Listen to any self-help podcast, or read any self-help book, and you're bound to hear something about how to journal to improve your life. Now, does just starting a journal improve your life? Probably not. What it does is get you in the process of assessing and improving your own thoughts. Journalling can act as an addition to meditation, or even in addition to a meditation routine (which we'll cover next week).
Below you'll find three easy tips for how to journal. However, don't take these as the only way to journal - you can simply search, "How to journal," and find a myriad of ways to incorporate this beneficial practice into your life.
Journalling, like many things in your life, is about building it into a habit you don't have to choose to do on a daily basis. To make this happen, it has to start out being easy to accomplish, and also enjoyable. Here's how.
When you're wondering how to journal, you may think you need to take on a huge amount of journalling every single day. Stop. Don't go there. Instead, think about the absolute minimum amount of effort you need to put forth to create change. If you're familiar with the start up SaaS world, you can think of your first journalling effort as your minimum viable product, or MVP.
When a new start up is creating a technology, they're asking themselves, "what is the least complicated, least expensive thing I can produce and still grab some market share?"
This is the same mindset to bring to journalling. For you, journalling may be about getting your thoughts out onto a piece of paper quickly and easily. If this is the case, try starting with a simple 2 minute or 3 minute journal. Just word vomit all over the page.
If you have a cluttered mind and are looking for a way to export a to do list, try setting a timer for ten minutes and writing out your plan of attack for the day. Anything after ten minutes is not that important, anyway.
Whatever the smallest barrier to entry is for your journalling routine, start with that, and build on it over time.
When you're picking up a new habit, you'll forget from time to time - everyone does. This is completely ok, but you can keep it from happening all the time by simply putting it into whatever calendar you use on your phone.
Personally, I am out the door 20 minutes after I wake up, so I absolutely cannot journal first thing in the morning without waking up earlier. Therefore, I've always found the evenings to be a better way to journal. It helps me unwind from the day, write down to do lists for tomorrow, and go to bed relaxed and feeling in control of what tomorrow may bring. Plus, I like sleep.
I recommend choosing the part of your day which is least busy to do your journalling. Nothing ruins a peaceful situation like trying to jam too much work into too little time, and wondering if you're going to be late for that appointment (or the start of CrossFit class).
Feel free to try out mornings, afternoons, and night. Whichever feels easiest, stick with that.
Nothing is more annoying than working a new habit into your routine and not knowing if it is helping or not. So, when you think about how to journal, you should also think about how to make your journal effective for your life.
What are you looking to gain from this journal?
What problem are you having that you're looking to alleviate?
Keeping this in mind while journalling helps keep it engaging and interesting while you're going through the day to day hum-drum of not totally knowing what to write.
Make a goal, stick to your plan, and see if it works.
There you have it, the first installment in our Mindset Tips series. You'll see a few of these come out, and we'd love your feedback on what you read. What mindset tricks have you used to level up this year? Let us know in the comments or on social media!