8 Ways to Stop Thinking About Journaling and Actually Start Journaling
Are you serious about cultivating a life-changing habit that can make you more productive and keep you motivated in your professional life?
By adding journaling to your everyday life, you experience a creative art form that allows you to explore your mind in a sophisticated manner.
As humans, we take in a lot of information daily, some less useful while others are incredibly meaningful.
Journaling allows us to record the meaningful information and allows us with a way to access it at any point in time.
Creating a system that allows us to slow down and ponder on our life experiences and how each moment has changed us from what we were to what we are, makes journaling a powerful device to reflect for our future.
MAINTAINING A JOURNAL CAN POSITIVELY AFFECT YOUR LIFE DAILY. HERE’S HOW
Some of the greatest minds in history — Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, etc. owned a personal journal.
You have to wonder — why did these powerful men really need to write down their thoughts on paper when they were able to accomplish so much more? To get an answer to this question, we need to understand how journaling can alter our thought processes.
A ground-breaking study conducted by Smyth JM demonstrated how 107 patients suffering from chronic illnesses were given the assignment to write about their traumatic experience on paper for 4 months.
The clinical trial was a success and many of the patients began to feel healthier and more positive after documenting their daily lives. This study proved that by summarizing your life on paper, people were able to better reflect on their lives and come up with a solution to a problem.
This theory is further supported by another study conducted by researchers in New Zealand who utilized 49 test subjects to test if writing improved their negative feelings over a period of weeks.
By the 11th day of the study, 76% of the subjects were fully healed from their mental blocks. This was because the participants who wrote a journal were able to sleep better and the mind eliminated stress proactively and this initiated the natural healing process efficiently.
Expressive writing or journaling is a proven success in calming down a traumatized person and instantly improving moods. Let’s take for example — you’ve got to complete an exam paper by the end of the week and you are running out of ideas on how to finish it.
Journaling your inner thoughts allows you to create a mental picture and put your stress down without having to carry it in your mind.
Now, you are better able to think of a solution to your exams without allowing any other issues to cloud your judgment.
Journaling is a powerful habit and it gets increasingly better the more time passes us by.
A popular myth circulating journaling is that you need to write a lot of pages for your journal to be effective and that you don’t have the time.
This is utter nonsense!
Journaling isn’t about how much time you spend on it, it’s about having a quiet personal time for yourself to reflect on your day and understand yourself better.
Think of it as being your own personal psychiatrist and who better to make you understand yourself than your feelings.
Let’s understand a little more deeply about the various benefits that journaling can add to your personal life.
THE BENEFITS OF JOURNALING DAILY
Journaling helps to keep track and achieve goals
Think of a journal as a blueprint for your ambitions and dreams.
As a journal architect, your first goal is to create an idea of what you would like to achieve and what your end goal is. Between where you are now and where you want to be — the journey. This journey requires significant planning and hard work and is impossible to achieve without your thoughts and constant flow of ideas.
A journal helps you keep track of your scribbled words and thoughts and is a great place to validate your progress.
When you jot down words, your brain creates a process of recalling this within its very own RAS — Reticular Activating System. RAS is a network of nerve pathways located in the brain which allows us to process and organize information while sifting through millions of data.
Simply put, RAS is responsible for ignoring all the different voices you hear in your office and are still able to concentrate on your work.
By journaling on a regular basis, you train your RAS system to improve itself considerably and you can recall your goals and ambitions daily, so you don’t stash them in backseat of your mind for them to stay forgotten.
Journaling helps to understand your emotions better
Does the term Emotional Intelligence feel familiar to you?
It’s the ability to manage and perceive your emotions and provide a more in-depth knowledge of the way you feel. Journaling helps you control your emotions and analyze your feelings better. If you are feeling angry, miserable, scared, happy, or sad? Write it down! Emotions, when converted into words, offer personal insight and can be used later to reflect and solve the issue.
When you have a direct connection to your emotions, you are providing yourself with a steering wheel to control your emotions the way you want them to, instead of crashing them onto others. How many times have you regretted screaming at a loved one for a simple mistake out of anger? How many times have you felt miserable and jealous of not being able to achieve the same success compared to your colleague?
Dark feelings such as anger and jealousy if left unattended can cause greater damage to our lives in the long run.
By journaling our feelings, we get a better understanding on the days we feel anger and the days we are happy. If you feel there are more angry days in a month then it’s time to seek help from either a professional or a loved one.
Journaling boosts brain memory
Our brains are remarkable in many ways but often need help in recollecting incidents or events that transpired after a long time has passed. A journal helps to record events and helps your brain work its way through the memory upon reading an entry.
Consider this example — Say you must give a long speech to about a 100-people on environmental issues and you have 10 minutes until you hit the stage.
In these valuable 10 minutes of time, you can either panic and forget your lines and nervously backtrack your words or you can quickly jot down the important keywords in your journal that help you reflect your environmental preparation.
Having a personal journal by your side is a must in today’s age where every piece of information is processed digitally, and it can make your brain feel sloppy.
Your presentation is bound to go much more smoothly when you can explain it directly to yourself rather than having to glance at your digital device every 2-minutes.
It also gives your audience the benefit of the doubt that you are speaking from experience and not just providing information that has been written down.
Thus, journaling is a proven memory booster that can aid you in your professional life and can play an influential role in your daily tasks.
Journaling improves communication skills
In time, journaling can improve the way you communicate with others as you’ve been able to communicate with yourself efficiently. By putting words on paper, you can clean up these phrases to form meaningful sentences and eventually, form better decisions in verbal communications.
According to a report conducted by Stanford in 1996, “Writing has strong connections to speaking”.
When you write down something, it creates a purpose for yourself and develops a personal relationship with you.
Consider an example — You need to brief your boss on why you’d make the perfect candidate for the promotion but if you can’t put a point across, your boss is bound to refute your claims and offer the promotion to another.
Write down the communication you’d like to have with your boss in your journal and now weight the pros and cons of yourself.
Create a conversation that is strictly short but meaningful and puts your best points across. When you actually have the formal talk with your boss, you are better prepared and can negotiate your worth.
Journaling can spark your inner creativity
When you write directly from the mind, your creativity is sourced by yourself. Every day is a new chance for you to explore your inner self and how to better put those thoughts into creative experiences.
Try out this fun activity in your journal —
Write for a full 5-minutes without thinking and let the words flow on their own. This is known as “stream of consciousness writing” and the term was coined by Julia Cameron in her creative activity called “Morning Pages”. Julia asks her readers to write up to 3 pages of anything they can think of without having to pause. This phenomenal method puts out creative ideas that weren’t obvious to you before.
Unlocking your creative juices is something regular journaling can do to your mental state. Throughout the day you are excited about coming up with fresh ideas to put down in your journal.
This type of creativity is universal to every human being on earth and isn’t limited to only great thinkers.
8 CONVENIENT WAYS TO FORCE YOURSELF TO BEGIN JOURNALING
1. Begin the Day with Journaling
Most people avoid the act of journaling due to their busy schedule and feel that they don’t have time to commit to this activity.
Journaling isn’t about the number of words you put in the pages, it’s more to do with the process of regularizing yourself with the activity and reflecting on your thoughts.
If you have trouble journaling at night, it’s because you are tired after a long day of work and sleep is the only thing on your mind.
Hence, it’s a good idea to start your journal the very first thing as part of your morning routine.
Your mind is well rested after a good night’s rest, you are filled with tons of energy. What better time than the start of the day to scribble down the events of yesterday and to write down your current mood.
Tips to Get Started
- Just after you’ve prepared your morning coffee, set your journal aside and jot down a few words
- You could track your journaling time to not more than 5 minutes a day, you could gradually increase this time every month by 5 minutes
- In fact, you could try journaling the very first thing you do after waking up and in your bed. It’s a fun way to start your day with a creative mind
If you need a voice to motivate you to journal and why you should journal, this video by “Refuse to Settle” can help you with your journaling journey.
2. Your Writing Doesn’t Have to be Grammatically Correct
Don’t waste your time trying to form sentences, put down whatever your thoughts are on paper. After all, it’s your personal diary and only you get to see it, by focusing on your thoughts more than your linguistic skills, you encourage yourself to write daily.
You could try simplifying your sentences by using your own form of writing and there’s absolutely no stress on the type of connection you are trying to build.
Remember, this is exactly how vague the human mind works — at one point of time you are thinking on how to solve a mathematical equation and in the next moment you are wondering about that delicious pancake you are about to have for dinner tonight.
Your journal is a random playground for abstract thoughts, don’t try to organize it.
Tips to Get Started
- Instead of using full sentences you can write like “Feelin hppy tday cnt wait 2 meet my frns n tell them abt my new awesome xmas gift”
- Don’t waste time writing time stamps, you can just write your thoughts down. Once you familiarize yourself with journaling you can add the perks eventually
- Don’t stress on the punctuation and spelling too much — “Lookin frwrd fr a grt day at th park yaayyyyyy” is just perfect. Remember you aren’t writing a paper on thesis, these words are meant for you alone
3. Utilize Apps or Tools to Automate your Journal
If you’re the type that prefers technology to plain old writing, then choose among many journaling apps available to you. Apps can also be convenient, you can simply pull them up during a commute and access your thoughts or jot down your emotions in quick easy ways.
Apps feature many multimedia options to make your journal more appealing than plain old writing. You could add a picture to your journal or a video to create a video log journal.
If you are someone who loves traveling you can create a travel journal of all the places you’ve been to with your own unique experiences.
Tips to Get Started
- Diarium is a windows/android journaling app with a 7-day free trial to boot so you don’t have to pay until you like it. Features include having all your memories in one place along with daily notifications that ping you to record your journal
- Momento is an iOS only app for apple users, it allows you to relive experiences and offers plenty of engaging interactive content to make your journal look phenomenal
- Journey is an incredible journal app that connects to most major platforms (iOS, Windows, Mac, Chrome, Android). If you are someone who loves to access their journal over multiple platforms, Journey is the best bet
4. Set up an Alarm Clock to Buzz You at Your Preferred Journaling Hour Everyday
Practice makes perfect. By journaling daily, you create a habit of including journaling into your daily set of activities.
Kickstart the process by setting an alarm clock exclusively to remind you to journal every day at a specific time, you will eventually form a positive habit of clocking in your daily events.
It’s important to never use a digital device to substitute for the humble alarm clock. While your smartphone can work as an alarm unit, it’s also more likely to ruin your sleep pattern or it can get you distracted quite easily with its notification spam.
You are bound to lose track of why you started journaling, hence invest in a cheap alarm clock and make the best out of your journaling session.
Tips to Get Started
- Early morning is usually the best time to journal in the companionship of chirping birds and the sunrise, set the alarm 15 minutes before the time you wake up to accommodate your journaling session
- Ensure you keep the alarm clock away from your bed, preferably on your work desk where your journal is. This is to get you to take the effort to walk all the way to stop the alarm and immediately proceed to your journaling session
- Here’s a list of great alarm clocks you could try investing your money in
5. Start by Writing on Calendar Spaces
Every calendar has a good amount of space to write an important event. You can start your journaling by first writing a sentence each day for a month before you proceed to get yourself a personal diary.
No one said the act of journaling be in a personal log book that you secretly have to keep, you can start by taking small steps and use your calendar as a tool to record your emotions and thoughts.
In fact, due to the limited space provided by the calendar, you may need to convert long sentences into single keywords and this can push your creativity to a whole new level.
A calendar is also easy to glance at and you can conveniently notice the days you’ve missed in a month, this motivates you to attain a full string of days in a month.
Tips to Get Started
- If you like to record your emotions in your journal, simply write two words within the calendar space provided such as “angry” “co-worker”. You now know while glancing that you were angry at a co-worker on that particular day.
- If you have to write your deadlines, convert them to a single keyword. Suppose you’ve got to complete three projects, give your project names like “Project A” “Project X” and “Project Z”. This way you can write down the respective project’s name on the day of its deadline.
- Here’s a list of calendar journals that you can purchase according to your taste.
6. Carry Your Journal with You
Whether your journal is in the form of a digital device or a notebook, by carrying your journal with you, there won’t be an excuse for not logging your events for the day.
If you’re someone that records their thoughts and feelings throughout the day, then the best bet is to keep the journal with you as a form of a personal guide.
Another advantage to bringing your journal with you is, you get to record events as they transpire and without relying on memory power alone.
For example, a well-known celebrity visited your university? Jot down all the intricate details the celebrity was wearing and what color was their hair and their fashion sense. Memory alone won’t provide accurate details of an event.
Tips to Get Started
- Ensure you put your journal back into your backup or bag that you carry around for work/study. That way you won’t miss it
- Maintain a miniature journal and not a large book for portable purposes. You should be able to tuck it easily into your pockets if need be, this way you can pull it out anytime and at anyplace
- You could use a reminder service such as iDoneThis to alert you every day at specific times to log your thoughts
7. Do It Bi-monthly or even once a month
We get it, you don’t have the patience to write another word or your mind isn’t keeping up with the daily events of your life. You could always maintain the journal at a specific period — weekly, fortnight, or monthly. It’s your choice!
The best part of owning a journal is you create the rules and you have your own freedom of logging down your thoughts/emotions/deadlines/ambitions/goals. Journaling, in fact, can get infectious and in time, you will be addicted to logging your goals more than once-a-week.
By writing at your own pace you don’t force yourself into journaling and you let itself become a part of you.
Tips to Get Started
- Ensure you mark your calendar every week/month or if you use a digital journal then set up a reminder
- To develop a more frequent habit of journaling you will need to form a schedule and stick to it even if it’s once in a month or every week. This way your brain feels like it’s doing something that it’s supposed to
- 10Q offers pre-generated questions that are fun to answer, and the answers are not revealed to you for a year and are maintained in secure data vaults. You can reflect back on your answers every year to see how much of a change you’ve experienced
8. Enlist the Help of Creative Prompts
There are plenty of creative prompts available on the internet that ask you interesting questions regarding your personal life — with a new one every day. These prompts can be compiled in any Word document and you can write down your experiences each day on the list.
The randomness of each creative prompt is what engages people in writing down their own experiences.
Writing in a plain blank paper can get monotonous and it’s time to introduce yourself to pre-written prompts that allow you to test your intellect and come up with the craziest of answers and you are bound to surprise yourself with over the years.
Tips to Get Started
- Simply type in the term “journaling prompts” to your preferred search engine and be amazed by the number of choices you could try out
- The WordPress team has come up with a creative “365 days of journal prompts”. That’s one new question for every day in a year to keep you engaged and active
- Here are 65 creative journal prompts that can help you get started on your way to creating your own
A video detailing 30+ creative prompts to attain self-discovery.
Journaling is a practice and like any activity, it requires you to commit yourself to reap the rewards. The best day to start journaling is — Today! All you need is a book, a pen, and your creative mind to get started. The above strategies are created to get you to start journaling and never stop.
Remember, when you feel that you’ve got no more words to write down in those pages, it’s time to introduce adventure and travel into your life. Nothing gets the mind refreshed, like a nice vacation from work.
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