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Chronicles for Living | Why do we feel compelled to keep a diary?

Chronicles for Living | Why do we feel compelled to keep a diary?

As humans, we’re compelled to mark and measure the passing of time. Watches, calendars, lunar cycles, the seasons — whatever system we choose to use, it’s because we’ve found it helps us make sense of our experience here on planet earth. 

As diary-designers, this fascinates us. Over the past few months we've started looking into the history of calendars and 'time-marking' in general, to explore how and why people feel compelled to keep track of time and activities, and to build structured systems that represent segments of time.

Our research is still in its early days, but we wanted to share some of the fascinating images we've come across so far:

A Calendar from the 1483 Nuremberg Chronicle, showing the days of the week as concentric planetary rings around the earth. In the Jewish Calendar the days are designated by their position in relation to the Sabbath. Image from Thames & Hudson 'The Calendar: Measuring Time.'
A fragment of an Ancient Egyptian calendar, showing gifts to be made to the Gods when the star Sirius rises again after 70 days' absence. The Egyptian Calendar was anchored by the star Sirius in the skies, and by the regular flooding of the Nile down on earth.

These examples of 'calendars' in various forms demonstrate  how innate this instinct is to mark time; and how universal this activity is, across cultures and languages. It's remarkable to see that the Ancient Egyptians organised their markings into grids, much as we do in designing the Mark+Fold Diary today.

Many of these designs seem to be an attempt to 'compartmentalise' and rationalise time into neat little boxes, all the better to make sense of, and to comprehend, the complexities of the world around us, turning the immensity of time into bite-size little chunks we feel much happier about.



Past conversations with our customers on the subject of diary use seem to centre on how calm they make us feel. Comments like, “my life’s so complicated, it’s like air traffic control. But once I write everything down it all makes sense. It’s all clear.” 

What's the feeling you get when you write in your new diary for the first time? Do you use it as a tool to plan far ahead? Or to remember where you need to be tomorrow? Some tell us it's about keeping a log of the past, something you look back on and see where you've been, what you've achieved — so perhaps that's you? We'd love to hear how you use yours. Share your thoughts over on our JOURNAL or share some images on Instagram with the tag #mymarkandfold so others in our community can see how you use yours.