What Are You Curating In Your Journal?

One of the interesting books I read last year was Joel Zaslofsky’s Experience Curating: How to Focus,Increased Influence, and Simplify Your LifeIt’s the first time I read a book about something I’ve been doing in my journals for years, which is keeping a list of books I read. I’ve done that since 1981, but I never used the word, “curating” to describe it.

In the digital age, curating is easier to in many cases. We can keep a collections of  books on GoodReads, store and tag photos on Instagram, keep an ever-growing bucket list, bookmark and archive webpages, build Pinterest boards of all sorts of items, and save our favorite quotes. There’s also lots of physical curations, from collecting baseball cards and first edition books, to owning classic art and automobiles. My son recently started collecting decks of differently designed playing cards.

Zaslofsky says that, “Curating empowers humans to filter, organize, preserve the context of, access, and privately share their experiences.” And that’s part of what I do in my Day One journal. Though I maintain my book lists on GoodReads, I still keep the list in my journal.

I also curate, by way of tagging, the new meals I cook throughout the year, my favorite jazz albums, my “top moments” in life, news worthy events I want to remember years from now, and pieces of drawings I manage do when I get a little time.

The other day I wrote up a list of all the cities I have slept for at least one night. My iTunes application automatically curates for me. It keeps track of the songs I play and favor the most. With favorite playlists, I can easily keep tab on new artists and albums I like. The same goes for the jazz music I listen to on Rdio. With a simple click, I can favor a currently playing song. The iOS app, RollerJournal, provides a list of list prompts you can keep. They include: “List musician who want to see play life.” “This thing you want to do this summer.” “What was the biggest decision of you day?” “List 10 things you wouldn’t want to do without.”

Zaslofsky says that “Curating lets us strip away life’s access and see what we truly value; it helps us get more of the good stuff, and protects us from distractions. Just like simplicity.” And you know, he’s right. I find that curating and journal writing actually teaches me what’s important in my life, and it helps me decide what matters most. By keeping lists, and reflecting on what I’m learning, I don’t feel the need to have more and more stuff. Instead, I learn to appreciate and value what I already have.

Curating Experience covers a lot more topics than I address here (last year, I wrote a longer review on Amazon), but for the purposes of journaling, I encourage you to use your journal to curate experiences. Keep lists, tag favorite and topical entries, and use your journal as a learning tool for personal growth and enjoyment.

Let us know what you’re curating in your journal, and how long you’ve been doing it.

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Bakari Chavanu

is the creator of NaJoWriMo, and is the author of the interactive iBook, Starting From Day One: Using the Day One Journaling App to Record and Enrich Your Life
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