Keeping a journal has plenty of benefits, but sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming. Trying to find something to write about, or the time to write, can be a struggle.
It doesn’t have to be a difficult endeavor, though. A few simple strategies can make keeping a journal easy and even fun.
Try these six ideas to make journaling a part of your day.
Choose your journal
Notebooks are a simple classic choice for keeping a journal. But you can also purchase a pretty diary or keep your journal digitally with an app or even a simple Word document.
Handwriting can help you feel more connected to your writing, but if you tend to think much faster than you can write, you might find typing your entries to be easier to read later as well as easier to keep up with your thoughts as you’re writing.
You can also play around with trying a couple of options until you decide which one works best for you.
Choose a time to journal each day
Randomly journaling whenever you think of it can work, but when you end up with a super busy day, you’ll forget to journal. It’s also much easier to procrastinate and not do it if you don’t have a set time.
Choose a time each day when you will sit down and write. The end of the day is a good time, since the day is behind you and you’ll have plenty to write about (in theory, anyway). After you’ve meditated is another good time since your mind is typically clear and it’s easier to decide what to write about.
Whatever time you choose, stick with it. Set a reminder in your phone or place the journal where you can’t miss it so that it will remind you.
Try not to skip more than one day at once
I get it. Life gets hectic, things come up and there might be days when you just don’t get to your journal. It happens to everyone.
But it’s important that you try not to miss more than one day in a row. The more days you skip, the easier it becomes to forget and to just not do it. You don’t have to try to “make up” for missed entries, but do get back to writing the very next day whenever possible.
If you miss a day, try placing your journal somewhere that will be highly visible or a bit inconvenient to remind you to write the following day. Your nightstand, on top of your purse, or blocking your coffee machine are all good ideas.
Write shorter entries regularly
Sometimes journaling feels like a chore because you think you have to write long, drawn out entries. But you don’t! In fact, I strongly encourage you to write shorter entries specifically so you don’t feel like journaling is something you have to do.
You can write shorter entries multiple times throughout the day, or just write shorter entries once. If and/or when the urge to write a longer entry hits you, it will feel authentic and good to write that entry because it won’t be forced.
Even if some of your entries are nothing more than “Had a salad for lunch. Very boring day today,” the consistency of writing every day is key.
Record more than just thoughts
Sometimes we think our journal has to be some kind of time capsule: a window into our minds for future generations to read and gain wisdom from. But let’s face it, we’re not all Mark Twain or any other famous person whose journals get published. We’re just average people, living average lives.
Our journals should be written for ourselves. As such, we should record what matters to us.
Record important events that happened that day: big meetings, first dates, car accidents, whatever you feel is important about the day. Track your progress toward goals you’ve set so you can reflect on it later. Analyze challenges you faced that day and how they helped you grow or why they were a challenge.
Make your journal meaningful for you. It may not make sense to anyone else, and that’s okay because you should also…
Keep your journal private and secure
One of the ways we benefit from journaling is by being honest with ourselves within its pages. The only way we can do this is by knowing that whatever we write will stay private and no one else will ever read it unless we choose to allow them to.
If you keep a digital journal, protect it with a password. If you keep a paper journal, keep it out of sight of others. If you’re having guests over and you usually leave it on your coffee table, put it up in your bedroom. If you have roommates, keep it in your bedroom — and perhaps even hide it. If you have a spouse or children, keep it out of reach and ask for privacy.
Unless you’re going out of town for an overnight trip or vacation, keep the journal at home. The fewer people who have potential access to it, the less likely it is that someone else will read it.
Journaling doesn’t have to be a big deal
Keeping a journal can have a great impact on your life, but it doesn’t have to be a big deal. It can be a fun way to end your day. As with anything you do, you shouldn’t try to follow these strategies exactly if they don’t work for you. Adapt things as needed and find your own way to create a journaling practice that makes you feel good.