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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 September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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