Hello. Thank you for your great responses to last month’s LifeJournal newsletter! The comments about the newsletter were overwhelmingly positive.
We apologize if you received more than one copy of the newsletter. It was our first time sending one out and we had a few glitches. We hope to do it right this time. We also learned that AOL customers need to have the newsletter sent to them in a non-html, plain text format. Let us know if you want to receive the plain text version, and we’ll make sure you get the properly formatted version.
Also, thanks to the more than 100 people who completed the survey at the end of the February newsletter. We are developing a clearer picture of how you would like to see LifeJournal evolve, and will definitely refer to your comments in making decisions about future versions. We received feedback on areas in the program that you feel are well executed, sections where you want to see improvement, as well as some new very creative features that we will try to incorporate.
The newsletter will be emailed monthly with tips about how to use LifeJournal, news about LifeJournal, and other things of interest to journal writers. Please write to me if you have any questions or comments about the newsletter or the LifeJournal program.
Chronicles Software Company
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Basics and Beyond: Daily Pulse and the Daily Pulse Graph
The Daily Pulse is a record of your daily personal barometer readings. The days when you can’t spend much time journaling, you can quickly open the LifeJournal program and rate yourself for the day on a scale of 1 to 10 in four parameters and write a quick Pulse Note. The whole process takes about two minutes.
To open the Daily Pulse for today, click the third circular button (with the angular pulse line icon, or go to the Features menu>Daily Pulse>Add or Entry for today) and the Daily Pulse entry appears. Four sliders are labeled Mood, Stress, Energy and Health. By clicking and dragging the circular slider control up and down you can select a rating. Note that all the good or high ratings are at the top of the slider and the bad or low ratings are at the bottom. This arrangement is intuitive for the Mood, Energy and Health ratings, but it is a little confusing when it comes to Stress: feeling low stress generally would get a high rating. So when selecting a Stress Daily Pulse value ask yourself the question, “Have the levels of stress been good/bad or helpful/hurtful for me today?” rather than “Have the levels of stress been low/high for me today?”
Try to enter your Daily Pulse values about the same time every day — perhaps in the evening, when you have had a chance to reflect on the whole day. Some may have a tendency to enter their Daily Pulse at emotional extremes — after a difficult episode or when some wonderful news has just arrived. The important thing is to remain consistent in your method of entering the ratings.
The Pulse Notes are an excellent way to capture the flavor of your day, especially if it is all you have time to write. You can then return several days later and you’ll have notes reminding you of the highlights of the day so that you can fill in the details. The Pulse Notes also offer a space for some explanation of the Daily Pulse values.
And finally, the Pulse Notes Reminder button can help you keep track of specific issues that you may be focusing on, for example, productivity at work, your addiction to cigarettes, or an exercise regimen. Click the Reminder button that lists the issues that you want to write about in the Pulse Notes daily. (To add/remove topics to your Reminder button, go to the Tools menu>Preferences. Select from the list of Pulse Note reminders and click OK. If you want to track an issue that isn’t on the list, click the Add Reminder button and type in the reminder that you want to add.)
If you can’t get to your LifeJournal for several days, you can enter the Daily Pulse of the missed days. The way to enter Daily Pulse information for previous days is to go to the Features menu>Daily Pulse>Add or Edit entry for previous dates.
As I enter my Daily Pulse I often think of this quote by Anne Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” If day after day I have a low Daily Pulse rating in a particular area, it makes me pause and think and it spurs me into wanting to make a change, based upon the record. That’s often a good starting point to write about in my daily journal.
The Daily Pulse Graph is a compilation of Daily Pulse values over time. Each of the four parameters is shown as one of four different colors. In addition, there is a fifth line, which is all the points that are the average of each of the four daily pulse values. This fifth line quickly lets you see your general ups and downs. Open the Daily Pulse Graph by clicking the fifth button from the right on the horizontal tool bar (or go to the Features menu>Daily Pulse>View Graph). You can view any one or a combination of the mood, stress, health, and energy levels and compare them. Click any of the five labeled buttons to select and view, or deselect and hide each line. This feature of the Daily Pulse Graph gives you the opportunity for analysis.
One suggestion for using the Daily Pulse Graph for seeing long term trends is to click on two buttons to show two elements that you think might have some correlation — perhaps mood and energy. How does mood affect your energy? How does energy affect mood? Do they correspond with each other often, that is, when mood is high is energy good and when mood is low is energy low, too, or are the two fairly unrelated? Which element do you think drives which? Any correlation between stress and health? Sometimes the correlations might not be within the same time frame. For example, too much stress might not adversely affect your health until a week after the stressful period has passed. (You can view the Daily Pulse graph in different time periods — 2 weeks, 3 months, or 1 year-by clicking on the buttons with black squares below the Average button.)
Do you see recurring patterns of low daily pulse ratings followed by a series of high ratings? Do these variations correspond with cyclical events, such as when quarterly reports are due or when semesters begin and end? If so, you may want to remind yourself (maybe send yourself a Letter for the Future) that you have to develop and follow a strategy (e.g. eat better, sleep more, adhere more carefully to your exercise routine, journal regularly) to minimize the downside of the approaching cycle.
How do I back up my LifeJournal data — my journal entries and daily pulse information, etc.?
Backing up your LifeJournal data to some place other than your hard drive is critical to being able to read your journal entries, Daily Pulse, and other information you’ve recorded in LifeJournal in the event that you hard drive stops working properly.
There are two files that you should copy regularly and paste onto removable media (e.g. a floppy disk, Zip cartridge, or CD). The files are YourName.ljd (for example, Terry.ljd) and users.ljd. These files are found in the LifeJournal directory, usually C:\Program Files\LifeJournal.
REMEMBER: Back up these files periodically to insure that you don’t lose your journal entries!
Here’s the second part of the question about data backup — restoring the data —
I recently had to have my hard drive reformatted. I saved two files onto a disk. How do I get these files back into the program?
Get positive reinforcement by keeping a victory or success log!
It’s a rare person who doesn’t need positive reinforcement from time to time. Often we depend on friends and partners to help us get through tough times; it’s also good to be able to help ourselves with a boost when necessary. Use LifeJournal to help you feel better about yourself with a Victory Log. :
A victory or success log is a compilation of your victories of any proportion. Write at least a sentence or two every day somewhere in your daily journal entry about something you feel good about. It may be an accomplishment as seemingly minimal as putting your feisty two year old’s shoes on him without losing your temper, or as subtle as artfully navigating through a delicate conversation with a colleague.
Select (click and drag your mouse cursor over) the text that you want to include in your victory log. In the default topics list, there is a folder named Log, with a topic in it named Victory. Click on the Victory topic and you will have just highlighted that passage assigning that topic to the passage
A month or so down the road, when you may be feeling down and want to boost your spirits you could remind yourself of your positive qualities, by opening the Victory/Success log:
Getting into the habit of keeping a victory or success log does several things for you:
More benefits of writing!
In last month’s newsletter we reported about the health benefits of writing. James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. has done extensive research about the power of writing, how it is not only good for our emotional well-being but for our physical health as well.
Pennebaker also sees other benefits of writing. Actively writing about a topic — whether it’s academic and fact-based or emotional and subjective-helps the writer organize, re-organize, and assimilate the material. So, if you are working your way through some complex material and want a better handle on it, try writing about it, reviewing it, re-organizing it, digesting it and, ultimately, more deeply understanding it.
Pennebaker also suggests writing to clear the mind. Writing about what’s in the forefront of your mind-the small stuff that you are worrying or thinking about that is a distraction to the real work ahead -seems to clear the way to focus on the real task at hand. Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, promotes a technique called “the morning pages” that capitalizes on writing for this purpose. She encourages you to write every morning continuously for about 20-30 minutes about anything and everything, with the result that you have expressed distracting and perhaps negative feelings, attitudes, and worries that otherwise would interfere with your creative energy. You can start the day with a clean, fresh mind.
Pennebaker also claims that writing fosters problem solving. Writing helps in understanding complex problems, forces the writer to focus on the subject longer than just merely thinking about it would, and compels the writer to spend more time thinking about details, as writing is a slower process than just thinking. Have a knotty problem that you trying to untangle? Write about it!
From Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible: “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
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©Chronicles Software Company, 2001. All rights reserved