I started journaling every day in January 2021. It was a habit I’d always wanted to build, but I’d always fill up a few pages of a newly-purchased notebook from Office Depot and then toss it into a drawer.
I don’t know why I always felt that journaling meant that you had to buy a physical journal and write. It wasn’t until I switched to digital journaling that I started being consistent.
So far, I’ve successfully journaled *almost* every day for one year.
Today I want to teach you why you should be journaling and how to do it every day.
We carry a lot in our heads. Issues from the past. Problems from the day. Anxiety about the future. Goals and dreams.
We go around with all this noise between our ears, and unless we’re seeing a therapist, there’s a high probability you’re not talking to anyone about it.
The issue is we keep piling up these problems like unread emails in an inbox. We then wonder why we sometimes have this nagging feeling that something’s off. We’re not unhappy; we’re just not peaceful.
Journaling is the best therapy I know of next to seeing a therapist. It allows you to take out whatever is in your head and dump it onto a page that won’t judge you.
I can tell you from personal experience that I’ve journaled my way out of problems because I was open and honest in a way I wouldn’t be with anyone else. And I’ve felt better because of this practice.
Apparently, I’m not the only person who’s had this experience. According to a study cited by WebMD, researchers found that “those with medical conditions and anxiety who wrote online for 15 minutes three days a week over a 12-week period had increased feelings of well-being and fewer depressive symptoms after one month.” In other words, people who journaled were a little happier after doing it.
So now that you know that there are benefits to this journaling stuff and that I’m a real example of someone who's benefited from this habit, let’s talk about how to actually do it.
Journaling, when done successfully, is simply about pulling out whatever is in your head and dropping it onto something external: a paper, a digital notebook, a word document, a text to yourself.
There are no rules to it.
You can be sitting down. You can be lying down. You can be awake. You can be half-asleep.
No matter what position you’re in or how you’re feeling, all you’re doing is writing down whatever comes to your mind. It could be a fear, a dream, a goal, a crazy thought.
Write down that you’re still upset John punched you in the 3rd grade. Write down your plan to fix an issue at work. Hell, write down the plot to a western movie that you really think should be made one day.
Just give yourself permission to write without reservation until you feel like you’re done.
One question I’ve gotten before is how long a journal entry should be. Well, I have entries that are almost 5k words long and some that are 2 words long.
For example, here’s a journal entry from October 9, 2021:
For some reason, I needed to get those two words out of my head and onto a page. I don’t know why, but it made me feel better.
The easiest way I’ve learned how to journal has been using Day One. I am not affiliated with them in any way—this app is just the easiest and safest way I’ve found for journaling. Day One uses end-to-end encryption, so you can rest assured your information is private.
I have the mobile app. This is great because I can journal from anywhere. The act of journaling on my phone feels no different than texting a friend, except I’m writing about something random on my mind.
Now if you prefer to use Google docs, Apple Notes, or even an app like Notion, go for it. As long as you feel comfortable and that the process is as frictionless as possible is all that counts.
Overall, journaling has been one of the best habits I learned in 2021. It’s allowed me to be calmer, happier, and work through problems better. It also allowed me to start a daily writing habit that led to my productivity newsletter.
I encourage you to try journaling for a week with a lower barrier to entry.
I guarantee you’ll feel better after doing it.
Motivation is a myth.