2020-07-03

Journaling

I have been keeping a daily journal for a number of years. I think it can be a great tool for making your life go better. In this post, I suggest some pointers on how best to journal. These are things that have worked for me. Your mileage may vary!

Purpose

For referencing and reminiscing

  • Minimise the boring facts. Ignore times, meal descriptions, etc. Use bullet points and cut the connectives. Some lists and minutiae can be worthwhile writing: who did you meet? what ideas are you thinking about? what interesting conversations did you have?
  • Much of what you write can be redundant: are you repeating what is already implicitly told by your calendar, photos, social media, and location history? Can you solve this need to reminiscence by taking more photos and videos?

For emotional processing

  • Are you writing to remember how you felt or, in the case of bad feelings, trying to work through them? If the latter I recommend Focusing. It is easy to convince yourself that writing about bad feelings will make them go away or solve the underlying issues.
  • The purpose of writing the journal should be to make your life go better. Indulging in bad thoughts in your journal may make you unhappier. Conversely, gratitude journaling actually makes people happier. You should do it.

As a keystone habit


A keystone habit is a single successful habit that disrupts the status quo and makes other changes possible. If you are not keeping track of how things are going, how do you know that you are improving? Completing a daily check-in allows you to get some distance from whatever you’ve been caught up with in the day, and sometimes break a big slump.

Write down the good decisions you made
  • Every day there is something you have done to be proud of, even on your worst days.
  • What went surprisingly well today, and what did you do to make it happen?

Write down the slips in your behaviour

Every week, review your entries and distill your answers to these questions into a shortlist of your greatest bottlenecks. Now identified, you must begin to work on them, a topic I’ll leave to another post. In the meantime, I’d highly recommend Hammertime.


A template for a daily journal:


The most memorable things that happened today
1.
2.
3.

The best decisions I made today
1.
2.
3.

The worst decisions I made today
1.
2.
3.

The things I am most grateful for today
1.
2.
3.
5 Tristan Cook: Journaling I have been keeping a daily journal for a number of years. I think it can be a great tool for making your life go better. In this post, I su...
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