The usefulness of journaling is uncontested. It clarifies our thinking and improves our decision making. It helps us notice our feelings and connect with our inner life. It captures the questions we’re mulling over. It grounds us in where we are, who we are, and where we’re headed.
But most people don’t journal. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them. So, let’s make building a journaling habit easier with a few tips.
Tip 1: Choose Unforgettable Cues
Every habit (intentional or unintentional) has what’s called an activation trigger: a cue that prompts you to action. And you can create one on purpose.
One of the easiest cues for journaling is your journal itself. Put it in a place where it’s hard to miss. In front of the coffee maker, so you pick it up while the coffee brews. On the counter, so you see it when you go to make breakfast. Or on top of your laptop, so you can’t miss it before starting work.
You could also tie it to another activity. What’s something you already do every day without fail? Could you journal on your freshly made bed? In the parking lot of your workplace after pulling in? Right after doing the dishes from dinner? Just before you turn out the light?
If you don’t want to forget, make it unforgettable.
Tip 2: Leverage What You Love
Because you’re human, you have cravings. Your cup of morning coffee. Your favorite TV show. Your walk around the block. Settling down with a novel before bed. Tinkering in your garage. Catching up on the news. What do you look forward to each day? Bundle your journaling habit with that activity.
It also helps to have tools you enjoy. Spending less on tools you won’t use isn’t a good investment. If it makes journaling more enjoyable, spend a little more on those fancy pens, high-end pencils, or that handbound leather journal. Choose the tools you want to use.
Tip 3: Aim for Easy
If a blank page is intimidating, buy a journal with prompts (like our Full Focus Journal).
If you just don’t want to journal, track what you find your mind returning to during the day—ideas, quotes, concerns, conversations. Return to this list when it’s time to journal. Free yourself from what you think journaling “should” be. Make your journaling serve you.
And set a timer. Don’t start with half an hour. Don’t even start with ten minutes. Start with three. You can spare three minutes a day. And you can do anything for three minutes, right?
If journaling seems hard, find a way to make it easy. Eliminate the intimidation.
Tip 4: Track Your Streak
Streaks are satisfying. So track it. Put a “checkmark” by the date on your calendar. Find an app that will track it virtually. And, of course, there’s always the streaktracker in the Full Focus Planner.
Tracking your streak will give you a boost while you wait until you start seeing the benefits of your habit. Then, journaling will become its own reward.
Make today the day you started journaling. Choose your next step and go for it.
P.S. For more on habits, check out No Fail Habits.
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