Routine is very important to me. When something is important to me I find that it behooves me to include it in a regular routine, or I have found that even if it is extremely valuable in my life, I will forget to do it. I have found that if I do the thing at the same time every day, more or less, there is a greater chance that I will remember to do it.
For the last few months, more or less since I have rediscovered the journals in which I wrote daily from the middle of 1996 until the middle of 1998 (a whopping six volumes in that time period — I used to write every single day including Shabbos and wrote anywhere from two to three pages per day) I have been writing every single weekday while I am riding the F train from Queens to Brooklyn (with a nice long ride through Manhattan, naturally!) — mind you, the writing does not take as long as the ride but I’d rather get it done in that time than risk not finishing and then forgetting to finish — that is what happened in 1998 and it led to me not writing at all until this last December.
I have one simple rule for writing in my journal — keep every entry exactly one page long. That means that even if a lot of things happen, I only write one page. I can focus on one event that happened the previous day or multiple events if they are not worthy of longer writing on a single page. Another benefit of writing this way is that I know that I have something to which I can look forward to writing every morning, even if it happens to be about trivial matters that happen the previous day.
I tend not to look at the actual entries until weeks later with the exception of the occasional Shabbos during which my wife will sometimes want to hear what I wrote during the previous week. Shabbos is a tremendous opportunity to rest from the wearying week and often I will not remember most of what even happened that previous week. When I look back at the entries that I had written that week, it sometimes feels as though the week were a dream and I managed to pull a net over it and captured it, only to put it in a jar.
It brings me a smile knowing each morning that I am capturing a little bit of my life on one side of a page, five times a week. Just as I now look back at the 1997 entries with interest in what life was like as a twenty year old, in the future I will surely look back with interest in how my life is as a father getting ready to turn thirty-four.