Day One Templates: Elegant Simplicity

You may have seen me mention Day One a few times in other posts – it is my go-to journaling app and great for quickly jotting down ideas too. This post is about creating Day One Templates.

One of the challenges I find with a daily journaling routine is my desire to have a short set of pre-defined sections or questions which I can adopt – i.e. headings. Other apps like Evernote also offer the facility for templates, but I found Evernote too unwieldy for day-to-day journaling. Evernote is geared for a different purpose.

Day One has the template facility nailed and it even comes with a few templates for daily journaling built-in. The only slight frustration is that templates aren’t on the native macOS app as of today but are on iOS versions, so you have to define them and create notes from them on a mobile device (but you can later edit them on the Mac).

Here’s a quick guide to using and creating templates in Day One.


These will become clearer once you read the notes afterwards.

How to Make a New Day One Template

Click the + in the centre bottom of the screen to start a new entry. [Screen 1] This pops up a window showing the different types of note you can start. You will see “Template” here also with a little document icon above it. Click it.

You will then be shown a list of your recent templates and an “Edit Templates …” option. [Screen 2] If you want to use one of the templates, just click the name and a pre-filled notecard will appear in your currently selected journal. If you want to create a new template, click “Edit Templates …’

Edit a Day One Template

Your own templates appear at the top of the list [Screen 3] with a handy count of how many times each template has been used. There are some pre-set templates below which you can also edit or use if you want to.

There is also a NEW button just below your own list, so you can add a blank template here, or click one of the existing templates and move on to make some changes.

[Screen 4] and [Screen 5] show the editing options for a template, and the easiest one to use is the “Add Section” option. This converts the line you just entered into a SECTION in the note and puts it into a nice off-grey pillbox shape and all CAPS.

You can get stylish with the formatting options under the “Aa” button, including adding checklists, titles and other formats. Have fun and see what works for you. The end result (in its most basic form) can be seen in [Screen 6] – a vanilla template with a few headings – which you can use whenever you need a guided prompt.

Templates for Everything

You can see Day One templates can extend beyond just regular journaling, though they are perfect for this. You will see in my list I have something called “Pre Flight IR | Weekly” which is a template based on the work of Roger Hamilton in GeniusU and his Wealth Dynamics system.

You can easily take any of the systems out there and create templated questionnaires in Day One. You can then use the system effortlessly in digital format instead of having to carry around a hefty journal such as the Best Self Journal or High-Performance Planner (although I do still like my blank notebook for some daily work and helping keep me focused).

Using Day One Templates with Siri

Day One has you covered here also, and thanks to Erik for asking on twitter. If you want to use a Siri command to start off a templated entry in Day One, follow these steps:

  1. Go into settings in the iOS app “⚙”
  2. Click “Siri Shortcuts”
  3. Click the “Template” icon in the Journal you want to add a template to
  4. Pick the template you want to use
  5. Enter your Siri command (or leave it as is)
  6. Click “Add to Siri”
  7. And you’re done!

Closing Thoughts

For me, Day One is a great journaling app because it combines great flexibility with elegant simplicity. You can record an audio note and Day One will transcribe it for you (also keeping the audio). You can add images. You can import your Instagram feeds. You can draw. You can type text. And it knows where you created the note, what the weather was and other seemingly irrelevant information that actually adds context when you revisit the entries. There’s even a map view for your scattered scribblings.

It’s super-easy to pick up and bash out an entry, plus you have features like templates to help with repetitive activities like habits and daily journaling. It’s no surprise that Day One consistently comes out on top of league tables for journaling apps.

Morning & Evening Journaling

Journalling Playbook

I talk about Day One and morning and evening templates for journaling in my Journaling Playbook which you can download today. It contains PDF templates for the journaling sessions as well as other tips and insights on how to get the best out of your journal. And it’s free!

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How to develop a resilient and paragon character;
Why your journal can be an indispensable tool

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