People think very little about the act and practice of journaling because it is what little kids do and what adults doodle out during boring meetings. I’ve got news for you! Journaling help keep your thoughts together, improve your writing skills, help you set and achieve goals, record ideas, relieve stress and allow for deep, insightful self-reflection.
Journaling, previously simply referred to as either ‘mindlessly doodling in your notebook or textbook in the middle of a class’ or ‘writing and bitching about your day in your diary’ has taken on a new modern name and look.
It takes time and effort and most of us busy folks don’t have the time of the day to sit down for even one single minute to read a page off of that one-year-old book we’ve been trying to finish, much less trying to put together a journal that requires so much determination-filled discipline.
Journaling helps you navigate through the clangorous world we live in. So, in the end, we might not only need motivation, we need a system.
And committing ourselves to keep a journal could be a part of that sanity-preservation system.
Why Journaling is Important to Efficiency and Peace of Mind
Some people might question the need for journaling by asking ‘Why would this be important when we have reality to face, which is far more important than writing down unimportant little emotions, experiences, and thoughts in a notebook nobody (except ourselves) could care about?’
While the question is relevant in the fast-paced society that we live in today, the habit of journaling is a way to encourage self-awareness, self-growth, and to keep staid of your daily activities and priorities.
All we need to do is to be disciplined about it and push on even when we don’t have the time. Make time and be realistic about it. Pick out a place and time that you know you can commit to and put thoughts and emotions down that provide clarity to how you arrived at this precipice in your life.
Contrary to popular beliefs, journaling is not just about bitching about your co-worker, writing down nasty thoughts about your car journey from work, or how your friend said an insensitive thing during a gathering.
It’s about jotting down what you love most about what happened throughout the day, what you’re grateful for, things you want to remember and remind yourself of, what you want to work on tomorrow, and if you have goals, set new ones, for example, to stay healthy or recycle more often.
If you need another reason to start journaling, take it from psychologists who have studied human sleep patterns – journaling and the action of putting your thoughts together on paper helps you sleep better. Because why? Worries, anxiety, and stress keeps you awake.
It can take like 5 minutes every night so, why not? Really.
In the study of 57 young adults, researchers from Baylor University and Emory University found that writing to-do lists, rather than writing about completed tasks, helped people fall asleep an average of nine minutes faster — in about 16 minutes versus 25– Lydia Denworth, Brain Waves, PsychologyToday.com
The Benefits of Journaling Survives the Attack of Tech
So much has been said about doing the ‘right things’ in the morning, before you start the day, which ranges from going for a run to having a good cup of coffee, that doing the right thing before calling it a day is relegated to nothing more than ‘switch your smartphone of laptop off 1 hour before bedtime’.
Doing something as simple as putting your thoughts down, not just before bedtime but throughout the day, with a pen on plain ole paper, let us unload the burdens of the day, celebrate our successes, clear our minds and take note of things we want to embark on the next day.
People don’t do it because it sounds tedious. The reality of it is it can take less than 5 minutes!
Although I am still a long-form journaling person, there are benefits to bullet journaling. In fact, a young colleague of mine has shared her really, irresistibly cute icon-sticker-drawing-scribble-filled notebook/journal with me and it was intriguing!
According to some, there’s a system, if not science, behind the concept of bullet journaling.
I am sure there’s an app out there for bullet journaling but this video’s got nearly 2.5 million views thus far and it’s from BulletJournal.com. If you’re interested, go on and click on the video. It will take all but 3 minutes of your time.
This analog bullet journaling system essentially teaches you how to organize your time and priorities better…manually. Despite the barrage of apps out there, there is a personal touch to this system that is getting the nod from me.
I guess a part of the appeal is having absolute control over what tasks you have to migrate over to the next month when you’re done with one.
AND…it feels more personal, a sense of ownership.
Visual Art Journaling
Another type of journaling has also blown my brains out of my head and it’s watercolor or visual art journaling. As mentioned, I’ve seen my colleague’s cute sticker, doodle, scribble-filled notebook/journal and was intrigued but if you’re willing to take things a few universes further, there’s watercolor journaling.
Needless to say, this method of journaling is perfect for those who are not so much into words but more into creating general wrap ups of their days, weeks or months visually. You can read more about how this process came about and how to devise your own watercolor journal right here in this article.
It made me wish I was better at drawing. At the end of the day, however sadly it is to acknowledge, I am more of a words person.
“One question that I get asked again and again is, “How do I find time to be creative every day?” The answer is simple – you don’t find time, you make time”– LittleCoffeeFox.com
To-Do List Before Bedtime
It might seem a little boring and counterintuitive to put together a checklist or to-do list right before bedtime but studies reveal that writing your to-do list eases your mind into slumber faster. Don’t take it from me, take it from the Internet Doctor, WebMD, at the link above.
I prefer to personalize my own to-do list and use various apps for different reasons. The apps I use are:
These apps keep me on my toes and I check them once in the morning, during lunch, and in the evening before I get off work. I don’t really do it before bedtime and maybe I should.
There are many others out there so, take your time to download, give them a test run to see how they work for you personally. If you find one that keeps you from sinking into a sinkhole of muddled thoughts every night, keep using it.
Examples of best to-do apps out there in 2020:
- Asana which I am currently using for work. I am still navigating my way around this app
- Any.do (for iPhone)
- Remember the Milk
And just for your info, ToDoist has a printable list of to-do list templates you can download right off the bat and start using.
At the end of the day, the purpose of working on a to-do list to help eliminate the fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is the basis of many other types of fears in human beings and it freaks us out. So, this is simply one of the most effective ways to get it out of our system before it wrecks our sleep cycle.
If you want to read more about that (it gets really scientific, let me offer you a friendly warning about the following link), read this article about Fear of the unknown: One fear to rule them all?
Sketch journaling a simplified method of creative visual journaling. There are many ways you can do this and it is insane! I honestly wish I had the creative muscle for this but I don’t. Nevertheless, it’s inspiring to look at and explore all the same.
The idea is to use whatever medium you prefer to create the journal, to document your thoughts, dreams, experiences, ideas, and comments. You can draw smaller pictures, add stickers, use watercolor, pencil or pen, or simply transcribe your thoughts into wordings to describe your feelings instead of drawing/sketching everything out.
Other Types of Specific Journals
Our days, if you’re like me, are often jam-packed with a million and one things going on at the speed of light all at the same time. If we don’t end the day on a peaceful note, we might begin the next day typically chaotic.
Oprah begins her day with a quick ‘Thank You’ to herself and the Universe every morning, others meditate (I can’t do this as of yet because, being the night owl that I am, chances are, I am back to my 5-minutes more habit and wake up 2 hours later), and others begin with a 2-block run around the park.
One of the things that keep us stuck in the rut is the fear and anxiety of what’s ahead of us and the repercussions of what we have done the day before. This unhealthy thought-looping can only do more harm than good so, I personally think eradicating them at the end of the day and setting some things straight clears the mind.
These are some of the other types of journals people keep that are axiomatic to self-growth.
They document memorable moments throughout our day/week/month/year, address issues so that they can move forward with their projects, work or life, and remind them of what their goals are.
- Dream journal
- Food journal (Instagram, anyone? =))
- Travel journal (once again, Insta, anyone else?)
- Prayer journal
- Reading journal (I should start this one)
- Gratitude journal (I use a gratitude jar, instead. Whatever floats my boat, they say)
- Project journal
- Garden journal
- Pocket journal (as reminders)
- Workout journal
- Pregnancy journal
- Parenting (it’s a tough journal, y’all) journal
- Idea journal
- Poetry journal
- Music journal (lyrics and songs you discovered along the way)
“A good shock often helps the brain that has been atrophied by habit.”– Napoleon Hill
Well, maybe a good shock is a little far-fetched but there is really no right or wrong way to document your emotions, thoughts, ideas, and experiences. It’s a coin toss. I am sure there are many more out there, but here are 17 different types of journaling (and their benefits/purposes) to learn more about.
If you want to become someone different, work on something meaningful, achieve your goals, and yet, are anxious about what’s ahead of you, the journaling helps you put the small-change sense of order to the things happening around you.
It also helps you stay committed to something that helps you improve yourself.
Here’s to your continued growth towards becoming a better you!
Lotsa of love fluff coming your way,
Close your eyes and image,
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