Why you Should Start Keeping a Journal
Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights
What one tool can help you clarify your thoughts when you’re upset, assess whether you’re reaching your goals or help you to define a career path? The answer is: a journal. Oh and it will help you to feel happier. Pretty amazing, hey?
What is a journal?
People often confuse journals with diaries. A diary is a record of personal and daily experiences and is usually kept private. Whereas a journal is a record or log book which is used for personal growth. Most importantly, a journal should be positive. So whilst you shouldn’t supress your thoughts, when you are faced with challenges ask yourself what you learnt or what went right, rather than thinking negatively.
Who should journal?
Everyone! There are no barriers to journaling. Alex Ikkon (creator of The Five Minute Journal) believes that journaling is the simplest most effective thing we can do each day to be happier.
Reasons you should start journaling
In the modern world journaling can feel uncomfortable at first because focused writing isn’t something many of us do regularly. Journaling can also remind us of our teenage years spent pouring out our hearts into a private diary. However, there are far more reasons you should journal than not.
Here are some of them:
1) It makes you happy
2) It makes you more mindful
3) It helps you to make sense of the world and create balance in your life
4) It focuses your mind on the positive rather than the negative
5) It helps you achieve your goals
6) It boosts your memory and your comprehension
7) It strengthens self discipline
8) It improves your communication skills
9) It sparks your creativity
10) It increases your self confidence
What format should a journal take?
Journals are flexible so you can tailor their framework to meet your needs. Examples of different journal types include:
- Free form – you write about anything that comes into your head
- Structured – you use prompts (e.g. questions) to structure your writing
- Travel – you write about your experiences whilst away from home
- Goal – in the morning you write down your goal for the day and in the evening or the following morning you review whether you achieved that goal
- Awesome lists – you list all the great things that have happened in the day
- Gratitude – you write down the things you are thankful for
Digital versus analogue
Experiment but choose the method that is most likely to make your journaling habit stick.
Because our lives are so reliant on technology, digital is favoured by most people. Digital is also searchable, backed up and secure. The big problem with it is that most people get distracted too easily when they are on their phone or laptop, meaning the journaling never happens. If you have the self-discipline to go digital then check out the Day One and Journey apps.
Analogue is great for giving your eyes a break and is my personal favourite. Writing on a page with a pen makes life feel real. It also has zero distractions. Treat yourself to a new Molskine book and turn your journal writing into an indulgent daily activity.
Tips for success
Before you start journaling consider the following:
Pick a time that works for you. I prefer to journal in the morning. Some people prefer evenings. Try out both options and see which one works for you.
2) Trust the system
One of the keys to personal effectiveness is trusting in your systems. Set a reminder or prompt to get you in the habit of journaling at the same time each day. New habits don’t just happen you need to create systems to support them.
3) Keep it simple
Journals don’t need to be complicated. You can start by asking yourself each day: What was the best thing that happened and what was the worst thing that happened. However, do put some thought into what you want to get out of your journal. In that way you’ll get real value.
4) Review Regularly
Weekly or monthly re-reads of your journal will help you see the progress you have made and motivate you to keep going.
If you need further advice, get in touch via My Website or LinkedIn.
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