In this post we will cover the benefits of a journal practice, and how to get started.
Over the course of 6 steps, you will learn what to write, as well as how to turn this practice into a consistent habit.
Through years of trial and error, these tried and true steps have been developed & tested by us - and are proven to be effective.
If you are ready to learn how to start journaling and stay consistent, this post is for you!
Let’s get started…
Before We Begin
Before we get into the steps, I thought we should start by covering some of the benefits journaling has to offer, as well as some popular journaling ideas you can use.
Benefits Of Journaling
Writing in a journal offers many amazing benefits. I can personally attest to several of these myself. A few of the most notable benefits are:
- A reduction in stress due to increased mindfulness and awareness
- Helps to improve overall mood and outlook on life
- Improvement in self-awareness, clarity of purpose, and direction
- Helps to uncover purpose, and enhances self development
- It has been shown to improve communication skills and deepen relationships
These are just a few of the benefits experienced through a consistent journal practice.
Taking a few moments out of your day to get out of your head and get your thoughts, feelings and concerns on paper can truly do wonders for you.
Types Of Journaling
There are several types of journaling techniques that can be explored, depending upon what it is you are looking to get out of this practice.
A few popular journaling examples are:
- Setting daily intentions
- Keeping a daily log of events
- Expressive Writing
- Gratitude Journaling
- Bullet Journaling
- Journaling prompts
- Self discovery / Self exploration
Whether you're looking to learn how to journal for therapy, how to journal for self-improvement, or maybe just some tips on journaling for beginners, there is a method available for you.
You can even pick a few different types and mix it up, which is what I personally like to do.
Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding.
Now on to the steps!
The 6 Steps To Journaling
Through the years we have found there to be 6 helpful steps to take to not just start your journal practice, but also make it stick!
Step 1 - Understand Your Purpose
This step is about determining what it is you are looking to gain.
What is your purpose for journaling?
Do you need to gain clarity and direction on your goals? Do you feel you could use a better, more optimistic outlook on life?
Gratitude journaling is a great way to set your mind on the positive things in life. A daily log is an excellent tool for personal growth, as it allows you to record events and reflect on the day.
Once you understand your why, you can better determine the best journaling method to use moving forward.
Step 2 - Get Your Journal
Now that you know your purpose for journaling, you can pick out the journal that makes the most sense for your specific needs.
When choosing your journal, keep in mind your unique preference and style as well. What colors, patterns and even size would you like best. Would you prefer a soft or hard cover?
Personally, I like the look and durability of a hard covered journal. I also prefer a journal that contains prompts for days when my thoughts need a little guidance and direction.
The important thing is that you make it special and customized to you.
The Daily Greatness Original combines a yearly journal, goal and appointment planner, and daily tools for self-mastery. If you're looking to get everything you can out of a journaling practice, this is the journal I recommend!
Step 3 - Schedule Your Journaling Time
In this step you are going to block off a specific time to write. Pick a time in the day where you can spend at least 20 minutes in a quiet, uninterrupted place.
A popular time is first thing in the morning before you start your day, with a fresh cup of coffee or tea. If mornings aren’t your thing, then the evening before bed to end your day and clear your mind is another great time.
You may even want to do both.
Again, it’s about making it work for you and your specific needs. The important thing is that you block off the time - and commit to it.
Step 4 - Create Your Journaling Environment
This step is about creating an effective environment for writing, mainly by getting in the right frame of mind.
For this I would suggest starting out with some deep breathing, maybe a short meditation to release any mental fog or mind chatter.
If you prefer, you could even light a candle or put on some essential oils. The point is for you to feel calm, relaxed, focused and free of any distractions to best allow the flow of thoughts from your head to the paper.
If you've been interested in meditation for a while, but aren't sure where to begin. I highly recommend this course: A Meditation Expert's 14-Day Guide. You'll learn how to reap the many benefits of meditation; less anxiety, better moods, happier relationships, and deeper sleep.
Step 5 - Write Your Entry
You are now ready to write!
Let loose, have fun, be creative, and let your thoughts flow. If you’re feeling stuck, start by writing the date and time just to get the pen moving.
Whatever journaling method you chose, or time block you set aside, another helpful tip I would suggest is setting a timer to help keep you on track.
A timer will allow you to stay focused and in the flow with your writing, without the distraction of checking the clock.
I personally set a timer on my phone and allow myself to focus on nothing else but writing until the alarm goes off.
Step 6 - Make it a Habit
This step is about making this practice a part of your daily routine. We want to create a journaling habit.
Habits are typically developed best when starting small, and then built upon from there. Maybe start by committing to just 5 minutes a day, and expanding the time as you become consistent.
Another helpful tip is to set a reminder for yourself when it’s time to journal, that way it doesn’t get brushed off or lost in the busyness of the day.
I would also suggest tracking your progress. Make a note in your calendar on the days you complete a writing session. (My favorite tracking method is the Daylio app)
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Over the span of 7 days, we will cover a variety of topics that will allow you to find ways to slow down, reset, and simplify.
This journal habit is meant to help you, so also keep track of personal growth gained along the way.
Are you feeling more centered, less stressed, more clear headed, better able to communicate your thoughts and feelings to yourself and others? Make a note of this!
Focus on your growth!
Atomic Habits teaches you how to build effective habits by building effective systems. It's the best book I've read on how to create good habits and break bad ones.
One of the best things I’ve done for my personal growth and mental health is starting and maintaining a consistent daily journal practice.
Through the years I’ve found that it has helped me to articulate my thoughts and feelings, explore my creative side, and it has helped me get to know myself better.
By following the 6 steps above, you will be able to see the benefits a journaling practice can have in your life!
What About You?
What type of journaling are you going to try first?
Maybe gratitude journaling? Or possibly self-exploration?
Let us know in the comments below!