Here I’ve listed five ways I journal in the order I do them on a daily basis… Well most days, as I’m aiming for consistency over perfection (and so should you!). The first four I do as part of my morning routine and the fifth I do just before heading to bed. If you’re not doing any of these yet, I’d recommend starting with one and building up from there!
All you need is a pen and a notebook (check out some nice stationary here), but you could start with just a random piece of paper, so no excuses! I do recommend journaling with pen and paper as opposed to digitally – it’s more relaxing and you’re less tempted by all the digital distractions.
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Reminding yourself of your big goals
It helps to focus my mind on what’s important. I’ve adapted my big goals for the year since discovering I was pregnant. (They’re less ambitious on the exercise front for example!) The main idea is to write your goals down in a positive way, in the present tense.
Examples: This year I am working on logging 1,000 miles. This month I am working on getting to 50,000 words of research material. This week I am working on typing up my fieldwork notes.
Writing out affirmations
This helps me to build the self-image to reach my goals. If we don’t believe we’re a certain type of person (e.g. a runner, an entrepreneur), then we subconsciously sabotage our efforts towards becoming that kind of person. If you don’t know where to start and want a bit more inspiration on this front, check out the meditations in the Living the Goodenough Life community – every day comes with a positive affirmation that you could include in your journaling routine. Again, you want to write positive statements in the present tense.
Examples: I apply myself and get the results I want. I maintain healthy habits, such as regular exercise. My schedule brings me joy. There’s no need to be perfect, take a step in the right direction. I am already enough.
Setting out your intentions for what you’re going to do today
After writing out my goals and my affirmations, I journal about the main things I am going to do that day. The video below outlines this in more detail:
Example: An important thing for me to do today is to schedule a blog post. I am doing this to create a regular blogging schedule and to share my ideas with the world, hopefully helping people in the process. I will feel accomplished and proud of myself for doing so.
Braindump / stream-of-consciousness journaling
This is a shorter version of the “morning pages” technique made famous by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self. (I haven’t read it by the way, so if you have, please do tell me what you thought in the comments below!) The main idea is to put pen to paper, decide how long you’re going to write for (e.g. one page) and just write what comes to mind, without censoring yourself.
This is really good for getting your thoughts out of your head and processing them. It’s especially beneficial if you’ve got a lot going on, you’re stressed about something specific or you’re experiencing a bit of a slump. Getting your thoughts out on paper helps to stop them whizzing around in your head and allows you to start making sense of them. Try it and you’ll see!
Check out my free guide to making time for what is important in eight steps – with tools at your fingertips!
Recapping your day in one or two sentences
So this is the one I do in bed, just before going to sleep (or reading a bit). I use Gretchen Rubin’s One-Sentence Journal, but you could start out with a plain notebook or a dated planner. I’ve now completed a full one and I’m onto my second journal – which means I’ve got more than five years of my life that I can look back on!
It’s also a good way of practicing gratitude and reminding yourself of the good things that happened that day. The man and I already share three things we’re grateful for from that day with each other at bedtime, but if you don’t have someone to do that with, this journaling practice would be a great opportunity to do so!
Sometimes drawing helps us to destress and let go of what is on our mind. “Drawing” is quite a generous word here as I only spend a couple of minutes doodling a day (on the bottom of the page I use for journaling in the morning). If you want to be a bit more organised about it, you could use a book as a starting point or take a Skillshare class to improve your confidence.
I bought the Tombow pens I mentioned in my back-to-school wishlist post and I followed some of the prompts from Furry Little Peach‘s Inktober challenge. It doesn’t matter what month you’re reading this in or at what point in the month you start. Just jump in to a challenge, anyone can do it!
Can you see the value of journaling, but you’re not sure how to fit it into your already busy day? Then you need my guide to reducing overwhelm and prioritising what’s important. Click here to get it for free!