You know those people who have a diary and write in it every day? I wasn’t one of them. First, I did not see the benefit of recording my day in a journal that I would never read again. So I never tried. But that has changed…
Structure and timing
Reading a lot of books and articles and listening to podcasts, I learned many successful people keep a journal. This triggered me to at least try it for a while. I started with journaling about 6 months ago. The first time I tried it, I failed to make this a routine and saw no benefit from it. What I did was free format journaling: I just recorded what I did on a given day. It gave me some fulfillment, as it was nice to relive some of the events of the day and also helped me process stressful situations. But I couldn’t keep this up. I kept forgetting about it, or putting it off. I used no structure or format to help me think about the relevant things I wanted to jot down. I firmly believe that having a structure and having constraints helps with getting more creative and efficient. Another reason was I had not included journaling in my daily routines; I did not assign a specific moment to do this. Using a structure and a specific time has the advantage that you don’t have to spend your mental energy on the menial stuff like when and how to journal.
Then one day I stumbled upon a quick journaling routine: 5 minute journaling. I take 5 minutes in the morning, right after making a plan for the day, to register: 3 things I am grateful for, 3 things that will make my day perfect, and 1 affirmation. This helps me starting the day reflecting on what makes my life great and gets me in a positive mood. Then, at the end of the day, before I go to bed I write about 3 great things that happened during the day and one thing I could improve. This takes me another few minutes. Agile minded people will recognize that this is a sort of mini retrospective. I use a little, free Android app that uses this quick format: Minute Journal.
This journaling format works very well for me: it a minimal investment of time and I can schedule it very well. There is one other format I sometimes use — morning pages — and I will cover that in another post. Hope this was valuable to you.
Published first on martijnvanasseldonk.com