The trap that many people fall into that prevents them from keeping an effective journal is that they approach it as a literary exercise, instead of a productivity tool. Poetic insights and vivid descriptive detail are great, and if you want to do that for its own sake, more power to you! But that’s not the purpose. The kind of journal we’re talking about here is a place to keep tabs on what’s going on, and something you can refer to later to refresh your memory and help you see what progress has been made. A shipboard log, of the type kept by Captain Kirk, was the age of sail’s equivalent to a black box, and is a lot closer to the kind of journal we’re talking about here.
To get around this trap, I recommend a Five Minute Journal. As the name implies, is something you write up quickly in the morning to start your day, and then update quickly at night before going to bed. You’re not writing beautiful diary entries here, you’re just creating short, bulleted lists, so you don’t need a gorgeous leather-bound tome. Just grab a cheapy spiral notebook and get moving!
A Five Minute Journal is updated twice a day, when you get up and before you go to bed, so you could keep it on your nightstand if you like. Your morning update creates your day’s mindset and sets your intentions for the day, and your evening update reviews the results and looks for improvement opportunities. So for example, this morning my Five Minute Journal would look something like this:
APRIL 2, 2018 – MORNING
Today I am grateful for:
- All the fun I had this past weekend. 🙂
What will I accomplish today?
- Make an appointment with my accountant.
- Get a haircut.
- Write a Coaching Blog post. ;P
Daily Affirmations. I am…
- …bringing people happiness and self-realization directly through coaching or indirectly through the creation of inspiring and enduring stories and works of art.
- …making healthy choices and taking care of myself.
- …fun to be around and I naturally attract positive relationships into my life.
Total time it took me to write up these lists: five minutes. Hence the name, “Five Minute Journal.” Tonight, my followup might go…
APRIL 2, 2018 – EVENING
Three Amazing Things That Happened Today
- Completely cleared my to-do list, as well as finished the rest of the script for my next comic (bonus!)
- New haircut makes me look like a million bucks
- My cats were ridiculously adorable
How Could I Have Made Today Even Better?
- I wasn’t really enjoying those YouTube videos I spent my lunchbreak watching. 😛 I could have found something more fun there.
- I miss my buddy out in California. I could have called him today.
- Eat more chocolate. >.>
Again, five minutes. Super-simple, but remarkably effective. The morning entry gives you a roadmap for a productive day and puts you in the right frame of mind to carry it out. The evening entry gives yourself a pat on the back for doing a great job, and also gives your subconscious things to chew on while you sleep and points to things you might put on your lists for tomorrow.
A nice added bonus to these lists is that you can go back and re-read them later when you’re short on motivation, when you’re having a bad day, or even just want to review how far you’ve come and all the things you’ve accomplished. It can also serve as a reminder– “Oh yeah, that project I was working on six months ago kinda got stalled, I should really finish that off!”
The Five Minute Journal works especially well in combination with a Bullet Journal– but that’s a big topic that I’ll get into another day. In the meantime, if you’re interested, check out BulletJournal.com to get started.
Now get moving! Grab a notebook, make your first morning entry, and put this tool to work!
Sound helpful? Interested in learning more tools to get things done, or want to put the power of my coaching to work for you? Contact me via direct message, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary session today.