Keeping a perfect journal is having one that helps you get the results you want. Anyone can learn how to keep a journal to get the results you want in about 20 minutes.
It’s a priceless skill because of the magical impact a journal can have on your life.
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- Have one clear purpose.
- Decide how and where to keep your journal.
- Use this secret for perfect self-improvement.
- Choose the ideal journal style for your goal.
- Choose the right technique.
- Guarantee you will stay motivated and interested in your journal.
Have one clear purpose for your journal.
Your purpose will be what you want to get from your journal. I keep a diet and exercise journal because I want to maintain a healthy weight and stay fit. This purpose is compelling for me because I believe poor health ruins everything else.
Your journal time will be fruitful if you have a compelling purpose. When you have a great goal, you’ll soon have a habit of thinking about it throughout the day. Then it’s easier to write in your journal.
There are many reasons to keep a journal. Do it to eliminate negative thinking and be more optimistic. Create a happier mindset with a gratitude journal.
You don’t have to always keep the same purpose for your journal. Once you are satisfied that you have achieved your goal, go for another one.
If you change, start your new regimen in natural beginning periods like the first day of the week, month, or year.
Before you move on, choose an inspiring purpose for your journal.
- Change a habit
- Get motivated
- Stop negative thinking
- Overcome limiting beliefs
- Be more optimistic
- Diet and exercise
- Feel more grateful and happy
- (Your purpose:_________________)
Now you have a purpose for your journal. Your next step is to decide how and where you will keep your journal.
Decide how and where to keep your journal.
Use the information below to decide between a digital or paper journal method. There are many ways to keep a journal with computers and other devices. There are also many paper journals and you can use a plain notebook.
Then choose a regular place to be when you do your journal.
HOW: Digital and Paper Journals
It’s convenient to use an electronic application that synchronizes across your electronic devices. There are many journal digital applications for computers, tablets, and smartphones. Plus, there’s the old-school pen and paper way.
Your best bet is to choose the method that is most comfortable for you. If you’re always on your tablet or smartphone, use that.
When I journal online, I use a google doc and keep it on google drive. It’s free, and I can add pictures or links. It also synchronizes for me on any computer anywhere because it’s stored on the cloud. All you need is a Gmail account, and you get 15 gigabytes of storage free.
Digital and Paper Journal Comparison
It depends on your preference and what will help you to keep your habit alive. If you’re a techie and always on your devices, you probably prefer a digital journal.3
|Synchronized Across Devices||Carry around.|
|Access Images and posts across devices.||N/A|
|Built in Reminder Features.||Separate Reminder.|
|Electronic Search of Journal History.||N/A|
|Interact With Online Support Groups.||N/A|
|Easily Secure Information With a Password.||Hard to Secure.|
|N/A||Handwriting Has More Emotional Impact.|
But, you should consider paper and a pen because it creates a different perspective. It also has a more potent effect on people when they write things down rather than typing.
Writing things down is more impactful.
There is an essential consideration in choosing how to keep your journal. The evidence shows that writing things down instead of typing is more beneficial. Research suggests that it makes you happier. So if your journal is for being more optimistic or grateful, I recommend writing your diary by hand.
WHERE: Choose a place to be when you do your journal.
It’s best to choose a place to write in your journal where you won’t be disturbed. Develop a habit by connecting doing your journal with another activity, for example, having a cup of coffee in the morning. Instead of whatever else you do when you drink your coffee, take 5 minutes to write in your journal.
Use this secret for perfect self-improvement.
The best way to use journaling for self-improvement is to ask yourself every day, “What went well, and what could be better?” Then write down your answer. Keep this question directed at one goal at a time. Once you’re satisfied with your progress on that target, move to a new one. Also, review your entries once a week and choose what to work on for self-improvement the next week.
Ben Franklin used a journal to keep track of the virtues he wanted to have. He would check his progress towards achieving the virtues. He only focused on one attribute at a time.
You can copy Franklin by choosing goals and then tracking yours in a journal. Like Franklin, stick with one at a time until you reach it. Then move to the next one. You can break big goals into smaller steps and assess yourself on those smaller chunks.
Choose the ideal journal for your goal.
A personal journal to record your thoughts and feelings about your day: this journal is the primary “Dear Diary” type most people have seen. It’s called reflective writing.
A gratitude journal to record the things you’re grateful for each day. This one is to help you feel grateful, which makes you feel happier.
Therapy journals help you work through an issue or support your recovery. This journal works best for self-improvement goals, like changing your habits and thinking.
A travel journal to document the places you go, what you do on your trips, and your impressions of the sites you visit.
An art journal includes images and text—draw, paint, and collage inside your journal.
A Diet and Exercise Journal to document meals, calories, and exercise. I have been keeping an electronic diet and exercise journal for 15 years. I document everything I eat and keep a record of my workouts.
Bullet Journal is to keep tasks, notes, and events all in one journal. There is even a book about it. It’s a complicated method of planning and tracking everything all the time.
Choose the right technique.
Freewriting is the most straightforward technique. Set a timer for at least five minutes up to twenty minutes, and go. Write the first thing that comes into your head and continue a stream of consciousness. Describe your surroundings or write complete garbage. It doesn’t matter what, so long as you keep your pen on the page until the time is up.
The morning pages technique is the same as freewriting except instead of a timer. You will write until you fill three pages.
List on lists is making a list. You can make a list of things that make you happy or things you want to do. You can write down things that please you or annoy you. The subject of the record isn’t essential, as long as it inspires you to write words down.
The art technique is for artistic people or ones who like drawing or doodling. Make images about whatever you want. Use pictures instead of words to express feelings or desires.
An unsent letter is written to work some feelings out. Compose a message that you’ll never send. It can be to anyone real or imaginary. Writing a letter helps you process harsh feelings, plus it can be easier to write when you have someone in mind.
Dialoguing is writing a conversation in your journal in which you play both sides. It could be with your past or future self. You can make it between two fictional characters or between two parts of your body. Anything goes, as long as you’re writing a conversation between two characters.
Dream journaling is writing what you recall of your dreams. You keep a journal by your bed and jot down the essential memories of your dream as soon as you wake up. Keep a dream journal long enough, and you’ll find it becomes easier to recall your dreams.
Perspectives Journaling: There are several ways to write from perspectives. You can pick one situation and write about it from three different angles. Or you can try looking at the same circumstance from the past, the present, and the future. What would the past you think about this situation? What would you be thinking in the future? Different perspectives can give you more clarity and help you make better decisions.
Essence journaling is jotting down quick ideas that you can expand on later. You write down one word or one sentence to summarize your thought. The bullet is a great way to begin journaling to establish a habit because it’s quick and easy.
How to guarantee you will stay motivated and interested in your journal.
I have several techniques you can use to stay motivated. The first is to list the benefits of your journal.
- Keeping a journal is a foundational habit that has beautiful side effects. It sparks a chain reaction creating improvements in other parts of your life. So keeping your journal will improve your living in unexpected and pleasant ways.
- Other benefits of keeping a journal include: relieving stress, improving memory, increasing EQ and IQ, lifting your mood, and enhancing your sense of well-being.
- Answer the question of why you want to keep a journal and what benefit you expect.
Tricks to Keep You Going
Next, I have some tricks to make things quick and smooth until you establish a habit.
- Start Extremely Small: When you first start, try essence journaling and commit to at least one entry every day. You can write as much as you want, but you only have to write one bullet entry. Just be sure you have a specific goal for your journal, and the bullet is related to that goal.
- The 3-minute Trick: Commit to at least 3 minutes to write in your journal inline with your objectives. If you want to write more, it’s okay, but you don’t have to.
If you have started with a single sentence, graduate to a paragraph after it is a habit. If you began with 3 minutes, move up to 5 minutes. Once you have a habit, it will be easier to spend more time and gain numerous benefits from your journal.
Here is an excellent article that will help with making a habit.
Try a 30-day challenge to jumpstart your new journaling habit.
5 TIPS for Keeping Your Journal
1: Integrate your time for keeping your journal into your daily routine. I like to sit down and relax after dinner, so that is an excellent time for me. I have anchored doing my journal to something I always do: have dinner. You could do it just before retiring for the night, or first thing in the morning. Choose a space in your routine that is most comfortable for you.
2: Try different styles and formats. Then make your journal with the method that suits your style and personality. If you want to journal in a detailed and organized form, a variation of the bullet journal might be best. If you like brevity, an adaptation of essence journaling would be ideal.
3: Don’t get discouraged if you miss a day. The best way to deal with this is to write in your journal the minute you think about having missed it. Most of all, don’t feel like a failure because it happened. I’ve ignored my diet and exercise journal many times over 15 years, but I pick back up and go again.
4: Keep your entries short. Don’t allow your journal to become a chore. Anytime you begin to feel like it’s a chore, revert to essence journaling and write one sentence.
5: Always have a purpose for your journal. A bullet journal is for planning and managing your entire life. My diet and exercise journal is to help me stay fit and trim. If you have a self-improvement goal for your diary, start an exciting new goal after achieving the old one.
The Last Word About How to Keep a Journal
Always go back to the reason why you want to keep a journal. Then, be sure to focus on that when keeping your journal. Use the motivation suggestions until you have a habit that meets your needs.
I wish you great success in your efforts to keep a journal!
James, K., & Engelhardt, L. (2012). The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literate children. Trends In Neuroscience And Education, 1(1), 32-42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tine.2012.08.001
Murnahan, Briana, “Stress and Anxiety Reduction Due to Writing Diaries, Journals, E-mail, and Weblogs” (2010). Senior Honors Theses. 230. http://commons.emich.edu/honors/230
Finding the silver lining: The relative roles of redemptive narratives and cognitive reappraisal in individuals’ emotional distress after the end of a romantic relationship – Erica B. Slotter, Deborah E. Ward, 2015. (2020). Journal Of Social And Personal Relationships. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265407514546978
Baikie, K., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances In Psychiatric Treatment, 11(5), 338-346. https://doi.org/10.1192/apt.11.5.338