With the growing amount of information around us, it’s becoming harder and harder to even remember what we did yesterday. We are surely not growing by overthinking things but by reflecting on a few key instances from the day and thinking about how we can improve the situation when it happens the next time.
As more and more people started talking about journaling on the internet, it got me curious as to what all the fuss is about. With all this in mind, I decided to dive deeper into this topic.
Till now, I had thought of journaling as a way to keep track of the happenings in your life and get the thoughts more organized. And not something that I’d like to carve time out for in my busy routine.
But on reading a little about it, I found that it is right up there with meditation and exercise as a self-development tool. And man, I was wrong about what all journaling could do.
Journaling can loosely be defined as regularly reflecting on something and writing things down, whether it is in a paper notebook or even using some software. Slowing things down leads to better-thought-through, more effective judgment, and to learn what to do more of and what to change.
Benefits to Journaling
There are numerous benefits to journaling. But I want to mention a few unconventional ones that don’t get a lot of attention.
Journaling can serve as a place where to dump your thoughts to simply get them out of your mind. It often leads to better sleep. Tim Ferris is a huge fan of journaling in the morning. In his book “Tools of Titans” he says that writing in a journal doesn’t have to solve your problems, but “you need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull.”
The best thinking comes from structured reflection — and the best way to do that is keeping a personal journal. It is the time reserved only for you, to reset yourself, gain clarity and perspective, calm down, and achieve peace of mind.
“Pain + Reflection = Progress”
When “Pain” comprises the regular leaving of your comfort zone, facing resistance, pushing your boundaries, failing, getting rejected, uncomfortable events throughout the day, not living up to your expectations, etc., then “Reflection” is learning from that pain, through processing, reviewing and accountability.
We lie to ourselves every day about what we’ve achieved and the time we’ve spent on key tasks. It’s much harder to lie to oneself when you’ve to write it down. It ensures that learning never stops and each day presents at least a tiny step in the right direction.
Setting time aside to write, whether morning or evening, is an act of discipline. And discipline begets discipline.
Journal for your grandchildren
Stop wasting your time tweeting and chattering and texting and snap chatting. Fifty years from now, our own notebooks, if we work up the initiative to start them, will be around to astonish and inspire our grandchildren, unlike our tweets and Facebook posts.
Journal for your future self
We so often make big decisions in life based on predictions of how we think we’ll feel in the future, or what we’ll want. It helps to have an accurate picture of your past. Future you will want to look back at this time in your life, and find out what you were actually doing, day-to-day, and how you really felt back then. It will help you make better decisions.
On June 12, 1942, Anne Frank made her first entry to her famous, existentially essential diary, “I hope you’ll be a great source of comfort and support.” Twenty-four days after that first entry, Anne and her Jewish family were forced into hiding, in the cramped attic annex over her father’s warehouse in Amsterdam. Anne didn’t write in her journal every day. She wrote when she was upset or dealing with a problem. She wrote when she was confused. She wrote in that journal as a form of therapy, so as not to unload her troubled thoughts on the family and compatriots with whom she shared such unenviable conditions. “Paper,” she said, “has more patience than people.”
Why do people still not do it?
- It takes time, a most precious asset. Because a journal requires reflection, it’s best done during quiet periods, which are rare in this fast-paced life.
- Sometimes, keeping a journal requires reliving something one would just as soon forget. Even though a vital step in learning, it’s unpleasant.
- People just want to keep on jumping from challenge to challenge.
How to get started with it?
Think about how often you are going to write your journal? Try to journal little but often. Daily 5–10 mins tends to work better.
Now what to write? You can write 3 things you’re thankful for that day. You may just capture your mood at that moment. But if you are still not sure what to write, there are journaling prompts available that you could use to get started.
Try to note down an event within 24 hours of its occurrence to avoid losing any specificity.
Handwriting engages more parts of the brain than typing and it’s easier to remember once you’ve written it down on a piece of paper. Also, always write with a pen rather than a pencil.
If you want to cultivate a habit out of it, start so small like a line a day, so that not doing it feels ridiculous. Or note down just enough, that it doesn’t interfere with your other habits. Put it as a recurring thing on your google calendar.
A journal can also be used to become more systematic and organized with the day to day tasks you need to perform while keeping the bigger goal in mind. The bullet journal is a good way to do this. I started using it and immediately saw an uptick in productivity.
The sources of anxiety or worry, the frustrations that routinely pop up at the worst times, the reasons you have trouble staying in relationships, whatever problem you are dealing with — take them to your journal. You’ll be shocked by how good you feel after.
Even though you might not be sure if journaling will have the benefits on your life as pointed out by me. And you may not have time for it during your busy routine. But give it a try anyway for 1 week and decide if it is for you.
Thanks for reading.
- The More Senior Your Job Title, the More You Need to Keep a Journal
- How Only One Habit Can Transform Your Life — The Art Of Journaling
- What’s All This About Journaling?
- 10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Keeping a Journal
- The Forgotten Art of Journaling and Three Reasons to Start
- Benjamin Franklin: How A Journal Can Help You Lead A Better Life
- The Art of Journaling: How To Start Journaling, Benefits of Journaling, and More
- How to Start Journaling
- How to bullet journal
Hello! I am Jatin Gupta, a product designer based in Herndon, Virginia. Currently, I am designing for T-Mobile for business.
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