Action Group

Quick Journaling

Posted by Kirk, Last update over 2 years ago

Write stuff in Today’s Journal and act on it later

I love the idea behind bullet journaling, and the idea behind a paper notebook sounds attractive to me, but in practice I love my electronic systems too much. This gives me something similar to bullet journaling except in the format that works best for me.

The main idea is that each day I want to create a new draft to act as that day’s journal, and I want to be able to get back to it as quickly as possible later. At the end of the day, I want to process that draft:

  • Lines starting with an asterisk are sent to my OmniFocus inbox as new actions.
  • Lines starting with an at-symbol are sent to Fantastical and turned into calendar events.
  • Lines starting with a hyphen are collected and sent to Day One as a diary entry.

Everything else is ignored. After processing, the draft is archived and I’m ready for the next day.

For example, by the end of the day I might have:

# Journal for 2019-01-26

- Got donuts for breakfast.
@ Batting cages tomorrow at 1:30
* Buy a birthday card
* Fill the van with gas
- Played tour guide for our visiting friends.

After processing, I’ll have two new OmniFocus actions (“Buy a birthday card” and “Fill the van with gas”), an event on tomorrow’s calendar, and a Day One diary entry saying:

Got donuts for breakfast.

Played tour guide for our visiting friends.

The actions

Go to Today’s Journal

This always takes you directly to the journal draft with today’s date. If it doesn’t already exist, this action will create it.

Keyboard shortcut: Command + Option + G (for “Go”)

Append to Today’s Journal

This action appends the contents of the current draft as a note to Today’s Journal, then deletes the draft. This is handy for gathering up a bunch of separate drafts that you’ve created with Siri, through your watch, and so on into your main journal draft.

Keyboard shortcut: Command + Option + A (for “Append”)

Process journal items

This processes each line of the current draft as described earlier. Note that this doesn’t automatically go to the Today’s Journal draft first. This lets you process any draft, which is handy if you forgot to process yesterday’s journal before going to bed.

Keyboard shortcut: Command + Option + P (for “Process”)


Quick Journaling supports:

  • Day One
  • Fantastical
  • GoodTask
  • OmniFocus
  • Things

The first time you run the “Process” action, it creates a draft named “Quick Journaling settings”. Edit that draft to connect different beginning line characters to the actions you like best. Want “*” items to go to Things? Replace “* OmniFocus” with “* Things”. If you never make calendar items, delete the “@ Fantastical” line. Feel free to make new ones if you’d like: maybe “% GoodTask” suits your workflow.


  • Error handling. It wasn’t obvious to me how best to handle errors. If Fantastical can’t parse a calendar event, should we just stop processing the rest of journal items? That doesn’t seem right.
  • Support more backends. Of course we should all use OmniFocus and Fantastical, but some people don’t. They should be able to use their favorite apps, too.


  • 1.5, 2019-02-05. Added Things support.
  • 1.4, 2019-02-02. Actions are configured through a settings draft named “Quick Journaling Settings”. It will be created the first time you run the “Process” action.
  • 1.3, 2019-02-02. Updated “Process” to make it easier to use other applications.
  • 1.2, 2019-01-29. Accidentally broke “Append” when Today’s Journal didn’t already exist. Sorry about that.
  • 1.1, 2019-01-28. “Append” refuses to append to itself, and is more consistent about newlines and starting characters in the note being appended.
  • 1.0, 2019-01-26. First public release

About the author

Kirk Strauser wrote this. Please let me know if you make any cool changes to it!

Included Actions

  • Go to Today’s Journal
  • Append to Today’s Journal
  • Process journal items
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