a peek inside the fishbowl

17 Jan, 2018

Things I am loving: line-a-day journals

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!

At the end of 2017, I finished my five-year line-a-day journal (!) and immediately bought myself a new one. (Hey, it’s on sale at Amazon right now!) I liked this habit too much to discard it.

In case you aren’t familiar with the idea, the line-a-day gives you a small space to fill in every day. Depending on the size of your handwriting, of course, you only have two or three sentences to sum up your day, or write about the weather, describe what you made for dinner, the funny things your kids said or did that day… whatever floats your boat. Easy peasy.

One line a day journal

It’s a low-pressure diary, which is ideal for those of us who are intimidated by filling up a bigger space or just don’t have the time to do so.

I was pretty good about writing in it every day. One year, the first year, I put it in a drawer and forgot about it for QUITE a big stretch. I recommend keeping it right on your nightstand or where you can’t possibly miss it.

Occasionally I find myself wavering on the best possible use of this little space. I would LIKE to use it to write about the best thing that happened every day – I did that before and really enjoyed it, and it helped my mental health immensely – but the practical part of me has simply defaulted to a plain old summary of the day.

I thought I’d mention a few things I’ve learned about myself in the process:

  • I think about work too much. This is often the very first thing I write down, even before any interesting personal stuff. I’m afraid that my priorities are screwed up, and it shows. I find myself wondering, why did I put this instead of that? Gah.
  • Did I mention that it was low pressure? Ha. If I’m perfectly honest, a small part of me worries that after my death this thing is going to make me look like an idiot. There is nothing literary about this whatsoever. I imagine a historian flipping through it and discarding it because it’s so boring, but if I worry about this too much I know I’d never write anything at all. Dear historian or ancestor, I’m sorry but THERE IS NOTHING PITHY TO FIND HERE.
  • I hate my handwriting. I must accept this.
  • I do like knowing what happened on this day in previous years.The pages are designed so it’s easy to look back and see what happened on that day. It’s kind of neat, and scary. Time passes so quickly. I often find myself saying to Mark, “did you know that this time last year we…”

Every night before I go to bed I scribble down a line or two. It only takes a minute to reflect on my day and find a way to sum it up. For me, it’s a minute worth spending. For what are we, other than our collection of memories?

Edited to add: This one for parents is really cute. What a great way to get kids reflecting and talking about their day. It’s like a time capsule. I wish I’d thought to do this when the kids were small!

3 Responses to "Things I am loving: line-a-day journals"

1 | Gwen

January 19th, 2018 at 11:05 am


I just ordered one of these, after reading your post! I had no idea there was such a thing. Like you, a traditional journal intimidates me and I know I would never keep up with it. So this is perfect. Thanks for sharing! :)

2 | andrea tomkins

January 19th, 2018 at 4:09 pm


Heeey! Glad to hear, Gwen! Let me know how you like it!

3 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Moment of bliss #022 - a peek inside the fishbowl

February 28th, 2018 at 2:13 pm


[…] to try and establish some habits around journaling when they’re young. For example, with the line-a-day diary I blogged about awhile back. Kids can also doodle a day, track what books they’re reading, jot down bullet form lists of […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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