How to start journaling today to live a productive and mindful life

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how to start journaling

Have you ever felt that your day has just flown away? It was a chaotic mess where you, your feelings, mind, and work were all over the place.

If only you would be able to do all the things you wished to do in a day without forgetting your colleague’s birthday.

Suppose you could have the events, the tasks and the to-do list of groceries all in one place. You wish that just one day you can spend without being chaotic.

One thing after the other, you can check off on your list. At the end of the day, you get a checked-off list and all the tasks you could only dream of completing on a day.

Your emotions, your work and your actions in your control.

Then journaling is going to be your best friend. Keep reading to learn how to start journaling.

What is journaling?

what is journaling

It’s a practice of showing up in front of a blank paper and writing everything on your mind.

So just take a book and a pen, and start writing.

I wish practices such as meditation and journaling would be emphasized more for every individual to practice because it helps us a lot to declutter our mind and live a calmer life. It helps us to become a person who is present in the moment and live life more mindfully while serving our society too.

“Talk to yourself at least once in a Day, otherwise you may miss a meeting with an EXCELLENT person in this World.” – Swami Vivekananda

What is a journal?

what is a journal

Journal is a collection of all the events that happened to you, the tasks you want to accomplish for the day and the events you are looking forward to. It can also be a book recording your essential tasks, a place where you see all the year’s events.

Basically, a journal is anything and everything you want it to be. It can be your best friend, your personal assistant or your calendar.

A place where you vomit your thoughts, an area where you organize your tasks or a landscape where you plan your events.

How to start a journal?

Take a book. Take a pen. Start writing every day after you wake up or before you sleep, whichever works for you.

If writing in a used book gives you a head start, go ahead.

Otherwise, like me use a book dedicatedly used for journaling.

Creating a habit is always hard. Remember to put thought into the value you are working for. 

It takes routine to create a habit. You have to link your habit to something already a practice (something you do very naturally).

For me, documenting how the day was before sleeping worked.

The satisfaction that you get to know that you’ve completed everything that you expected of yourself is very satisfactory and, in the long term, rewarding.

When I open it the next day to note my exercise routine(habit), I see the tasks that I am supposed to do the very day.

There are times when there are so many things going in your head that you just want to throw them out. I have experienced through the small life I have lived the magic a paper can do. The calm you get when you write and the bliss you experience when you read good stuff.

how to start a journal

There are times when we are just upset about something. A form of writing called freewriting suggests writing without thinking.

You write everything that is on your mind. You can go to the roots of the things which are hurting you. When you go back and read the stuff, you can see your mindset, reflect on your actions, and consciously try to change yourself.

It gives you a place where you can be completely honest with yourself without the fear of judgment.

When the new year starts, we all tend to make resolutions, which we cannot reach, and we stop after one day.

The goal for the year 2021 is to have a fit body. 10 push-ups for the day. I can still see fat on my stomach. It’s not working. Where is my burger?

That not how it works, people.

Your long-term goal is to lose weight. Your daily goal should be to eat healthily and exercise something which you enjoy.

It can be Zumba, cycling, yoga or gym sessions. Do something doable. Start small. Increase the time as you go ahead. Keep track of how much you have been exercising.

Even if you didn’t lose any weight, it’s good to see on the page that you are working towards having a healthy body. One good habit you try to form, you’ll start choosing other good habits too—good food for your mind and better people for your soul.

Benefits of journaling

It has been observed in many research projects that journaling helps manage anxiety and stress

Following are the benefits of journaling I experienced over time:

1. Lay my thoughts on paper

As a person who tends to overthink, the noise in mind written words helps me to see the nonsense I have been thinking and consciously give it a stop.

When you are feeling too many things, it helps to say it all to the journal. Whichever form you prefer, write on paper or type on a device or record yourself while talking.

Make sure you take out at least 10 minutes every day to check up on yourself and record how you spent your day.

There are small things that make us happy and the tiniest thing that has been bothering us becomes nothing when looked at with a different perspective.

overthinking, journaling benefits

2. Remind my goals every day

Once I start something, it becomes difficult for me to see its end. Every day when you sit in front of a journal and see that you are not doing what you promised yourself, it will keep ringing in your head, eventually, you do it.

Remind yourself every day.

I want to exercise tomorrow for 30 mins.

3. Keep track of the habits I want to inculcate

A habit tracker is a blessing in disguise. I had been quite an athletic person most of my life. Since I started detaching away from sports, I felt as if I was getting away from a part of myself.

For some, it may be painting, or playing a musical instrument or dance. You know what it is.

It had been my new resolution to exercise every day, even if it’s for 5 mins.

We all know where that story goes.

But since I started tracking my sessions, I could see I had been exercising most of the month. It feels good and the month struck out feels like an accomplishment.

The only trick is to show up every day to your journal.

4. Helps me track emotions

I am walking a path where my focus is to become a calm human being despite the storm around, and it’s a challenging task.

As a very emotional and a tad angry person, writing down how I reacted to stuff, the reason behind it, analyzing it.

To see whether staying quiet would have been better, how could I have changed my perspective to react to the situation in a better way, helps me to understand the roots of my emotions better and walk towards my goal

5. Events are recorded in one place

Long gone are the days when I forget my friend’s birthday or missed that webinar I wanted to attend.

Everything is in one place. I get to see my month, my year, my day and wish the people dear to me, a year older.

journaling, mindfulness

6. See what I have been consuming

I strongly believe what you consume is what you become. This includes the people you keep around you and the media you endlessly consume on the internet.

Hey, I’m not beating myself up for watching Brooklyn 99.

I write it down whenever I complete watching or reading anything.

It helps me keep track of the good stuff I watched and keep myself in check to see I am not spending 2 hrs on Instagram.

I can see that by the number of books I have read (inversely proportional).

7.Discipline

To discipline yourself is to make habits in the direction of the person you want to be.

To show up in front of a blank page to give a testimonial of one day’s work. Analyzing it and noting the progress, distractions, and achievements is a great way to build discipline.

All you need is 15 minutes to check off your daily goals, write how you felt throughout the day, what do you feel grateful for? Write it.

I know it seems like a tedious task to write every day. Some might even find it boring. All I ask is to give the habit 30 days to see how you like it.

If it’s good, continue, or you can try harder to get the distractions away and read atomic habits instead.

Journaling ideas

I want to share with you that you have to write and see what works for you. It is not necessary that you have to color your journal to use it efficiently or use just one pen to increase your productivity.

The only hack is to start, continue and adapt. 

Following are a few journaling ideas I have fused to make something usable and handy for me.

1. Bullet journaling

Also called BuJo is a technique build by Ryder Carrol, a digital product designer and author living in New York City. After being diagnosed with learning disabilities in early life, he took the challenge to be more focused and productive and passionately developed this technique. It is now helping millions of people to get closer to their goals by living a more effective and intentional life.

He describes a simple way to start your journal and has designed a unique bullet journal to learn straight away from his words. There is also an app developed by his organization that helps you journal digitally. 

There is no better way than to learn straight from the master of the technique. So here’s a link to his channel for you to understand better.

2. Daily journal app

Journey is a great daily journal app to start with. It gives a passcode to enter, and it’s an app I have used because of my friend’s recommendations past 5 years now.

You can go to the app store and try other apps and see what works for you. I wanted something with a simple design.

It helps me write things that I don’t want anyone to read—my darkest fears and worries.

For a person who worries someone might read their words, this is a great place to start.

3. Daily journal template

What first resisted me from starting a journal is that I thought I had to follow a template. The only thing is that it does not have to be pretty as the ones on social media. It can be simple and should do its work.

Every day when I write my thoughts on a piece of paper gives me peace of mind. But writing on any book wasn’t giving me satisfaction. So I bought dotted journals and started noting simple daily stuff in them.

Did I exercise, what are the things I’m looking forward to this month, which movie and drama I watched, which book did I complete reading, which songs have been on my mind lately? What was my mood like during the day? What tasks did I do out of my must-do things?

These things helped me see whether I am doing the important stuff and how much time I am wasting on something that won’t be beneficial to me in the long term.

My daily journal template is elementary. 

  • A month on one page
  • One page for things I’ve watched
  • And then I start writing each day as it comes.

Did I accomplish my daily goal? 

What was my mood? 

What new did I learn? 

What I am grateful for?

4. Gratitude journaling

Be grateful,gratitude journaling

Gratitude is one of the many great ways to look at our situation from a larger perspective. With all the things that might not go your way, “the wrong way”, gratitude helps us see few things that go right. 

I suggest writing at least 3 things every day and why you think you are grateful for them.

5. Art journaling

journaling ideas

For people who have loved drawing and have stopped, this is a great way to start again.

If you want to rekindle your passion for drawing, one drawing, one sketch or one painting a day in a book with pages made for that art.

It also helps you see your growth over time—more than anything, it gives you peace every day.

daily journaling

On the last day of the year I like to write a summary of how the year went. 

It feels really good to look back at all the things that used to bother you and how you have grown through all of that, and it bothers you less or no more.

journal edited scaled

So take a book and a pen. Take 5 minutes out of the day for yourself. Write.

It allows you to reflect on your actions, track your reactions, be more aware of yourself and work on becoming a better human being. 

And if you have checked off a month exercising for most of the days,

Let’s gift ourselves a delicious pizza now, shall we?

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Go down in the comments and let others know what your thoughts on journaling are and what are other techniques work for you.

Know you are loved.

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