Why You Need to Journal and How to Do it Consistently7 min read
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Do you keep a journal? Do you write in it consistently? There are so many ways to grow through journaling – it really is something that everyone can and should benefit from. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, there is so much perspective that can be gained by processing your thoughts through writing.
- To gain and keep a clear perspective on your life
- For tracking achievement, and a reminder of how far you have come
- Getting your thoughts out on paper helps reduce stress
- You can process feelings through writing
- When you take the time to process thoughts and feelings, you are generally able to make better decisions
- Journaling can help you keep a positive attitude when you are daily prompted to remain grateful
- To help you reflect on the past and use it to build your future
- It creates a written legacy that can be passed down for generations to come
How to Journal Consistently
Writing a journal is something that I have personally struggled with ever since I can remember. I love writing in general, and I love to process my thoughts by writing about them. It is just one of those things that I have a hard time carving the time out for.
I also used to try to journal for about 30 minutes a day, and with all these littles in our house, I found that to be unrealistic. Thankfully, I have discovered some methods that actually make journaling realistic in my world…
Pick Your Medium
First, you need to determine where the best place will be to record your thoughts. You can start with deciding if you want to go digital or hand written. There are benefits to both, so pick which works best for you. The most important aspect is to pick something you are most likely to use.
- Some of us can type faster than we can write
- If you have a lot on your mind, you can type out quick notes (an outline) and come back to fill in – ensuring you don’t miss anything
- It’s accessible from many areas (assuming you use an online version) or you can type up anywhere and transfer to your collection point
- Great for perfectionists – those of us who will rip out a page in a notebook and start over due to one little mistake
- Digital journals are generally searchable, which can be a nice feature when you are trying to look up something from the past
- Some of us can write faster than we can type
- There is an intimacy with a handwritten journal that you just can’t duplicate with something digital
- Studies are finding that when you hand write something, there is a connection that is made in your brain that doesn’t happen the same when you type
- Having a finished journal to go through is very nostalgic both when it is completed as well as years down the road
There are so many different options for a handwritten journal. Get something that you love so that you are encouraged to pick it up every day. I have a leather journal from when I was in college that is beautiful. I currently love my small notebooks that fit into my Travelers Notebook (I love this one by Chick Sparrow) and my Leuchtturm1917 notebook .
A Little of Both
I actually use both methods, taking advantage of the benefits of each. My handwritten journal is used for my daily pages – these are short and only take about two minutes to complete. I use my digital journal on Penzu for my weekly journal that tends to take me a little longer to write in.
Keep it Short
This is a big one. You don’t have to spell out your entire life story or every detail of the day’s events in your journal. Be intentional with your words. If you fall into the trap of feeling like you need to write too much, it will be more difficult to set aside the time to write.
This does not mean that every journal entry needs to be done in two minutes or less. If there is something big going on or you are full of emotions that you really need to work through – give yourself the time to do so. Just don’t put the pressure on yourself to write for 30-60 minutes each day.
Use a Template
A template can help to keep your writing quick and easy, yet intentional in the fact that you are making sure to get the important things down. It is also helpful to get you writing faster rather than staring at a blank page when you sit down to journal.
Think about what you want to be able to come back to for reference. What is the most helpful for you to intentionally think about on a daily basis? I have two templates that I use – one for daily journaling and another for my weekly journaling that is a little more through.
Here is an example of what I include in my daily journal template:
- What I’m doing
- How I’m feeling
- Highs & lows
- Lessons learned
This can be written in twice a day – the first two to three items addressed in the morning and the last two to three items addressed in the evening. It can also be done all at the end of the day, or even in the morning referring to the previous day. I love the flexibility. Every once in awhile, if I have the time and there are complex things going on, I will take the time to process some additional thoughts as well.
Here is an example of what I include in my weekly journal template:
- Highs & lows (include accomplishments)
- What lessons did I learn? (it’s not about what happens to us, but what we learn from it)
- What could I have done better?
- What am I thankful for?
- How am I feeling mentally?
- How do I feel physically?
- What have I been reading?
- Plans for this week?
- Additional thoughts?
This gives you the opportunity to go a little deeper into things. You can also look at the past week in a slightly bigger picture than what you get at the end of the day. I find it helpful to do a quick review of my daily pages as a reminder on how I was thinking or feeling about things as they were happening. I can then contrast the perspective I have at the end of the week.
Schedule time and make it a habit
The only way you will actually write in your journal is if you commit to doing it. Use self-discipline to get you through the first number of weeks and consistently remind yourself to do it. Soon enough, it will be a habit that you have found you can’t live without.
Also be mindful of recording your thoughts throughout the day as they are happening. I have a spot on my daily planner where I can write down prayer and gratitude notes. I will often take a picture of this using my phone and paste it into Penzu as a journal entry.
Don’t forget your why
If you find yourself slacking in the journaling department, I encourage you to remember your why. You can also go back through some of your past journal entries and be reminded of the benefits of perspective, clarity, attitude, and more.
Are you not seeing the benefits yet? Make sure you are intentional with what thoughts you put to paper. Although journals are great for memories, make sure that you are first and foremost using your journal to grow yourself.
What habit will you work on to start journaling today? If you are an avid journaler already, what lessons have you learned in the process?
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