My first journal dates back to age 10 when I recorded my thoughts on our family trip to PEI. As an extrovert and external processor, I’ve found that writing out my thoughts acts in a similar way to talking things out. Sometimes things are important or personal enough that I don’t want to share them with others until I understand them better.
Time Management Ninja has a list of 5 ways journaling helps you be more productive:
- Gather Your Thoughts. Journaling is a great exercise that lets you write down your thoughts. It doesn’t matter whether you write down things you have done, things you want to remember, or things you want to do. Your journal can be a place to simply collect your thoughts.
- Hold Yourself Accountable. When you write down your goals, you are much more likely to accomplish them. Seeing your dreams in writing can be powerful, and seeing your goals in text can be daunting. When I look at my journal, it motivates and drives me forward.
- Capture Ideas. Journaling can be a powerful experience in “emptying your head.” The ideas just start coming. I often find myself adding things to my to-do list while journaling. Tasks that are important yet intangible in day-to-day life are spotlighted when I write them down.
- Hear Your Inner Voice. Writing in a journal is like having a conversation with your inner self. You get in the zone, and your inner thoughts just start flowing. Sometimes you don’t even know what had been on your mind until you write it down.
- Ponder What’s Most Important. Journaling lets you confront what is most important to you. Internally, we know what is important. But, sometimes it takes putting it down in our journal to make our priorities clear and apparent.
Michael Hyatt writes a list of 7 benefits he has found in keeping a journal:
- Process previous events. What happens to me is not as important as the meaning I assign to what happens to me. Journaling helps me sort through my experience and be intentional about my interpretation.
- Clarify my thinking. Writing in general helps me disentangle my thoughts. Journaling takes it to a new level. Because I am not performing in front of a “live audience,” so to speak, I can really wrestle through the issues.
- Understand the context. Life is often happening so quickly I usually have little time to stop and reflect on where I am in the Bigger Story. Journaling helps me to discern the difference between the forest and the trees.
- Notice my feelings. I understand feelings aren’t everything, but they also aren’t nothing. The older I get, the more I try to pay attention to them. They are often an early indicator of something brewing.
- Connect with my heart. I’m not sure I can really explain this one, but journaling has helped me monitor the condition of my heart. Solomon said “above all else” we are to guard it (see Proverbs 4:23). It’s hard to do that when you lose touch with it.
- Record significant lessons. I’m a better student when I am taking notes. Writing things down leads to even deeper understanding and, I hope, wisdom. I want to write down what I learn, so I don’t have to re-learn it later.
- Ask important questions. A journal is not merely a repository for the lessons I am learning but also the questions I’m asking. If there’s one thing I have discovered, it’s the quality of my questions determine the quality of my answers.
What do you think of these lists? Do you journal? What kinds of things do you write down?