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Why You Should Keep A Journal And How To Get Started

Why You Should Keep A Journal And How To Get Started

Keeping a journal might sound like something you should have outgrown in middle school, but that’s just a stereotype. Writing in a journal is actually very beneficial, and recommended by many psychiatrists as an accompaniment to, or even a substitution for, therapy. Here’s some information on why you should keep a journal, followed by some tips on how to get started.

1. Clear your mind.

Writing down what happens during your day is a great way to clear your mind. You can write down what happened and how you felt about it, and then you don’t have to keep those thoughts in your head anymore. Writing stuff down is often just as good as sharing with a friend because you’re getting it off of your shoulders. Sometimes writing is even better because you can be totally honest without worrying what the other person will think of you.

2. Improve mental health.

Writing in a journal is a great way to relieve stress and improve your mental health because, as mentioned above, your mind is cleared. You don’t have too many thoughts running around in your head because you’ve let them loose on paper. Studies have shown that even writing for 15–20 minutes on a stressful topic leads to significantly better physical and psychological outcomes. The practice is so highly regarded by mental health professionals that there’s even a Center for Journal Therapy!

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3. Be creative!

You don’t have to keep a straightforward record of what happened every day or how you felt when something happened. Keeping a journal means you have the freedom to write what you want, how you want. Hey, you don’t even have to write! Draw sketches – maybe the doodles help you get more down quickly. Write in bubble letters, or include photos and mementos of things that happen each day.

4. Keep a record of your life.

Whether it’s for yourself or for others, keeping a journal means you’re keeping a record of your life. If you’re only writing for yourself, you can use the journal as a look back at past mistakes, and use them as reminders to not do the same things again. You can put a positive spin on it by writing down the highlights of your day so you’ll remember the good things. If you’re writing for others, like your siblings or children, you can write an autobiography so your stories won’t die with you.

5. Holding yourself accountable.

Writing regularly is a great way to hold yourself accountable – for therapeutic writing, as well as other aspects of your life. It’s a fun exercise to try to write at the same time every day – either when you first wake up and want to share your hopes and dreams for the day, or before bed, when you can write about everything that happened. Once you’re able to write regularly, you can apply this discipline and schedule structure to other aspects of your life. You’ll see the benefits in a variety of areas, but especially in your work life, where your written communication can improve and you will find yourself completing writing-intensive projects more easily.

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Now that you know some of the benefits to keeping a journal, I bet you’re itching to start your own. Before you get started, think about the following items to make sure you’re going to journal in the way that’s best for you.

1. Get a new notebook.

This is my favorite part of starting a journal! I love going to the bookstore or stationery store to peruse the aisles of blank books. You might want to pick a standard spiral-bound notebook so the defined lines will help keep your thoughts on track. Or maybe you want a beautiful leather-bound book with gilded pages to inspire your most creative thoughts.

2. Sign up for a blog.

Maybe you don’t want to be bogged down by a physical notebook at all. In that case, a blog might be the best way for you to keep track of your thoughts. There are many different blog sites online, the most popular, and easiest to use, being WordPress and Blogger. Be aware that these sites are public, and you might be easily tracked down by people who know your name or email address. You can use a screen name, or sign up for a blogging platform with a privacy control, but it’s still best to be careful with what you’re putting online.

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3. Download an app.

Maybe you want the freedom of a digital journal, but don’t want to post publicly on a blog. You don’t want to tote around a paper journal, but you already tote around your smartphone, so why not employ it? There are countless journal apps for your smartphone that range from giving you the look of an actual journal page, to giving you a place to easily jot down notes.

4. Let your thoughts loose.

Once you pick your medium, let your thoughts loose. This is the one place where you don’t need to censor yourself, so don’t get bogged down with wondering who’s going to read behind you and how much you want them to know. Regardless of how you’re trying to improve your writing skills, be careful with editing your journal. If you write a sentence, then pause to edit it, you’ll never get your thoughts down, and you’ll probably get easily frustrated. Write everything down as it comes to you, without thinking of how it sounds or what word might work better. This is the best way to get therapeutic benefits from journaling.

5. Don’t set guidelines.

Maybe one day you want to rehash an argument verbatim, but the next day you want to tape in some photos of your visit to the new art gallery. You can even use a journal to keep track of your accomplishments at work or in your personal life, and get a self-esteem boost every time you look over it! The looser you are with keeping your journal, the more excited you’ll be to sit down and work on it. If you let yourself be creative and free, then you’ll be more likely to want to write every day, and then you’ll not only have a more complete record of your life and thoughts, but you’ll also feel better by getting all those thoughts out of your head and onto paper!

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Featured photo credit: Ethan Lofton via flickr.com

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How to Be Productive: 11 Ways to Be Productive and Happy at Once

How to Be Productive: 11 Ways to Be Productive and Happy at Once

A lack of productivity leads to a lack of happiness.

When you can’t see yourself making progress or getting things done, you get anxious and become stressful.

There are also tons of things that contribute to unhappiness here too: Facebook notifications, emails, texts, and chatty co-workers are just a small fraction of the disruptions we’re bombarded with. These “little things” can stack up fast and lead to hampering your happiness and productivity levels.

Learn how to be productive with the 11 tips below and reclaim your everyday productivity and your happiness, once and for all.

1. Be happy now

Life is too short. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, be happy now. Start by finding something to be grateful for; everyone has at least one thing to be grateful for.

Most of the world still has trouble getting access to clean drinking water… yhat means you can even be grateful for that bottle of Aquafina you’ve got on your desk right now.

2. Finish your day before it starts

Proper planning is the secret to peak productivity, and it’s also a good idea to set daily goals. Get yourself a planning tool and prioritize your daily tasks with it.

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Here’s a smart technique on planning and prioritization: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

3. Celebrate the small wins

Every time you check off a task from your to-do list, you release a “happy chemical” in your brain called dopamine. This gives you the motivation to move forward and do even more.

For example, after I finish writing this article and I’ve crossed it off my list of things to do today, I’ll get a nice burst of “happy chemicals” releasing in my brain. The best part? Zero side effects!

Learn from here: How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals

4. Leverage like there’s no tomorrow

Look for ways to use the good old 80/20 rule by identifying tasks that you might be able to outsource or leverage out to a virtual assistant.

Stop wasting time doing things that don’t challenge you or ignite your passion. Hire out or automate anything and everything within your means.

Check out this guide to find out how to start to delegate: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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5. Recharge your batteries

Figure out how many hours of sleep your body needs and make sure you get it. Take time to stretch, walk, or relax—you’ll be glad you did.

Here’re some simple ways to relax completely and get rid of stress.

6. Become an early riser

This is one of the most underused productivity “hacks” on the planet. Ever since I decided to start waking up at 5am every day, my productivity levels and happiness have gone up dramatically.

Most people aren’t up that early, so no one can bother you or disrupt you from what you want to do. Use this time to exercise, meditate, or to get a head start on your day.

Not sure how to wake up earlier? Here are 11 Ways To Become an Early Riser Like Most Successful People Do.

7. Do work you’re passionate about

Make it your goal to blur the line between work and play by doing more things you’re passionate about. This promotes happiness both inside and outside of the workplace.

Find what you’re passionate about and do it, or learn how to enjoy what you do with these tips: How to Enjoy What You Are Doing No Matter What

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8. Use time blocks

For example, when I wrote this article, I gave myself a one hour time block. This prevents unnecessary dilly-dallying like updating your Facebook status and checking email.

Use an app like Alarmed to keep you on track.  Here’s a snapshot of the app from my iPhone.

    9. Avoid interruptions

    Interruptions are among the biggest barriers to both productivity and happiness. Every time you’re interrupted in the middle of a task your level of productivity takes a hit.

    We’ve all been there: you’re fully immersed in an important project until all of a sudden the workplace chatterbox appears out of nowhere and starts talking about stuff that doesn’t matter. By the time she’s gone, you’ve already forgotten where you were and it takes 30 minutes to get back on track.

    Avoid this by letting people know that you’ve got important work that’s got to be done.

    Learn more about how to stay focus in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

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    10. Shut down the digital disruptions

    iPhones, mailbox notifications, twitter, facebook, and everything that pops, slides, or fades in and out of your screen has got to go. Shut them down and focus.

    It’s as easy as turning off the notifications or scheduling only a specific time to check all these notifications and texts.

    11. Measure your success

    Every now and then, it’s a good idea to measure your results and see how things are coming along.

    How’s your progress? Are you pacing in the right direction? Are things getting better? Worse? It’s always a good idea to track your progress regularly.

    With an app like Rescue Time, you can easily keep track of the time you spend throughout the day. It helps you to find out how much time you’re really on-task and so you can review your progress.

      With these 11 effective ways to improve productivity, you will get more things done timely and become happier.

      Start small and take up each suggestion one by one, you can boost your productivity and create your happiness too.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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