Many of us set out to begin a journal with good intentions – with a fresh notebook and headful of ideas. But all too often, after a week or so of good practice, we become distracted and our daily journaling falls behind. Good habits take some time to develop, but by starting slowly, being patient and not expecting great things from the beginning of a new hobby or practice, you’re more likely to stick to it.
The benefits of journaling are many. Putting your thoughts to paper (or computer) can help you to notice the patterns of your moods, become more aware of your actions, relieve you of stressful and negative thoughts, and help you to spot things that may be lacking (or too abundant) in your day – such as exercise. Years from now, you’ll also enjoy the time capsule of brainpickings you’ve collated. But how do you stay motivated to make it happen?
Try these tips to help you keep on track:
- Choose a time that works for you
Just as with meditation or physical exercise, it’s essential you pick a time of the day where you have the energy to think. Many people prefer to journal of an evening, a chance to unwind before sleeping. But, if your thoughts are centred mostly on hitting the hay at that time, consider journaling at lunchtime or in the early hours instead.
- Keep your diary entries honest
A journal is a lot like a food diary – exaggerating or devaluing your actions and thoughts defeats the purpose of the practice. Try not to allow your thoughts to be inhibited. Remember, it’s a personal project just for you and no one else needs to read it.
- Choose a medium you’re comfortable with
Some people prefer to use electronic drives or notes to access their journals wherever they go, while others need time away from the screens. Choose the medium you’re likely to stick with and get writing.
- Keep it simple
Very few of us have endless hours to devote to writing each day, so it’s okay to keep things simple. If you prefer dot points, use them. If you enjoy writing, flourish. Either way, make sure you’re notes are legible and have some context for reading at a later date. Most importantly, note the date of your diary entry.
- Accept days off
You know what? You’re going to miss days and forget to journal on weekends. You know what else? That’s completely fine. Just pick up where you left off and don’t allow a couple of skipped pages here and there to end your journaling days. You’re your own worst critic; so don’t be too harsh on yourself. The point of a journal is to document your thoughts and memories; and if you’re spending too many of your days and precious time writing these down, you’re likely to be compromising the time you could spend doing something else. Find a balance and take it easy on your mind.