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Keeping A Journal Now Will Change Your Life Later. Here’s Why.

Keeping A Journal Now Will Change Your Life Later. Here’s Why.

When we talk about journaling here, we’re talking about one of those old-school journals made of paper in which you write with a pen, pencil, or assortment of coloured markers. Many of us have grown accustomed to communicating solely through text, but keeping a paper-based journal is actually very nurturing to the soul, and can be a long-term record of your thoughts and emotions far after your computer has died and your Cloud storage has been compromised.

There are numerous benefits to journaling that go far beyond greater hand-eye coordination and improved penmanship. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

1. Stress Release

In our hectic daily lives, it seems as though we’re constantly in motion. From the moment we wake to the moment we fall asleep, life is a huge flurry of activity: personal care, commuting to work, dealing with the job, commuting home, cooking, cleaning, family time, lather/rinse/repeat.

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Dedicating a few minutes each day to sitting down and writing in your journal—even if it’s just half a page or so—allows you to be entirely in the moment as you collect your thoughts and commit them to paper. When you write something out by hand, your breathing automatically slows and regulates itself, you’re forced to be quite still so your pen doesn’t skid all over the place, and your thoughts aren’t allowed to wander away from the task at hand. You might be amazed at what a few minutes of stillness can do to alleviate your stress levels and help your overall sense of well-being.

2. Idea Catcher and Inspiration Notebook

Brilliant ideas and moments of inspiration tend to come out of nowhere, and if we don’t write them down when they arise, we run the risk of forgetting about them. If you keep a journal with you at all times, you can jot down these ideas as they spring up—even if it’s just a sentence or drawing that captures the essence of what popped into your head.

Keeping the journal by your bed at night is also perfect for the ideas or images that may appear in your dreams. Socrates, Hildegard von Bingen, Michelangelo, Dali, and Charlotte Bronte are just a few famous people whose works were inspired by dreams; who knows what yours might manifest as if you manage to keep track of them?

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3. It’s a Judgment-Free Zone

You can write whatever you like, and no-one is going to judge you for it. This is a sacred space for you to pour our your deepest, darkest secrets, woes, fears, joys, and more, safe in the knowledge that it’s all absolutely okay. Getting it all out on paper might even bring some clarity and focus to things that have been bothering you, thus allowing you to work through them. You might come to major epiphanies, or even just gather the strength to approach others with things that may need to be acknowledged aloud.

4. You Can “Scream” in Text, and Nobody Needs to Hear You

A journal can be the ideal place to vent all the frustrations that you’re forced to hold back from yelling about for the sake of others. Is your boss driving you insane? Write down the idiotic things they did to irk you today, and then slam the book shut. Did your kids do something truly reprehensible, but you had to play the part of the tolerant, patient parent and not rip their hair out? Write it all down: it’ll be great material to remind them of when they have kids of their own.

Putting all of this down on paper is immensely cathartic, as it gives you the opportunity to let out all of your negative, and thus let it go.

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5. Uninhibited Creativity

Remember that a journal doesn’t have to be solely comprised of words written on paper: a journal can also include collages, drawings, mini paintings, and more. Instead of a standard paper-based journal, you can use a heavy-duty scrapbook and add in all manner of things that you find interesting.

Journal Page
    Photo by Frances, via Flickr

    6. It Can Help You Achieve a Goal

    Do you have a project or goal that you’d like to pursue, but are having trouble moving towards it? A journal can be an invaluable friend that can help motivate you and keep you on track. Whether your goal is to change careers, redecorate your house, run a half marathon, or write a novel, dedicate a large notebook to it and write in it whenever the whim strikes you. Write down your moments of doubt as well as your mini successes: did you manage to write a thousand words today? Excellent! Make note of how you managed to focus, and how great you felt. Did you strike out with sending out resumes and letters of inquiry? Reassure yourself that things will be better tomorrow, and that the only way to fail is not to try at all.

    You can even skip ahead several pages and write random notes of encouragement to yourself—it might boost your spirits when you’re having an off day and you open a page that begins with “I believe in ME”, or a similar affirmation.

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    7. Appreciation of Silence, and Authenticity

    When you write in your journal, make sure that you’re doing so without distractions such as TV, radio, Netflix, or some raging death metal MP3s in the background. Many people are uncomfortable in silence, but it’s in silent stillness that we’re forced to be truly honest with ourselves… and in turn, our journaling will be more authentic as a result.

    Before you put pen to paper, take a few deep breaths and just sit in the silence. Then, let your thoughts move freely from mind to journal: you may be surprised at what forms there.

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    Catherine Winter

    Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

    More Time Management Techniques

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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