[Updated for 2020]
Let’s start with the basics.
There are two kind of journals you can keep.
- The first one is a journal/agenda.
- The second one is something you want to keep only as a journal. It’s something where you can write your thoughts, your hopes, and your dreams.
Not what you have to do tomorrow morning.
Even though the first one is an awesome kind of journal (I have one, too – it’s great for increasing your productivity), what I want to talk to you about today is the second kind.
If you’re interested in a journal/agenda, check out the video below. That’s how I organise my bullet journal, too – with few modifications – and it works like a charm!
Now, if you’re wondering, why would you ever write your thoughts out since they’re perfectly stored in your brain, then keep reading!
You see, I was a little girl when I decided to keep a journal for the first time. It didn’t end well… (More details on this later on!)
I was 20 when I started doing it again. Best decision of my life!
What I want you to keep in mind for now is that the benefits of writing in a journal DAILY – I don’t think I can write daily any more obvious – are way more than the disadvantages. And I’ll prove it!
1. Think Things Through
Writing down what happened gives you a unique perspective you’ll never find it anywhere else. It gives you the perspective of a third person.
And not any third person’s perspective. It gives you your own perspective if you were to see the situation as an observer.
Well, okay… Maybe, not exactly as an observer. I doubt anyone could do this for events concerning their own life.
But when you write down what happened, and you revisit the situations, you get to write what happened the way you’d say it to someone else.
Ever felt like you give awesome advice to others, but absolutely terrible to yourself?
Well, now, you get to give awesome advice to yourself – the way you’d do it for a friend.
When living something, you are so close to everything that happens, so affected by your emotions. But,
The closer you are, the less you see.Totally stolen from “Now You See Me”
By writing your concerns down, you take a step back and you see your problems the way they are and not like the way you feel them to be.
And usually, problems are not as serious as they seem at first. Most of them have a solution. You just need to be calm enough to see it.
2. Just Relax
Writing in a journal is a great way to leave things behind.
- Anything that stresses you out
- Anything you worry about
- Anything you regret
- Anything you feel sorry for
If you can’t change it, it’s better if you stop obsessing over it. If you can’t do anything about it, it’s better not to let it bother you.
I have to say, you can do that also by talking about it. To someone else, or even just to yourself. But for me, this works only partly. If I talk about it, I often end up obsessing over it even more with “what-if” scenarios. Which is the worst thing in the world for me. Anyway…
So when something frustrating happens to you, write about it. Write about what you feel and how it affects you. Write even what you could have done differently if this is something you’re thinking right now. Write anything that comes to mind.
Once you have all your thoughts on paper, then close your journal and immediately, you’ll start to feel better. Out of sight, out of mind!
3. Complain Away
This is your journal. And since it’s rightfully yours, you’re allowed to write anything you want in it.
So don’t hesitate to complain all you want about anyone you want!
- That someone in your workplace who makes you angry.
- That family member who keeps driving you crazy. (I love you, mom!)
- That friend who can’t take a break and needs all your time.
No one’s going to judge you for this.
Even if I’d use it just for this, I still believe that keeping a journal is incredibly useful!
And I repeat: No one is going to judge you for what you wrote. So feel free to write anything you feel like!
4. Dream In It
Use your journal to write down your dreams!
- About your career.
- About your personal life.
- Things you want to do.
- Places you want to visit.
Remember? No one to judge here.
So write down anything you’d like to have in your life, do in your life, be in your life. Writing about your dreams makes them more concrete, more real.
Some people believe that dreaming is useless, that dreaming is a waste of time. But if you can’t dream about something, how will you ever make the decision to go after it?
5. Plan Your Life
You’ve written about your dreams. Now what?
Now you get to plan how to get all you want.
Planning makes achieving easier. It’s not just a general idea of something you’d like to do someday. It’s a step-by-step plan you have to follow to achieve your dream.
Of course, there will be changes and upside downs, but you have to start from somewhere, right?
And don’t forget: Planning makes it easier to do what you’re supposed to. Even when you don’t feel like it.
Because you don’t have to think so much about it. You’ve already outlined the steps you need to follow. All you have to do is follow them.
And that’s extra motivation for starting right now!
6. Check Your Progress
Well, you made your plan and you followed it. Now what? Did it work?
If it’s the first plan you made, probably not. That’s usually how first plans work. They just don’t.
Now you get feedback and you use it.
You check what went right and what went wrong. You find ways to fix what went wrong, you make a new plan and you follow it.
For example, one of the things I often write about is the day-by-day planning. Did I do it right the first time? Heck, no!
I failed a bunch of times until I realised that a day has 24 hours and I want/need to sleep for – at least – seven of them. I just function better this way. I also need a few breaks throughout a day; once a week, I break down completely and don’t feel like doing anything at all. (Talk about unproductivity on those days!)
So I schedule my work to get the maximum productivity out of my day.
And that’s what you do for every goal you have, every project and every dream. You make a plan, you see how it works, you change what needs to be changed and you follow the new plan. Then, rinse and repeat.
7. Hone Your Writing Skills
As with everything, you get better at writing as you practise. And no matter what, you’re going to need writing skills in your life.
You’ll have to write a report, an essay, a manual, your CV, an article or even a book. So the sooner you get good at it, the better.
And writing every day helps you get better at it. You learn how to express yourself better, how to organise your thoughts and how to put your thoughts into words.
So what are you waiting for?
Writing down what happened throughout the day, what you want to do in the future, your dreams and your plans helps you learn what kind of person you are.
It’s easy to believe something when it’s just in your head, but when it’s written down on paper… Well, sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense.
You can’t say that you’re a truthful person when you lie all day. You can’t say that you’re generous when you don’t give anything to anyone. And you can’t say you’re punctual when you’re always late.
Well, you can say all this. But when it’s time to write them down, the facts just don’t match up.
And then… you have to do a little reflection and check what’s really going on. What you really want to be and see how to get there. What you don’t want to be and try to correct the traits you don’t like.
9. Focus on Yourself
It’s nice to focus on yourself a little every day. It does wonders for your mental – and your overall – health.
After all, don’t lie to yourself, saying you can run all day without taking a break and believing it won’t have a negative impact on your health. It just doesn’t work this way. It’ll catch up with you in the worst possible moment and you’ll collapse.
So every day, find a little time to focus on yourself. And keeping a journal is a great way to achieve this because it requires you to calm down and focus on how you feel.
10. Scripta Manent
And last but not least: Keeping a journal allows you to have your memories written down. No matter how many years pass, you can go back, reread them and think: “Oh my! Was I really like that?”.
You can read them again and remember how you felt at some of the most important moments in your life. Your first class, your first job, your first great success, meeting your best friends, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your husband or wife.
Time makes memories fade. But if you have written them down, nothing can make you lose these memories.
What happened and I stopped keeping a journal as a kid? My mom found it and read that I liked a boy from my class…
Oh my… I remember saying lots of stupid things to cover this up. Like that it wasn’t mine and I was keeping it for a friend?
Obviously, she didn’t believe me… but the shock was big enough to not want to keep a journal anymore.
So if you don’t live alone, make sure to keep your journal in a safe place!
Hopefully, you can see why you should start keeping a journal immediately!
Let me know what you think about keeping a journal and, if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer! Any suggestions are always welcome, so tell me about topics you’d like me to write.
And if you liked this, check out more topics on self improvement.
See you next time!