Journal Necessities

Journaling has always been difficult for me. Despite whatever repeating tasks I set for myself, I’m often confronted by some combination of “I just don’t wanna” and “to what end?” feelings.

And then later, I think, “Huh, it would have been nice if I had some record of those times.”

As is often the case, the issue isn’t one of laziness, so much as it is about accessibility.

For a journal entry, I want to be able to:
1. Quickly add a thought, whenever I feel like it
2. Not think about it again unless I care to
3. Feel that my entries are secure, ordered, and accessible where I’d want them

That means, I don’t want it going into an Inbox either where I’d need to think about sorting it.

To this end, I’ve designed a quick and simple way to create a journal entry in DEVONthink directly from the iOS Lock Screen:

Anytime I feel a fleeting inspiration, I tap on that pencil icon on the right and get a fresh note titled with the current date and time:

… ready for me to hit edit and write.

Setting It Up

Setting it up is not simple, but once it’s in place, you’re good to go.

I’ll step you through. It involves:
1. DEVONthink to Go
2. A DEVONthink folder dedicated to journal entries
3. iOS Shortcuts
4. An app that lets you add a Shortcut to the lock screen (Here, I’ll use “LockFlow“.)

1. Set up a Folder in DEVONthink

First set up a folder dedicated to journaling. Here are the sub-folders in my Notes folder in DEVONthink to Go:

2. Set up the Shortcut

Next, in the Shortcuts app,
– Create a new shortcut:

  • Select “+ Add Action”
  • In search, type “DEVONthink” to narrow your options to only those related to DEVONthink:

  • Select “Create Item”:

You’ll see:

In the areas for selection, choose your preferences. I’ve selected:

  • Markdown Document as the Type
  • “Current date” as a Title
  • My “Journal” Folder as the Group

  • Add the action to open the item.
  • Title and add an icon to taste. I’ve titled mine “+ Journal”:

3. Set up LockFlow


  • Open LockFlow
  • Select the “+” button on the top left

You should see:

  • Select “Add Shortcut Manually”
  • Add a symbol and name (being sure to write the exact name):

  • Select “Test Shortcut” if you’d like

4. Set up the Lock Screen


  • Lock your phone
  • Long press the screen to access its customization screen
  • Select “Customize” at the bottom

You should see something like:

  • Select your newly created widget. (If it only says “edit”, add that, then select your newly added widget and choose your shortcut):

  • Select “Done” at the top right
  • Choose either “Set as Wallpaper Pair” or “Customize Home Screen”

And you’re good to go.

Just tap that new icon anytime you want to jot down an journal entry.

PS. If you’re interested in diving into the mechanics of making DEVONthink your “Second Brain”, consider: