yourself better and find out what events and triggers should be avoided to improve mental health.

4. Regular reminders discipline you

The app sends reminders that say it’s time to get back to journaling. It disciplines you and develops the habit of taking notes regularly.

Since I have a really busy schedule, I choose a mobile app for daily use: it is convenient, fast, and modern. I have paper notebooks, but I use them occasionally.

And what will you choose — a handy app for analyzing emotions or a beautiful paper notepad? I would be interested in your opinion.

Product designer & Entrepreneur