Some journal applications come out of the box with a little more direction to how you should write your entries. I Journal for Android is just one of those as it is set up around Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage. I Journal is based around the same four core principles as the book:

– journaling as a means of moving from task-based activities to meaning-based activities
– write down something you are grateful for every day: gain a more positive perspective on life
– record how you exercise: boosts your mood and enhances your work performance
– capture moments of meditation: increases happiness, lowers stress, and can even improve immune function
– make note of your acts of kindness: feel much happier

Supposedly following these principles can increase your productivity and give you a ‘happiness advantage’.

As for the application itself, I do like that it has several of the most important features. It is backed up to the cloud with the online service (who also developed it) so your data is safe even when your phone isn’t. This is especially neat because you can journal from any device that has access to the Catch website. This way you can journal via keyboard if you want a longer entry than your thumbs will allow on a touchscreen. The downside to this is that you are forced to download the Catch app as well, even before you write your first entry.

You can also include pictures and audio notes along with your written notes and I am always glad to see search built in. You can utilize GPS and QR codes with your journal, which are some less-than-common, but nice additions. Entries can be viewed in forward or reverse chronological order.

Before you write and entry, you select as many of the four core principles (gratitude, meditation, exercise and kindness) as you want. These act kind of as prompts to ask you how you did in these areas that day (or week, or month…).

Although I Journal tries to give your traditional smartphone journaling a little twist, the whole experience still feels a little clunky. The interface isn’t great and I wish there were more ways to view your entries, such as in a calendar view. Dropbox or Evernote backup would be more convenient and I couldn’t find any customization to speak of.

Then again, if free is your thing, I Journal is probably worth checking out.

Anyone tried it yet?