Journaling Every Day
What is it about?
What do Marc Aurelius, Leonardo Da Vinci, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, George Lucas and Tim Ferriss have in common? They all journal (or have journaled). Writing down thoughts, events, feelings, and ideas on a regular basis is an ancestral habit, practiced by most of the great men and women whose names went down in history.
Keeping a journal can serve different purposes, and you do not need to be a famous and influential person to enjoy its benefits.
First, it offers an efficient cathartic release. Laying down your troubles and passions is an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety. Expressing and exteriorizing problems, emotions and sentiments on paper helps you to process them without fear or stress.
Keeping track of your life, the events you go through, and what is happening around you can be of great value. For yourself first, as you can easily “travel in your past”, recover lost memories and reflect back on your life. But also for posterity, as it can be a testimony of a time, its events and how you lived them.
It stimulates your creativity and writing skills. As for many other skills, the more you practice, the better you become. Regular writing also helps you to process and communicate complex ideas more easily and effectively. And writing down your thoughts, ideas, and memories, even If they seem dull on the surface can lead you to brainstorm new ideas and to think outside the box.
Finally, it can be a good productivity tool. You can use your journal to set goals, keep track of your progress, document ideas and successes, list and track tasks… Materializing your goals and objectives on paper make it more real and create a sense of commitment. Once written down, they can’t be erased. It has a powerful motivational effect that boosts your efficiency and will.
How to start
It can seem a little bit odd or be intimidating to start a journal. A good and accessible way to discover journaling is the method used by Tim Ferriss, directly inspired by Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages”, developed in her book “The Artist’s Way”.
The idea is to take a few minutes each morning to trap on paper the thoughts that wander in your head. That way, you clear your mind from invasive or troubling thoughts and start the day with a clearer mindset.
You do not need to have any particular writing skills, and as Tim Ferriss notes, your journal is not necessarily meant to be read: “the process matters more than the product”.
Get your journal
First things first: you need to pick a blank journal. As trivial as it may seem, you need to take some parameters into account. If you travel a lot or plan to bring your journal at work, don’t go for something too cumbersome. But don’t go for tiny notebooks either, as they will not be practical when writing. Don’t neglect the aesthetic aspect: having a journal that you find nice will motivate you to write.
Having a pen loop is a plus.
To be most beneficial to your day, your journaling sessions should occur in the morning, before starting your daily activities. But it’s not always easy to find time in the morning. Preparing for the day is often a stressful rush. You can gain some time by prepping certain things the night before, like your clothes. If you lack time, try to journal while drinking your coffee or tea or during your commute.
When your morning is so busy that you can’t find a minute for your journal, postpone your session to the evening, before going to bed for example. It’s also good to take some time at the end of the day to reflect back.
It’s time to open your journal. Start by identifying the new entry with the current date. Make it visible by underlining or framing it, it will make your journal easier to read when you’ll feel the need to dig into past entries.
Then, start writing down what’s on your mind, or whatever helps you start the day in a good mood. You can write about many different things:
- What’s bothering you right now, problems you are facing
- What you are grateful for
- What you’re happy about or proud of
- Your tasks or objectives for the day
- Some ideas or reflections
- Your affirmation statements
- Quotes you like and that inspire you
If you have some trouble finding what to write, you can draw. Just like writing, drawing stimulates creativity, is an excellent medium of expression and has many cognitive benefits. So when words don’t come, draw, sketch or doodle something.
Journaling can be hard at first, but the more you’ll do it, the more natural and effective it’ll become. As for every other habit, it’s a matter of repetition. You can set up reminders or use a dedicated habits app to help you create your new journaling ritual.
Tip: If you don’t want others to read your journal, store it in a safe place.
Pick a blank journal that is practical and that you find nice
Find a time span in your morning where you can get at least 5 minutes without interruption
If you can't, postpone your journaling session to the evening
Note the current date and start writing down your daily entry
Trap on paper what’s bothering you, problems you are facing, what you’re happy about or proud of, some ideas or reflections, drawings… no restriction, no obligation!
Improve writing skills
Keep track of events
Find solution to problems
Express and exteriorize sentiments and emotions
Journal every morning for 1 week
Journal every morning for 2 weeks
Journal every morning for 1 month