Sunday, 23 November 2014

Review - Using Journl online personal organiser to plan a holiday

Unfortunately Journl is no longer available.

I was recently given the opportunity to try out Journl - an online personal organiser designed to keep track of everything that's going on in your life.

Review of Journl online personal organiser

You open Journl to your In-Tray, which contains your calendar, a general To Do list, information that you have recently added, as well as the option to create new elements that can then be moved elsewhere. Then you have tabbed sections along the top. Initially have three called Me, Home and Work, but you can delete them, rename them and add new ones to suit your own purposes. Within each section you can then create Notebooks for different topics.

Journl in tray screenshot

Using Journl for holiday planning 

I tried out the Journl app by using it to plan our recent holiday to Florida.

First I created a new Notebook in the Me section called Florida 2014. The main Notebook screen displays a calendar and To Do list, then you can create titled pages for all the different areas. On each page of your Notebook you have a variety of different elements that you can add to the page. They are Note, List, Checklist, Shopping List, Money List and Documents.

Using Journl to play a holiday

I make lots of lists before we go away anywhere, so it was really handy to have them all in one place. I used a "Before we go" page to make a Shopping List of things that we needed to buy before we went, and a Checklist of tasks that needed to be completed. I also have an electronic packing list that I print out each time we go away, and I'm intending to enter it electronically into Journl. If I create it as a Checklist then it can be copied and moved, so I could copy it and move it into a new folder for each holiday that we take.

I found the Documents element handy to store documentation related to the holiday. This is particularly useful as it can be accessed remotely from any location as long as you have internet access, and on your phone if you have the iPhone app. You could use this folder to store files with booking information, insurance details, itinerary plans, e-tickets, receipts and so on. I also used the Documents element to store electronic copies of our touring plans for the Disney parks which were .pdf files created by a touring plan website.

From the iPhone app you can even snap a photo to add to the files so you don't even need to scan things in, for example a quick photograph of your passport or driving licence (obviously make sure that you are happy with the security of your account and password and think carefully about the type of information that you are storing). You can also add documents just by dragging and dropping them from a folder on your computer.

Journl personal organiser

The Money List lets you keep track of your spending by adding in an item and the price and it will tally the total cost for you. This would be great for keeping a track of expenses as you go along so you can quickly see a total cost for the holiday. You could also use it in advance to plan your budget for the trip and work out how much cash you need to exchange.

I also found more uses while we were away, for example I was making notes for my diary and blog posts in a small notebook. I took a photograph of the finished pages and stored them electronically in Journl as a backup in case something happened to the physical notebook.

On the "Contact information" page I kept a List of important contact details, for example telephone numbers for the banks to cancel cards and phone numbers for the insurance and for the villa that we stayed in as well as a few details of people back home.

Other uses

As I mentioned above, the main Journl screen acts as your In-Tray, and you can use it to quickly dump Lists or Notes and come back to file them in the correct Notebook later.

This works really well when you are out and about using the app and want to work quickly. It's very easy to move these individual elements to the relevant Notebook. A feature that I liked is the ability to select either "Choose" to just move something or "Choose and Follow" if you want to be taken to where you've actually moved it, very handy! Once moved elements disappear from the In-Tray. The screenshot below shows me in the process of moving the List called "Rides that we want to go on again" from the main In-Tray, where it was created quickly on the go, to the Touring plans page of my Florida 2014 Notebook.

Journl review

Now that we are back I'm also starting to think of ways that I can use Journl to organise other areas of my life. In particular I can see that Journl would be really useful as a blog planner. You could use a separate Notebook for each blog to maintain a long-term to do list and ideas list, as well as using the Calendar feature to plan out blog posts in advance. For my blog I could make pages for different themes e.g. Christmas or Easter, to collect together different craft, recipe and activity ideas.

It's really easy to edit and move around Notebooks and elements that you've already created. For example, if I use Journl to plan more holidays in the future it would probably make sense to make a separate section for "Holidays" and keep all my different holiday Notebooks in that section.

This is a sponsored review, and I was also given a year's subscription to try out Journl.

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