How to Make Journaling Part of Your Daily Routine
Here's an excerpt from my latest e-book Write to Flourish: A Beginner's Guide to Journaling. I hope you find it useful. Grab your copy here!
Lesson 1. How to Make Journaling Part of Your Daily Routine
Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learning promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context.
—Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Since I started my small business in January 2010, I’ve learned powerful lessons about self-care and time management. One of my biggest takeaways from self-employment is this: I have to make time to journal daily because the practice is essential to my wellbeing. If I don't journal, I feel aimless, off-center, grumpy, and a general sense of malaise creeps into my mind and body.
So, no matter where I am in the world, I wake up early—between 5 and 6am—and make a cup of coffee. Once my coffee is ready, I pour a heaping amount of half-and-half into my mug. Then I grab my journal, planner, pencil case, and find a comfortable place to sit. For the next 30 minutes, I write and draw in my journals.
One strategy has kept me honest and on track with numerous habits, including journaling. When I feel like I’m too busy to journal, I track my time for one week. I do so by recording my activities in my digital or paper-based calendar. Then at the close of the week, I review all of my activities, and I ask myself a few questions:
What activities am I using to procrastinate? And, how much time am I spending on those activities?
What habits can I modify or edit out of my daily life?
What do I truly want to do with my extra time?
After examining how I spend my time, I make behavior changes that give me space to journal more often.
For example, here are a few actions I’ve taken in the past:
Get out of bed 30 minutes earlier to journal
Journal before bed
Set aside time to journal on my lunch break
Spend less time reading online and journal instead
Making writing part of your daily routine doesn’t have to be complex; all you have to do is make the time to write. As Mother Teresa said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Your assignment …
Write about how you spend your time during the day. As you write, think about quiet moments during your day. Do the quiet moments happen in the morning, in the evening, at lunch, or in the in-between moments (like at the playground while you watch your kids play, on coffee breaks, or while you wait for the oil to get changed in your car)?
The moments you identify are the times you can dedicate to your journaling practice. If you’re having trouble identifying time slots for journaling, track your time using your digital calendar or planner. You might have to cut back on another activity, but it is possible to find time to write.
Once you’ve identified a block of time to journal, make a commitment to journal every day during that period. Sharing your goal with an accountability buddy is a wonderful way to gain support and to stick with your writing practice.
If you’ve never journaled before and feel nervous about writing for 20 or 30 minutes—or longer—write for 5 minutes every morning. For example, my friend Courtney Carver wrote a beautiful essay—"Simplify Your Life by Writing It Down.”
In the essay she said:
“ … You don’t need a theme and you never have to show your words to anyone. Just write. Julia Cameron suggests writing 3 pages every morning in The Artist’s Way, but I like to start small especially if you are establishing a new habit of writing daily. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write. Once that feels comfortable, add a little time. You might write down what you have to do for the day or about your dreams from the night before. Maybe you write about something that made you smile or cry. You might even ask a few questions that you want to think about."