Journaling is a discipline that I’ve only come to in the past two years but it’s one that I find remarkably powerful- both for the immediate benefits, but also the downstream effects. Many people raise a curious eyebrow when I get all excited about how much value it has added to my life. So I thought it would make a useful post to write about why I start every day with 10-20 minutes of journaling.
I began journaling as part of a wider discipline of mindfulness and meditation. In short, the act of writing is one of being present without distraction with side issues. It’s a place I can be completely focussed on the ‘now’ and avoid the distraction of the past or future.
In the past I have been notoriously good at starting things with great excitement and passion but not always so good at finishing them. So I now build some activities that help me grow the discipline needed to execute plans (completer/finisher) into my life. The simple act of journaling daily is one such discipline and it feels great to get it done.
Tune out the 'noise'
In an world awash with "fake news”posts, "post truth" sound bites and unqualified opinion, it pays to be someone who thinks before they type, speak or publish. Journalling is an excellent way to ignore the ‘noise’ and get your brain in gear and thinking.
Leading right on the above point of not being provoked into knee-jerk reactions, is the experience that as you write, you come to know yourself better and come to learn how to let moments pass rather than taking poorly thought out actions. In doing so you can become a more resilient and better leader.
Get to know yourself
And this is the gift that keeps on giving, because as you review back through your entries you can start to pick out patterns - the thoughts or activities you are clearly drawn to or, by the same token, repulsed by. In effect, you begin to chart your mind and in doing so gain a deeper understanding of yourself. This ability is the cornerstone of becoming a self aware, human being.
Writing a daily journal is also an awesome source of creative thinking and idea generation. And the best thing about writing, over thinking alone, is that you are capturing your ideas before they fade into the vapour of your subconscious mind again. All ideas are just dreams until they move out of your head into the physical world. So journaling has a very important role to play in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Finally, a benefit I didn’t see coming at all was just how good a platform journaling is for providing content for all of my writing projects - many of my blog posts, this one included, start life as a journal entry.
How do you start a journal?
The good news is that it’s easy. In it’s most simplistic form, if you can hold a pen and find some paper then you can journal. Just start writing and see where it takes you. Try not to make it happen just write about whatever is on your mind in that moment.
I, personally, prefer to write on my computer (my doctor hieroglyphic would make my notes impossible to review in future). And I adore the Evernote App for this and many other purposes.
I used to carry a big red note book, now I use Evernote. Basically, it’s the same thing on steroids. You can type, scribble, add photos or audio files from any device with the app installed. It works great and synchs smoothly across all devices.
My personal favourite feature of all is ability to sort your entries into mini notebooks and also tag individual notes within those books. Which makes retrieval of your notes on any subject especially easy.
So there you go, my thoughts on journaling, straight from my journal. The end.
And if you’d like to try Evernote out then check them out here. They have a free option to get started.