The Essentials, Issue #65: Pandemic journaling – Morning Brew

Leading Off


Journaling, like using your turn signal, is something most people don’t do no matter how beneficial it is. I totally understand the reluctance—it’s difficult to wrestle your thoughts onto the page, especially during a pandemic. But you might be looking at the wrong page. Here are four alternative approaches to journaling that’ll make it easier for you to vent about people not using their turn signals. 

  • Make yourself the hero: The Hero’s Journal is a productivity tool that disguises your goals as a heroic quest to be completed…with you as the hero. I’ve used it to help train for a half-marathon and can confirm that the quest narrative helps with motivation. 
  • Clear your mind: James Clear’s Habit Journal pairs with his book Atomic Habits like a fine wine. Less exciting than the Hero’s Journal, but just as effective.
  • One at a time: If you’re looking to dip your toe into journaling, the One Line a Day memory book maximizes idea capture with minimal writing. Plus, when we get back to a time with more precedent, it might be nice to take a trip down 2020’s memory lane. 
  • Doodle: If writing isn’t your thing, don’t force it—doodle instead. It’s more fun, great for the brain, and there’s no such thing as a grammar police in drawing. Here are five good options for art journals. 

Bottom line: There are plenty of benefits to open-a-Moleskin-and-write-about-your life journaling, too. The NYT has a great guide walking you through this type of writing, but as always, do what works best for you. 

Stay Sharp

Level Up: Note-taking has come a long way from spiral notebooks. Roam Research is a notetaking-tool that links your ideas in a way that reflects how your brain actually works. It just closed a $9 million round of funding and I’m a huge fan. It does cost money, but give the 30-day free trial a spin—your brain will thank you. 

Get lost in a hole: If you like email newsletters (since you’re reading this I’m going to assume you do), this list of the 80 best single operator newsletters is a gold mine. It highlights the very best individual newsletter writers in categories such as politics, productivity, and pop culture.

Stay up to date: Watch the epic trailer for the upcoming Dune movie. There’s something magical about a well-executed movie trailer, and I’ll be the first to admit I got the chills watching Dune’s even though I have no idea what it’s about. Check out Watch Mojo’s top 50 trailers of all time if you want more mini-movie magic. 



Fresh beats: Will Smith, the Fresh Prince himself, made a playlist of chill beats to vibe to while in quarantine. It was the background music for this edition of The Essentials, too, so if you’re reading this, thanks Will. 

Fresh produce: I’ve gotten really into avocado toast during the last few months, but if I don’t use a full avocado, it’s tough to keep it fresh for more than a day. Here are some of the NYT’s tips on keeping your produce fresh while this video solves my avocado problem and a bunch of other kitchen lifespan woes. 

Fresh Prince: This online pop-up store sells Fresh Prince of Bel-Air merch to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the iconic show’s premiere. I’m a little young to have watched the show regularly, but for some reason this pop-up shop still made me feel nostalgic for a better time. 

Dept. of Cool Ideas

While it’s agonizing to choose a show on Netflix, the process of picking out a new book to read is just as painful. Here are a few tips to stop you from rereading Hunger Games for the fifth time:

Go diving: An ocean of books allows you to scroll through an actual ocean of books. Every author you’ve ever heard of has their own island where you can peruse their body of work. Then scroll around to discover similar writers near them. 

Narrow it to a science: Whichbook takes a much more measured approach to book discovery. Use multiple sliding continuums to set your mood and watch the book suggestions adjust accordingly. If you’re feeling 70% sad, 25% larger than life, and 80% optimistic, apparently The Life of a Banana by PP Wong is the book for you. 

Okay, fine…if you’re already tired of books, here’s a Netflix roulette wheel to help you choose something for your next movie night. 

+ While we’re here: This piece on how the reign of Goodreads (the largest community for sharing books) is coming to an end is a great read.

Happy Place

Getty Images

I was born and raised in Florida, and while I fully accept its role as the punchline of most jokes, it does have some positives, namely these cute fellas. This picture is from the perennially warm Crystal River, where manatees come to hang in the winter. 


And that’s that! Hope you discover a great book to read, a good journal to journal in, or a Fresh new fit. If you do, let me know by replying to this email or by connecting with me on Twitter. Have a great rest of your Monday.