Do you want to start a journaling practice or reenergize your current practice? If so, you are in the right place. I love journaling, and find that I start, stop and change my practice often (and there is nothing wrong with that)!
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Why Start a Journaling Practice?
There are so many reasons to journal. Understanding what you want to get out of the practice will help you figure out what types of journaling to try. Some of the main reasons to journal:
time management, to-do lists, setting priorities
brainstorming, mind mapping, planning
habit change (food journal, etc)
work through emotions
improve memory of events
tune into your creativity
record your history for others
Paper vs Electronic
I love a good paper journal, but the perfectionist in me makes it difficult. Sometimes I don't actually want to write in the pretty journal because I don't want to mess them up. If this sounds familiar, I have 3 possible suggestions.
Just give yourself permission to be messy. A journal will never be pristine and perfect. Embrace the messiness.
Start with a cheap journal, so if you mess it up or change your mind about how you want to journal, you can toss it and start again. You can get a cheap journal at a store like Dollar General for a couple of bucks.
Go digital. Simply open a Word document and start typing. Or, depending on your purpose, sometimes even a spreadsheet works well as a journal (eg. a reading journal).
Bonus suggestion - you can also use loose paper and then add pages to a binder.
Specific Types of Journals
In no particular order, I'm just going to share with you some journal types. You can also combine types together into one journal. There are no rules, do what feels right to you.
Bullet Journal - this is meant to be a time/life management tool, but can also be a very creative outlet. You can find many great inspirational videos and templates on YouTube and Pinterest. Check out the original concept HERE. You can buy the book HERE. (don't let all the inspiration on Pinterest overwhelm you, if this concept intrigues you, start simple)
Gratitude Journal - whether it's first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, take a few moments to write about 1-3 things you are grateful for. It can be anything. Sometimes the more basic or obscure, the better. You can make a simple list, but I also encourage you to write about the why.
Mind-Dump - before bed, simply write out anything that is on your mind and might keep you awake. This could be a to-do list for tomorrow, your worries, a recap of the argument you had with your spouse or a nagging regret from a year ago. Get it out of your head so you can relax and sleep.
Specific Project Journal - if you have a project you are planning and executing, you can dedicate a single journal to this. It will likely be a combination of brainstorming, mind mapping, to-do lists, calendars, etc.
Reading Journal - track and analyze your favorite books. This could be a physical journal or a spreadsheet.
Dear Diary - keep track of the special event in your life.
Stream of Consciousness - simply open your journal every day and write about whatever comes to mind. This might be gratitude one day, and a to-do list the next. Use the tool to simply work through your thoughts and emotions.
Creative Journal - this might be sketching or designing for the artistic folks. For others, this might be using journal prompts. Also see Reflective Prompts Journal below.
Habit Change Journal - here you might include a food diary, track your exercise and water, and then track your feelings. This works for other habits too. I invite you to start by writing about why you are making the changes. Writing about your 'why' helps you stick with your changes!
Reflective Prompts Journal - Use a daily or weekly journal prompt to inspire you with a topic to write about. If you follow my Holistic Wellness with Tracy Facebook page, you will find that I am now posting a weekly journal prompt every Sunday.
How to Start Journaling
You decided you want to journal, but now what?
consider why you want to journal, then...
decide what type of journal you want to start with (you can change it up later, or combine several together).
decide paper or electronic.
consider when you want to journal. Put a few minutes on your schedule. Habit stack it with morning coffee, eating lunch, or evening prep for bed.
either pick up a journal or open a word processing program.
As a recovering perfectionist, I urge you to just get started. Pick up a cheap journal and start. If you have a really nice journal, go ahead and use that if you want. Don't be afraid of cross-outs or messy writing. Be perfectly imperfect.