When you were a kid/teenager, did you keep a diary? Did you use it to write all your biggest secrets, how your day went, how you were feeling? Was it a way of expressing yourself and all the things that you kept locked inside? We might look back on our teenage diaries with mixed feelings. I know that whenever I read through my old diaries, I’m partially horrified and partially amused.
BUT! The practice of writing a diary, however immature our thoughts and actions, was actually very beneficial. I now know it was a place where I could vent my teenage angst down without hurting others. A huge example that sticks in my mind is when, at age 15, my (ex) best friend stole my first boyfriend (to be fair to teen me, it was hurrendeous). I could write in a way that helped me to deal with it and move on safely, and I actually made a full circle to realise what I wanted my actions to be.
In the adult world, we call this practice journaling, and it’s hella’ helpful for us. I’ve regularly journaled for over three years and still use it to vent and write about my day, but more structurally, in a way that helps me grow, find answers and realisations, and deal with my emotions and experiences thoughtfully.
I use journaling as a tool for different areas of my life:
- Goal setting
In this post, I’m focusing on how you can utilise journaling for your work. While you may think that journaling would waste precious time, it actually helps you within your working life to organise your thoughts, generate creativity and ideas, and prompt reflection so that you can do things better next time. You can create clear, actionable goals and ideas. It helps you to work more efficiently, become better and stronger within your job, and find more happiness in what you do.
So, you want to journal—where do you begin?
Journaling is a practice best done when you have no distractions. When is this in your day? First thing in the morning, within a break, or just before bed? Whenever it is, it’s the ideal time for you to write. Please note—you do not need masses of time. If you only have five minutes every other day, that’s fine—you can utilise that. If you have twenty minutes twice a week, go for it. It’s whatever fits in best with you. It’s not a chore or something extra on a to-do list.
Next, think about what form your writing will take. Is your phone/laptop likely to distract you? Pen and paper will probably work better then. Do you find putting pen to paper tricky? Utilise a Word doc, a notes app, or even a voice recording.
Once you’ve figured out the when and how, you need to think about the what. If you’ve got your allotted times and know when you’re going to write, you can then plan what topic you’ll write on. Sometimes you might want to go in and do a brain-dump—more on that later—but having a set idea in mind makes your journaling effective. Adding structure to your journal sesh will help you use that time productively—if you’ve only got a few minutes, you need to know what focus that time will have. Journaling forms and prompts come in now.
This form comes in handy when you have something you want/need to achieve. That’s your goal. You can put that as a heading, then underneath, write ways you can achieve it.
This one is great when done at the end of the day or after a big project/meeting. You can put down all that happened (good and bad) and reflect. Then if you want to, you can think about how it could be better next time.
Think of this as free writing, putting down all your thoughts. If you’ve got something bothering you, this is awesome for gaining clarity and clearing your mind. Brain dumps can be very spur of the moment, or if you’ve just had a shit day you can put it all down in the evening.
When you follow prompts, you give yourself clear questions to answer. You can have one-off prompts that place specific focus and daily prompts where your answers change daily! For prompts, Google and Pinterest are your best friends for inspiration, or you could use this list I’ve created.
I follow daily prompts in a morning. My daily writing usually goes like this:
Another amazing thing to do is to write a gratitude list. You can make this work-specific. Gratitude lists have been proven to be so beneficial for you mental-health.
I will write ‘What am I grateful for?’ and then list 3/4 things. This can be tricky to begin with, but once you’re used to it, the things to be grateful for are never-ending. Even just your mid-morning cup of tea is something to be grateful for.
What will the results be?
- Less stress.
Writing about your work experiences helps you to manage them healthily. You’re more aware of your moods and what triggers you.
- Learning from experiences
The reflective part of journaling comes into play here. Because you reflect, you draw lessons and understanding. From this, you gain more productivity for the future.
- Boosted creativity
Writing down your thoughts and experiences lets you explore and form new ideas. Getting rid of your recurrent thoughts and stresses also creates more room for creative thinking.
- A greater sense of you.
All the writing you do allows you to learn more about who you are, what you value, and your aims. Because you then have a greater sense of self, your esteem and confidence will rise.
Overall, if you can’t tell from the post, journaling is something I’m massively passionate about. I can say that it impacts my everyday working life in such a positive way. I think it’s an amazing tool, and I’m so glad that I’ve fit it into my daily life. If you’re inspired to begin, the most important thing to remember is that there’s no such thing as too much or too little—it’s whatever works best for you. Google promts or find them on Pinterest if you’re stuck.