How to Keep a Diary in a Non-Time-Consuming Way

Off and on for the past…ohhh, 19 years, I’ve attempted (and failed) to keep a daily diary.

The pattern has always gone the same way – I’d fall in love with a beautiful diary (which, when I was nine, was a Lisa Frank one decorated with brightly-colored puppies), I’d make grand plans to write in it every day, and then about 5 days in – I’d get bored and give up.

It’s relatively easy to think of something to write about if I’ve had a particularly good (or even particularly bad) day. I can gush about crushes and job highlights, or lament about bad news and break-ups.

But let’s face it – the majority of days are neither wonderful nor terrible – just normal, regular ol’ days. Those times don’t make for great diary-writing material, which is why I get bored rather quickly and abandon the idea all together.

Still, I’ve always liked the idea of having some kind of record of my life – something I can go back to and read years from now to get a glimpse into my past life. See what’s changed. See what hasn’t.

So, I came up with a solution. There’s a bit more work up front, but the actual diary process is much simpler. I thought I’d share my method in this post in case anyone is interested in doing something similar 🙂



Step One – Find a journal or notebook that appeals to you. You’re going to be looking at that baby for many years, so you might as well like the way it looks!

This one’s mine

Step Dos – Go through the journal and write out every day of every month: January 1, January 2, and so on. This one might take awhile, so you should do some hand stretches or something beforehand.

If you’re feeling fancy, write or type the dates in a pretty font and attach magazine scraps, artwork, scrapbook stickers, whatever. If you’re not, then don’t. You do you.


Because my journal had fewer pages (300) than there are days of the year, I doubled up and put two dates per page, except for my birthday and holidays, which earned their very own pages. Just don’t forget to include Leap Day – think about how rejected it’d feel.

I also left one page blank between each month so that I could document important events that I didn’t want to include in my actual diary entries – like the births of friends’ babies, or the election of a new president. This helps me keep things more organized.

Step Trois  – Now that your diary or journal is prepped, it’s time to start writing. Make sure you turn to whatever date it currently is today – because it’d be weird to write about April stuff on a January page 😉

I write down the day of the week (indicated by one letter), the current year, and then ONE line about my day – no more, and no less. (Except for birthdays and holidays, which get a bit more.)

I’ll put down that I tried a new restaurant that day, or drove out of town to see family, or even that I had a lazy Sunday of just watching movies.

Of course, there are definitely days where nothing out of the ordinary happened – days where I had a typical day at work, came home, ate a simple dinner, and went to bed. It’s tougher to write something interesting about those days, but I’m usually able to find something.

Unlike my previous diaries, I’ve stuck to this method for over five years now, and I plan to continue forever. Or until my hands fall off.  That happens in old age, right?

What’s fun is that a few years in, you might start picking up on some accidental “themes” in your life. For example, April 28 is apparently a really good day for me to devote to reading…


And October 3 is good for seeing my friend Haylee…

My friendships are mostly based on food.

Do you keep a diary on a consistent basis? Or have you tried, but couldn’t keep it going? What do you think about this method?

13 thoughts on “How to Keep a Diary in a Non-Time-Consuming Way

  1. Ooh, this method is great. You basically invented the “On this day” feature on Facebook before they did. The owe you.

    Something I did that I’d recommend to All the Teens was keep notebooks with a best friend in high school. Instead of passing notes between classes, we’d write our notes in The Sacred Notebooks, pass them between class, and respond. It’s one step cooler than my diaries because I was angsty and dramatic, but had someone equally angsty and dramatic respond with great understanding AND share her own woes. We both have two or three notebooks from our senior year that we like to read and reminisce about crushes, dances, and high school jobs.

    Oh. Hm. We did write our notes during class, aaaand I don’t want to get any teens in trouble, soooo… maybe I don’t recommend this? Pay attention in school, kids!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an awesome idea!! I’ve heard of parents & children exchanging diaries (obviously, in a different way), but I’ve never thought about friends exchanging them. I love it. And I think passing notes in class is a rite of passage. If a kid graduates high school without having passed a note (or diary), they didn’t “teen” correctly.

      Liked by 1 person

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