Tag Archives: diary

How I Organize My Journal

I have written about the benefits of keeping a journal. Here, in the hope that an example will be helpful, I will show you how I organize my journal.

How I Organize My JournalOf course, one of the best things about journal writing is that you can write anything you want, about any subject you want and in any format you want.

You can write your journal free form, as most do, or you can create a structure for it, as I have. Let me tell you how I do it . . .

I keep an electronic journal, not a handwritten one. Typing is much faster than writing for me. And, unlike my writing, typing produces a readable result. I like being able to easily add photos and links to my electronic journal. And I love the fact it is searchable.

I use a journal template I created, and here it is, with some comments about each section . . .


DATE


TOP 5 VALUES

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

The first thing I see every day is a reminder of what I’m all about, what I’m trying to achieve through my activities.


ANNUAL GOALS

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

At the end of each year, I develop 3 – 5 major business and personal goals for the upcoming year, and they appear near the top of each day’s journal. I want to be reminded every day what I’m trying to accomplish and whether I’m making consistent progress toward my goals.


MONTHLY GOALS

1. Read at least one book and write takeaways
2. Weekly calls to [family and friends]
3. Monthly calls to [friends and business associates]
4.

Monthly goals are partly derived from my annual goals. These are the things I must do in the current month to stay on pace to achieve my annual goals. I set these on the last day of the preceding month.

Some of my monthly goals are the same each month. I have shown several examples, such as staying in touch with family, friends and business associates on a regular basis.


WEEKLY GOALS

1. Call [family, friends, business associates]
2.

Weekly goals, in turn, are derived partly from my monthly goals. These are the things I must do in the current week to stay on pace for achieving my monthly goals. I set these on Sunday.

Some of my weekly goals are the same each week. Examples are keeping in touch with family, friends and business associates.


TODAY’S TO DO LIST

1. Edit yesterday’s journal entry.
2. Make today’s journal entry.
3.

This is my TO TO list for the day. I normally create this list at the end of the preceding business day. If I couldn’t, I create this list in the morning before I do anything else.

Some of my daily goals are the same each day. I have listed obvious examples of reviewing yesterday’s journal and making today’s journal entry.


EXERCISE

Fitness is a priority of mine, so I keep track of my fitness efforts and hold myself accountable every day. I record the details of that day’s workout.


WEIGHT

Here, also, I want to be accountable daily. I want to know each day how much pressure I am putting on the planet.


BLOOD PRESSURE

When my blood pressure started to creep up, I began measuring it every day. That focus has helped me make the necessary changes to bring it back to where I want it.


FOOD CONSUMED

Breakfast –
A.M. Snack –
Lunch –
P.M. Snack –
Dinner –
Late Snack -

Diet and exercise are the core components of health. Therefore, I make a record of my diet so that I will be accountable to myself each day. (Although I have 6 entries for meals, I don’t always eat 6 meals a day. I may eat 3,4,5 or 6, depending on such things as my activities.)


MONEY SPENT

I want to know on a daily basis how I am spending my money. This helps me decide whether my financial priorities are sound and whether I’m making progress toward my financial goals.


TODAY’S ACTIVITIES

This is a description of what I did during the day. It is usually the longest entry in my journal. I include details such as phone numbers that I may need again and order or reference numbers. Sometimes I include thoughts about future activities.


IDEAS & THINGS TO REMEMBER

This is where I record ideas and anything else that is important enough to remember. For example, if I’m researching a consumer purchase, this is where I keep my notes. I also record interesting things I have learned, as well as projects or goals I am contemplating.



That’s how I organize my journal. My journal system may be more complicated than you want, need or have the time for. Or it may not be detailed enough for your needs. It’s just an example. I hope it helps you design your personal journal.

15 Benefits Of Keeping A Journal

Benefits of Journal WritingWhen I decided, a little over a year ago, to finally begin writing a daily journal, I had no idea how many benefits would come my way.

My experience has made me an unabashed proponent of journaling. I strongly recommend it to you.

So, what exactly is a journal and why should you write one?

A journal is a periodic, usually daily, record of information which often includes such things as experiences, thoughts and future plans. However, what you write in your journal is entirely up to you, and journal contents vary from person to person.

Before I explain how I have benefited and how I think you can benefit from keeping a journal, let’s look at reasons why people do not write a journal.

Reasons Why People Do Not Write A Journal

These are some of the most common reasons why people do not keep a journal:

  • “Writing in a diary is for kids.”
  • ”I don’t have anything to write.”
  • “I’m not a good writer.”
  • ”I don’t have the time.”
  • “That’s the last thing I need, another daily obligation.”
  • “I don’t see how it would benefit me.”
  • “It’s sissy to write in a ‘diary’ about my ‘feelings.’”

Do any of those sound like you?

I didn’t start journaling earlier because I subscribed to the no-time and no-benefit schools of thought. In short, I didn’t see any reason why I should bother.

Here’s what I have learned . . .

Journal Writing

Benefits of Writing In A Journal

These are the top 15 benefits I have experienced from writing in my journal every day, any one of which would be enough reason to continue.

1. It helps me remember things.

As I recently told my wife, whatshername, my memory is not as sharp as it once was. So I record information to preserve it.

2. It keeps me organized and focused.

My journal is where I post and keep track of my goals and where I monitor my progress toward achieving those goals.

3. It makes me accountable – to myself.

If I write in my journal that I’m going to do something, it’s like a written promise to myself. I have to prove to myself every day that I can consistently act on my commitments to others and to myself.

4. It’s a way to have a degree of immortality.

As I write my life story — essentially, that’s what a journal is — I am aware that my thoughts and ideas will live after me, instead of dying with me, simply because I recorded them. That’s a pretty cool thought.

5. It helps me be self-reflective.

By that, I mean that it organizes my thinking about myself, the world around me and my role in it.

6. It makes me more thoughtful.

Regular journaling forces me to look for the lessons of daily living. Generally, it makes me think more. And that’s never a bad thing!

7. It improves my writing.

The best way – by far – to learn to write better is to write. I thought I was a decent writer before I started writing in my journal, but I have seen dramatic improvement over the last year which I attribute to consistent journal writing.

8. It is a place where I record my ideas.

We all have them. Those brilliant ideas and insights that we mull for a few moments and then, in most cases, forget. Now, I’m more likely to record these gems for further consideration. (Of course some of these “thought diamonds” turn out to be cubic zirconia, but that’s ok, too.)

9. It’s a great place to work out problems.

Writing about your problems forces you to come to grips with them and leads to solutions.

10. It’s a great place to record my successes.

This is the flip side of working out problems. We all have successes, large and small. Now I write them down and savor them. It feels good.

11. I can measure my development over time.

Even in just one year, I can see great personal growth and development which I attribute to recording my goals and being accountable for taking regular, daily action to achieve them.

12. Writing in my journal is great way to reduce stress.

I feel better when I get it out, whatever “it” may be at that moment. In fact, there is a great deal of scientific research that validates my experience. Writing about problems is a recognized and valuable therapy technique. There is other research which shows that writing a journal improves your physical well-being, too.

13. I can sort out my feelings.

I don’t know if it’s a male thing or my particular personality, but I don’t spend a great deal of time ruminating about my feelings. I’m more focused on taking action and accomplishing things. However, there are times when writing to myself about my feelings, such as after my mother’s death, has been invaluable.

14. I record significant events in my life.

I want to remember things like when my children or other family members achieved various milestones, when loved ones died, when I had major business or personal accomplishments and what I was thinking at the time.

15. It’s a great place to keep track of the things I am grateful for.

A large body of recent research has shown that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships.

Closing Thoughts About Journals

In my next post, I will explain what things I record in my journal and how I structure it. I’m not suggesting that my journaling system is anything more than what works for me, but seeing an example might help you.

In the future, I intend to write about such journaling topics as:

  • Which format should you use for your journal, paper or electronic?
  • Should you review your journal; and, if so, how often?
  • How much time should you spend writing in your journal?
  • What are the best ways to make your journal searchable?
  • What are some common journal topics?

One more thing . . .

The idea of maintaining a daily journal forever is overwhelming. So don’t initially commit to forever. On the other hand, it takes a little time for the habit to be established and the benefits to be clear. My suggestion, therefore, is that you commit to a 30 day trial. Then evaluate and decide whether the benefits are worth the time.