Analogue and digital: an equal partnership


I recently published a post on the merits of improving my handwriting or “penmanship”. This had the flow on effect of triggering some consideration about my note-taking in general, which commonly occurs in both digital and analogue (hand-written) forms.

Digital or Analogue – Why not just choose one?

Why not simply go all in with handwritten notebooks, a manual calendar or perhaps a Bullet Journal type system? I don’t believe this to be possible in the way I like to interact with my work, hobbies, thoughts, and just about everything I either enjoy, or am required to accomplish on a day-to-day basis. In reading that sentence over, more accurately, I choose not to work this way.

I’m sure if I wanted to, I could “go off the grid”, however I enjoy using my digital tools as much as I do my analogue ones, having put a good deal of effort into setting things up so they work well together, as I have seeking out great pens and notebooks. I believe the two can co-exist happily, complementing each other, rather than requiring isolation or resulting in duplication. Just the other day for example, working through a tutorial on the longer form writing Mac application Scrivener, it seemed appropriate to jot down the key points in my Field Notes Arts Edition.

If I am entirely honest, with so much more to learn, I would be pretty disappointed not to pursue greater integration and understanding of my technology, or ongoing expansion and evolution of my pen and paper collection.

Getting the Job Done

ShelterwoodFirst and foremost, the essence of any tool is that it does what you require of it. For note-taking, whether a list, outline, mindmap or draft blog post – it gets the job done with a minimum of friction. True, certain situations dictate only certain tools can be used. For example I cannot check the weather forecast or send a text message with pen and paper (or perhaps I can).

The first half of this very post was drafted on my iPad mini with Editorial, an app which constantly amazes me with its features and automation, though I probably use less than a quarter of them. The latter half of the post with pen on paper, upon which I had written:

…as I sit here in the pre-dawn lamp glow drafting this post in longhand, I cannot think of a more pleasant sound than the Pelikan nib gliding across this Rhodia paper.

Agreed. Probably a little more than simply getting the job done.

The Appeal?


Day One

Hardware design of both mobile devices and Macs is certainly important, however for most of us remains fairly stable over extended periods of time, and is something I probably take for granted. Thinking about why I enjoy my digital tools, it is generally in terms of the user interface and software features. The beautiful way Day One captures and presents moments in my life; the power of Drafts or nvALT in capturing and processing notes; the automation of Editorial; or elegant simplicity of Vesper.

My analogue tools? More deeply engrained in the senses. Sounds, textures, colours. The feel of blank paper and how this changes when full of words. The wear patterns of a Field Notes notebook by the time the last page rolls around. Once archived, the joy of page one in the next. The different weight and balance, finish or colour of a new pen. The sound of a pen across a page as it crafts a line with the purest ink.

Wrapping Up

The fundamental question for me, is whether or not there is joy, delight or inherent satisfaction in the way I interact with my surroundings or tools, be they analogue or digital.

In the tools I choose to use, the answer is yes, and applies equally to a powerful but beautifully designed iOS or Mac application, as it does an exquisitely honed fountain pen nib gliding across the finest paper.

Some have suggested with technology marching on (which I readily embrace), the death of the pen is nigh.

To those who know the truth? We just post the cap and write on. Smiling.

Using Day One to Track Workouts

I have always struggled to find an easy to use, yet accurate method of tracking exercise sessions, whether they be resistance training or cardiovascular in nature. Various attempts at simple or more complex spreadsheets, dedicated apps, or even pen and paper have inevitably been shelved due to an inability of myself or the tools to do the job the way I have in my mind.


Enter Day One, primarily a journalling app, which is both a Mac and universal iOS app that I have found to be an ideal solution for this purpose. I tend to input workout data on my iPhone and review on my iPad.

As far as my workouts are concerned, these are generally either home based resistance training sessions conducted in the early morning darkness of the back yard (EZ bar, dumbbells, resistance bands, anything else I can dip on or hang from), or sprint running sessions in similar lighting (or lack thereof) at the local high school. Either way, I do find it beneficial to track these for self satisfaction at having completed another session, as a reference to check progress, or to set weights for the next session.

Resistance Training

Though a whole post (if not a series) is required to adequately describe my use of the app Drafts, this is the starting point for the resistance sessions. They are titled according to the type of workout, for example Weights for time – 21/16 or Weights for strength. The 21/16, refers to a 2 lap circuit, the first of which has 21 repetitions, with the second set containing 16. I generally do 4–5 exercises per session.

Once the exercises and weights for each are written in Drafts, it is simply a matter of starting the stopwatch, and noting whether the repetitions were met in one effort or broken up into multiple efforts to reach the rep total. For example, if Deadlifts took, 3 efforts to reach 21 reps in the first round and 2 efforts to reach 16 reps in the second, we then have as follows

Deadlifts 40kg

Each exercise and results are completed in the above manner in Drafts. Upon completion of the session, the time is then recorded in the title of the Draft, thus for a session of 19 minutes and 6 seconds, the title appears as follows:

Weights for time 21/16 – 19:06

I have included a screenshot below of a completed workout, which was a 16/9 circuit that day.


Walking/Running Sessions

As I mentioned above, these sessions are undertaken at the local high school oval, where at 5am it is pitch black, and I am relying on my inherent knowledge that the track is flat and even, as I certainly have no way of seeing where my feet are being placed – I guess it makes things a little more interesting.

These sessions are therefore titled School Run in Day One and are originally generated in Runkeeper, which gives me total distance, total time, and average min/km pace (though average pace is really not important as a large part of the total time is spent walking to the school oval for the sprint repetitions) Calories burnt are really not of interest to me. At the completion of the session I snap a screenshot of the Runkeeper summary, and add this to Day One, along with manually recording the sprint repetitions.

The screenshot below shows a session which involved six 30m efforts and two 200m efforts.


Overview of Entries

Once each session is completed, and sent to Day One from either Drafts or the Runkeeper screenshot, Workout tags are added to both types of session, with a second tag containing either Weights or Walk_Run, to enable a second level of filtering.

Day One Screenshots


Advantages of Using Day One

Ease of Use – Primarily I find Day One to be the best means of recording workout information due to it’s ease of use, which is certainly enhanced by using Drafts and Runkeeper in combination. I acknowledge the simplicity of information I record may be limiting for those used to maintaining a more detailed exercise log, however the more time I have to spend on data input increases the likelihood I will not record anything at all.

Additional Information
Along with the actual workout information contained therein, Day One automatically time and date stamps the entry, which I find quite helpful as I do not want to spend time adding this when it can be automated. Though not critical, it is a nice addition to have the location and weather also recorded (perhaps using a cold day as an excuse for poor performance?)

The information recorded in Day One can be modified or viewed on all Mac / iOS devices through Dropbox or iCloud syncing, with entries able to be exported as a PDF file also. Markdown is supported for text entry, and a nice touch is that hashtags in text are converted to native tags when entered in Day One.

Though there a many uses for Day One, the outline above demonstrates what has been working really well for me for some time now. I do also use it for it’s intended purpose of journalling, even if my entries are few and far between.

Day One is available at the App Store now.