Beware Of Your Attention

Attention + Time = Progress

I’ve mentioned this formula in a couple of different places, in a couple of different ways. This formula occurred to me almost a year ago while I was journaling.

Everyone is always talking about time, in fact the main cornerstone of most productivity material out there is on the management and better use of your time.

It’s all about getting more done, more efficiently.

The other half of that equation though is mostly ignored.

How Attention Affects Time

In determining quality of time, you have to consider what you’re paying attention to, not how much you got done.

In short, being more efficient at doing to the wrong things isn’t progress.

As an example for the good majority of my young life I spent a lot of time playing video games. This is what I had considered “Quality Time”, and time paying attention to video games was time that I was happy.

However, excessive gaming is a negative sum game. When overdone the value it creates is far outweighed by its detriments.

With the amount of time and focus spent playing games instead of my finances, relationships, work, or future, my life steadily declined.

Once I reversed this, my quality of life has been on a steady increase, and I’m every day excited about what the future will bring.

We all have the same 24 hours each day, but it’s what we pay focus on during those hours that determine the quality of our lives.

What To Pay Attention To

For me, big progress was made by simply removing what was taking me off course. Namely how much time I was spending paying attention to entertainment technology.

Then, I started paying attention to bigger picture things.

Simply paying attention to these things lead to ideas, ideas lead to plans, plans lead to action, action lead to rewards.

For you, take account of not necessarily how much time you spend on things, but what you’re paying attention to. Are you paying attention to things that grow you or debilitate you?

As an example, my goal is not only to grow myself but others as well, so I’m paying my undivided attention to this post to help people such as yourself out in valuing your attention.

Defending Your Attention

One of the major dangers of the modern world is the demands for our attention.

This is discussed in detail in The Four Agreements, but in short we are trained to give away our attention, along with our time, with no thought on its true value.

As we grow older, we continue freely giving it away.

This is the fundamental wisdom in learning how to say “No”. When you say no you are protecting your attention and your time.

Specifically however, there are new threats to our attention.

Studies have found that adults spend about 8.5 hours per day watching screens. Let’s be gracious and say that 75% of the time is spent doing productive, life enriching things. That means that on average 2.125 hours each day are spent doing things that don’t contribute to life, and are likely negative-sum time.

How much time is that per year? 775.625 hours, that’s 32.31 days.

Running on some assumptions here, but let’s let sink in that the average person spends a whole month each year paying attention to things that either do nothing for them, or actually makes their lives worse.

Using 80/20 thinking, we can assume that “80% of the destructive time is from 20% of what you’re paying attention to”.

That said, there’s likely one thing that you can subtract from your life that can make a huge difference.

For me it was regular exposure to internet and video games. What could it be for you?

Take Your Attention Back

Right now, you’re paying attention to my blog post.

Once you’re done reading it, you will likely turn your attention to something else. Like a book, a project, work, or even your journal.

In short though, this is one of the deep values of a journal. It gives you space to pay attention to yourself. Unlike a screen where everything you do is tracked and sold to the highest bidder and advertisements are always seeking to rob your attention from you, your journal is for you and you alone.

No tech company, no matter how successful and powerful, can try to rob your attention in the form of notifications or disruptive advertising.

Get your attention focused on you, you’ll be shocked what it will bring.

Thanks for reading, take care!


Completing Your Day

Over the past few weeks I’ve been really digging into something that’s brought some big changes. You see, one of the primary ways I use my journal is as a task manager to keep track of things.

I’ve incorporated into my task tracking not only what needs to be done, but also what matters. Because of this I’ve started to see some huge rewards from my Journal.

Creating Space For Leisure

I just recently put up a new prompt titled “What Would Complete My Day?”, and it is game changing.

It has become my very first prompt of the day, because without filling this out you can’t possibility know what to focus on.

This is a reflective prompt, that when used along with a good set of organizational prompts allows you to do something quite outstanding, which is “Completing” your day.

Completing your day “unlocks” your day, and opens it up to more life-living activities and gives you space to think. It creates leisure, and the ability to operate more freely.

So of course, the sooner you complete what’s important, the sooner your day becomes open to you.

“Completing” vs “Finishing” your Day

Up until this point I operated on “I have x hours in the day, so I’m going to get as much done as possible in those hours”.

Did I get a lot done? Yes, of course.

Did I finish each day feeling accomplished? Heck no.

This sucked. I’d work long and hard each day and feel that I had very little accomplished or fulfillment from all that effort.

However as the 80/20 rule states “80% of output is created by 20% of the input”.

In other words, there are only a very few things that actually matter. In this case “Tasks” would be the input and “Fulfillment” will be the output. 80% of the days fulfillment will be created by 20% of the days tasks completed.

Completing that 20% completes your day. You’re done. That 20% is of course defined by figuring out what will complete your day.

Finishing your day, on the other hand, is what happens when you go home.

Everybody finishes their days eventually, whether it’s 5pm, 8pm, or midnight. Very few however seem to “Complete Their Day”. I’ve found that if a day is incomplete you can’t shut up your mind when you try to go to bed, so it’s easy to know if you’re doing the right things or not.

Busting The Productivity Myth

In the end, what this really did for me was break a lot of my preconceptions as to what productivity was.

I always thought that the art of productivity was the ability to do more in less time.

Going to our basic equation of accomplishment: Attention + Time = Progress, we know that time is good, and it’s great to do more in less time, but our attention is a factor too.

What we pay attention to makes progress, and it’s great to get more done. But there is something very important that isn’t directly considered in this equation.

Paying attention to things, over time, costs energy. This puts a cap on what we can accomplish.

To me, productivity was this magic bullet that made paying attention to things over time more efficient, so that I used less energy. This is however only half the truth.

There’s no sense in being efficient at doing the wrong things.

This has caused me to conclude that an unproductive person that does the right things is far more effective than a super productive person who tries to do everything.

Since I’ve started completing my days, my stress level has dropped and I’m starting to balance out my weeks a lot more. I hope you can do the same.

That about does it for this blog post. Let me know what you think!

Take care!


Your Free Time Companion

In my last post I talked about the difference between free time and play time. Like me, you might discover that what you thought was “free time” was in fact very stimulated play time.

It’s easy to fall into the default mode of streaming shows, checking social media, or playing video games. But when you make a commitment to give yourself space with its simple removal, it’s typically not enough.

You don’t want your time to be filled by nonsense, so you have to give it purpose.

Filling The Space

As an example, I’ve been working hard on trying to reduce my spending in coffee shops. Sure, I’d be successful for a little while, but I’d get sucked back into spending my money at these cafes.

My intent was originally try to save the money, but I do that already. 10% of every dollar I earn goes into my savings account. In my mind that money was available and my default place to spend it was at cafes.

It then occurred to me to try something different. I have a friend who is a massage therapist, and I vowed that when I have more income that I’d start using her services. Dream as I might that income never really seemed to make itself available.

It then hit me that for the money I spend in cafes I can see her almost twice a month.

Now when I’m tempted to buy a drink all I just think “nope, I’ve committed myself to massages instead”.

This has a strong social effect too. I now know that buying those drinks would have a negative impact on my ability to afford my friends services. With a well defined negative consequence I’m far less likely to buy a drink.

Filling Play Time With Free Time

Same as with the cafe drinks, you need to define your over-indulgent play time and replace it. Simply trying to remove it isn’t enough.

For instance if you spend a great deal of time watching shows it’s vital that the time is replaced. If kept open you’ll end up just watching shows again.

This is where a journal can be your best friend.

When you have free time your journal can for a very small investment of time help give you the mental space needed to find a viable replacement for the activity you’re trying to avoid. The alternative is that you will fall back on exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

A think on paper titled “What can I do today that would be really meaningful to me” would take you miles ahead. It can be a very powerful thing to do when you find your time free.

Once you define what you can do today ( Yes, TODAY, not tomorrow, not next week ) that would be really meaningful to you, go ahead and do it!

Keeping it in context of today keeps it actionable. Keep this up and you might even establish new, more meaningful habits for yourself.

Keep Things Balanced

It’s important to note that you need to keep yourself balanced. Play time is just as vital as free time, but can easily overpower free time.

Your body has gotten used to your habits of checking social media, watching shows and such, this is fine. What isn’t fine though is being so caught up in these things you can’t invest in yourself. You need to be able to define, regularly, what really means something to you.

So as a reward for giving yourself free time, don’t be afraid to give yourself some play time. But only after give yourself the attention you deserve.

That does it for today’s post! If you have any thoughts or ideas about this subject be sure to leave a comment. This stuff is really exciting and has brought a lot of value to me, and I hope it brings you value too.

Let me know!


Get Bored

I go to the Flint Farmers Market several times a week to visit family. This week I had a great conversation with my cousin.

About a week ago we had a tornado and while she was trying to rush her boys all to the basement she noticed one of them was dragging their feet, with their eyes glued to their phone.

At that moment she realized that he felt the phone was more important than this life or death situation they were in. She then started restricting their time with technology.

It has been rough, but she has noticed good things coming from it. For instance family time has been happening more.

This conversation lead to the topic of this article.

I had been pondering this article for a while, and offered her some of its core ideas, namely that there is a lot of value in boredom because it gives you space to give life a good think, and start asking questions that maybe needed to be asked.

Her response, and contribution to this article, I felt was very well thought out and wise.

Free Time vs Play Time

My cousin started talking about free time and the value that it brings, during the conversation however it became clear that we had differing definitions of what free time really was.

My definition was time to do whatever you wanted, and it was an old definition that I carried with me since childhood. During that time all of my free time was spent playing video games. This made free time and video games practically synonymous.

Her definition, however, was much healthier.

“Free time is time that I have that is free from all other things.”

Well, can’t argue with that.

I asked her about time spent with her phone or watching TV.

“That’s play time, because I’m spending time enjoying myself.”

The Value of Boredom

In my early days of experimenting with living without internet in my home I got bored really fast. In hindsight, this boredom is really what brought the most value to me.

While sitting there bored, I discovered…

  • I had plenty of time in the world, I was just wasting it
  • I did not spend enough time thinking about myself
  • A lot of my anxiety rooted simply in not taking the time to address and process my own feelings

These amazing realizations would have never come to pass if I continued staying hooked to the internet while home.

It’s of course not that these realizations are particularly deep, they are actually quite obvious. It’s just taking the time to sit down with nothing demanding your attention and let your brain naturally focus on processing what is troubling it.

This is the value of free time, of which boredom is a risk.

Every day I force myself to get a little bored for a while, and during these times my journal has become my most trusted companion.

With a journal in front of you and a bored mind, you can’t help but process your life and figure out what’s important to you.

In Closing

Being bored can be a very rough thing to deal with, and make us very uncomfortable. With today’s technology however it’s easier and easier to occupy a bored mind. This is not good.

Give yourself the space you deserve, take some free time. Maybe try out a new prompt. Afterwards reward yourself with some play time.

Thanks for reading! Take care!


Pay Attention To Yourself

Today, I learned how important it is to pay attention to yourself. I’m currently re-reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown and I left off on a pretty amazing chapter this morning. I’m going to recount the story, but bear in mind I’m paraphrasing based on my memory. To get it in more detail definitely check out this book.

Greg dives into what he calls “The Asset”, and shares the story of a high performing executive who suddenly found that sleep did not come easy to him.

He would wake up in the middle of the night, like he was having an anxiety attack but without the anxiety. His body would feel the effects and he would just about fall apart.

After several emergency room visits he finally sat down and had a serious discussion with his doctor. His doctor recommended removing all stressful things from his life and take at least a year off. The alternative was he would be taking medication for the rest of his life.

The executive said he would take a few months off, and be back at it.

This did not happen however, because that first month he slept 14 hours a day and most days could barely get out of bed.

In the second month he admitted this would take a longer time than he thought.

A few years later this executive was doing a talk and was ask to recount his memory of this incident. He shared the value of “Protecting The Asset”.

In all that we do our great assets aren’t what we own, know, or even what we are capable of. Our greatest asset is ourselves.

Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An investment of knowledge always pays the best interest”. What’s foundational below even the knowledge is your body and your health. Both mental and physical.

Your Journal Focuses You Onto You

It’s great to think of journaling as exercise for the mind, and a habit that can give you space to focus on yourself for a moment.

In designing your spreads and working on yourself you’re able to make sure that the foundations of your life is being taken care of.

I’ve recently started limiting what my computer and phone are capable of. Such as limiting colors to black and white, blocking youtube, and tearing out unnecessary apps and programs.

In striving to gather too much, we lose space to focus on ourselves. This very blog post is an act of focusing on what is important to me instead of doing what youtube or a video game would want of me.

In Closing

I’m building GoJournaling to be something that is really meaningful and helpful to people. At the core, focusing on yourself is the goal of GoJournaling.

I hope you can take the time to really reflect and decide what it is you need to be happy.

Thank you for reading, take care!


Should You Make A Mistake In Your Journal?

When you make a mistake it can be really frustrating.

Having something you really care about, that you use over a long period of time, get screwed up.

It can be as simple as you smearing some ink, or even accidentally ripping your journals binding.

Especially when you start getting artistic with it, and that pretty spread is all of the sudden marred by a misplaced speck of ink.

You know what a really fun concept is though?

Failing Faster

This is a concept typically used in project development, especially in the realm of software and games. The idea is very simple:

The further along in development a mistake is made, the more expensive it is to fix it.

The key take away here is understanding that creatives and project developers aim to make mistakes as soon as possible.

In short, they become good at making mistakes. But even more important, they become really good at learning from them.

I have a friend who really enjoys watercolor, reason being that she sees mistakes in a different light than most people I know.

She says that watercolor is a very difficult medium because it’s very unforgiving, that when you make a mistake there is no covering it up, all you can do is work with it.

She compares it to life, and sees life as a single canvas you are always painting on, but can never swap out or replace.

We’re going to make mistakes anyways, how can we make them our friends?

Making Mistakes Eloquently

Making mistakes well is a learned skill, and one that can be safely practiced in a journal.

Let’s take a moment however to define what a mistake is, which I’ll simply pull from Google.


  1. an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong. “coming here was a mistake”

This definition is direct enough, but we can do better!

This definition implies that if something is “misguided”, then something can be “guided”. But how do you guide something?

It’s simple, you have to have something to guide yourself to.

You have to become absolutely clear about the result you’re looking for. Then you decide whether the action is helping you achieve that result… or not.

If you’re not clear about what your result is everything is a mistake. You don’t have any guidelines or criteria to check your actions against!

If you haven’t already, dedicate a page in your journal to writing about what you want from it.

Once decided, every day you can evaluate your actions in your journal and decide whether or not what you’ve done correlates with what you want from it.

You can track this using a daily prompt such as what I learned today.

So next time you mar your journal, make sure to ask yourself this simple question: Does this “mistake” really affect what I want to get out of my journal?

If not, you can rest easy knowing that you did not lose progress that day.

That does it for today’s post, if you haven’t already be sure to check out the prompt database for new and interesting prompts to check out.

Don’t let your mistakes hold you back, there’s a world of value you can bring not only in spite of, but because of those mistakes.

Take care!


Goal Setting Using The Inbetween Method

Having a goal is very important.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, for all the silliness he represents and how over the top his movies are, is very passionate about achievement.

He worked out 6 hours a day never missing a beat, while working a job in construction while going to school for acting. He pushed himself to the extreme and accomplished things for fun that most people would consider impossible dreams.

Here’s an abridged list of what he has accomplished:

  • Champion Body Builder
  • Power-lifting Champion
  • Movie Celebrity, played in countless roles
  • Governor of California
  • Real Estate Investor

Arnold did all this because he understood the power of goal setting and goal achievement.

There are many methods out there to plan out how to achieve your goal, Arnolds focus is on working your butt off and make sure it’s working towards something.

For myself, I always liked having a plan. It was back in college that I borrowed a tool used in animation as a foundation for how I plan my goals.

How Animators Animate

In the field of animation, there is a method called “Tweening”, or “Inbetweening”.

The method is quite simple, and is used to create animation and movement.

As an example, let’s follow the method and animate a ball rolling across the floor.

Frame 1, we know where we are starting ( Where we are at )
Frame 1, we know where we are starting ( Where we are at )
Fame 2, we know where we want to be ( The Goal )
Frame 2, we know where we want to be ( The Goal )

We’ve got established where we are starting, the ball is on the left, and we want to make the ball be on the right, and create the illusion of movement while doing so.

Using our imbetween method, we draw what the inbetween step would be before the ball ends up to the right.

With our beginning and end defined, we can figure out what's inbetween them
With our beginning and end defined, we can figure out what’s inbetween them

Let’s now see what it looks like so far.

With our start and our end defined, we now "kinda" have an animation.
With our start and our end defined, we now “kinda” have an animation.

As we can see however, it looks choppy, unrefined. So you know what we do?

The same thing we just did, we add some steps inbetween what we’ve already got. Doing this we get two more frames.

Inbetween the start and our middle
Inbetween the start and our middle
Inbetween our middle and our end
Inbetween our middle and our end

Put it all together and you get this:

Final Animation

Much more smooth.

Inbetweening for Goal Setting

As with our ball, we define where we are at and where we want to be.

Defining your starting point

This is crucial, you need to be totally honest with yourself with where you’re at in contrast to where you want to be. It’s easy to protect the ego and say “it’s not as bad as it seems” or “well I did do this and this”. No no no…

You have to be crystal clear on where you are at.

For instance, let’s say you want to own a car.

You would not say “Well, since I can drive my friend/family/parents car I technically have a car”.

No, the fact is you don’t have a car, and the result you are looking for is to have one to call your own.

Let’s say after much thought you’ve decided that your starting point is simply “I don’t have a car”.

Defining your goal

Once again, we need to define with crystal clarity where you want to be or what it is you want to accomplish.

As with defining your starting point you need to be crystal clear, and don’t let substitutions distract you from it.

After some contemplation you’re crystal clear on “Owning a car”.

Making your plan

We’ve defined your starting and ending positions:

  1. I do not own a car
  2. Own a car

Next, let’s use the inbetween method to come up with a reasonable halfway point between where you’re at and your goal.

  1. I do not own a car
  2. Have half the cars down payment in money set aside
  3. Own a car

Okay, that’s better, but let’s inbetween again, work out the feasible halfway points between these three items.

  1. I do not own a car
  2. Secure a source of income
  3. Have half the cars down payment in money set aside
  4. Sit down with a car dealer and discuss options
  5. Own a car

One more time…

  1. I do not own a car
  2. Do some job hunting
  3. Secure a source of income
  4. Start putting aside $300 per month
  5. Have half the cars down payment in money set aside
  6. Have enough for a down payment
  7. Sit down with a car dealer and discuss options
  8. Decide what I can pay each month for a loan
  9. Own a car

You can see within 3 iterations of using this method we have a pretty feasible plan for obtaining a goal. The best part is that it’s already in a step-by-step order!

Started with the starting point at the top of the page, and where we want to be at the bottom, then just filled the rest in between

What do you want to achieve?

Take some time to apply this, really think about where you want to be and use this method to create a step by step plan on how to achieve it.

Using your journal you can track progress, and use it to continue to inspire you to keep at it. A prompt such as Grand Goal can help you keep focused and working toward achieving whatever you want to achieve.

This method has worked quite well for me for the past 8 years, and I hope you get as much value out of it as I did.


Defending Your Journal

Keeping a journal safe can be quite a challenge.

Not keeping it private, but keeping it alive. The struggles to keep to journaling can be a real battle.

The time can pass by so quick, and it’s so easy to just say “screw it”. Energy levels aren’t the only threat however.

In my experience, these are the most dangerous threats to your journal.

Energy ( Or Lack Thereof )

In the beginning, you’ve haven’t yet experienced how energising a journal really is. Because of this it can feel like you’re being wasteful by keeping a journal.

You come home tired, or you got up on the wrong end of the bed, regardless it just feels like the journal weighs 1000 pounds.

The solution: understanding that in the long run you are saving energy.

Over time as you write down your thoughts you are unloading your brain and saving it from carrying scattered, incoherent thoughts. This leads to much better well being and focused thinking.

Consciously understanding this of course is not enough, so try these tips:

  • Write smaller, but more meaningful entries
  • Set a timer, keep your time spent writing at about 10 minutes or less
  • Grab a simple, easy to answer prompt

Lack Of Inspiration

This one is a tough one, equivalent to writers block. You’re sitting there, staring at the page, frozen by blank page syndrome.

Journaling isn’t a smooth experience anymore, it’s rigid. It has to be right. We don’t want to mess up and taint this representation of ourselves.

The solution: Relax, and simply write about why you started journaling in the first place.

Don’t be afraid of writing the same thing every day ( otherwise known as focus prompts ), this keeps your mind on a path that you set, and allows you to relax as you focus on your journal.

These tips can help you overcome a lack of inspiration:

  • If you don’t know what to write about, write about what you think you should be writing about ( sounds silly, but it works )
  • Draw a silly doodle if your journal is open to it
  • Have a set of daily prompts that you use everyday

Fear of Messing Up

This can be the most daunting one of all, because just look at what journaling is promoted to be:

This is a screenshot of “Bullet Journaling” posts on Pinterest

These are beautiful journals, and it would be awesome to make our journals look like this! So we take our time with the inks, the pencils and the markers. We make it colourful and creative…

Then we slip.

Bam, our masterpiece has a flaw that we will see every time we look at the page.

The solution: Don’t stress about making things “perfect”

The real value in your journal isn’t how pretty it is, it’s how it supports your brain in thinking better. Designs that are promoted like this are wonderful, and the people who make them are very talented people.

For most of us though, this level of artistic investment just isn’t practical. And that’s okay.

Stick to content and getting value from your journal, or if you want to keep things pretty stickers/tape might be a good way to dress up your journal without too much energy.

These tips can help you alleviate the stress of a journal.

  • Stick to consistent, daily prompts so you’re doing the same thing every day
  • Understand that the “slip ups” are part of the quirk of your journal, and that it’s the activity, not the result, the makes the journal yours
  • Learn that your unique look is special to you, and deserves your appreciation

In closing, your journal is going to be threatened by many things. There are a lot of temptations out there that will make you want to put your journal down.

But stick to it! Even in as little as a month of journaling you will find great results.

– Devon

So, I hear your handwriting sucks…

As a young lad it was quite common for my teacher to write “focus on your handwriting” and other similar things on my assignments.

I was the worst though, it always felt like I couldn’t write the words fast enough! This resulted in some pretty sloppy handwriting.

However, in this one writing assignment, something magical happened. I don’t even remember the word, but I wrote the most perfect “o” I had ever seen.

That’s right, I was super stoked about a perfectly circular “o” that I had written down, perfectly on the line, perfectly sized. It was beautiful! After always being told that I could do better with my handwriting it felt like there was hope for me.

But being the video game loving kid I was I forgot about it as soon as I went home and played Zelda.

I still think back to it from time to time though, it’s that one time I was actually happy with my handwriting.

Fast forward a couple of years and these things called “computers” get introduced and suddenly handwriting doesn’t matter quite so much. I get into art, programming, anything I possibility could on the computer.

This may or may not have been partially motivated to avoid having to deal with my neanderthallic penmanship. On the computer I wasn’t crippled by this “handicap” I was told I had. It was common for me to have to redo assignments because of my handwriting.

When I started journaling years later, I fortunately learned that in your own journal penmanship really doesn’t matter. In fact, my penmanship has “improved” since I started journaling.

By “improved”, I mean from the outside it’s became marginally more readable.

But more importantly I grew to accept and even enjoy my unique penmanship.

Let’s think about this though, what a shame it is that we might avoid learning how to journal because we are afraid to look at our own writing!

When I first started journaling, it was a bold step for me. I felt I had to write so carefully to make sure it was perfect.

After some time though, I realised that even on days I was sloppy I was able to go back and read it. So instead I just focused putting down quality entries and responses to prompts.

While you could journal for better handwriting, it’s certainly not the best reason to journal. The goal of journaling should be to improve how you think, not how you write. Thinking precedes writing.

So be sloppy! No one is judging you but yourself ( don’t do that ) when you write in your journal. Let yourself write freely and be honest.

All that really matters is that you can read it.

Your handwriting is unique to you, and deserves expression! Own it, and over time it will come to support you.

Journaling Tips: Balancing Technology With Paper for Tasks

Balancing Technology

With all the information technology available these days the possibilities for how to organize your life has become endless. In that little screen called your phone there is an infinite canvas that can be organized into an infinite number of dimensions.

However, with infinite possibilities comes infinitely increased difficulty of choice.

You only have so much mental energy each day, and with each decision you deplete it little by little.

Therefor if your time is always spent in a space of infinite choice, it’s nearly impossible to focus and narrow down what’s truly important.

This is where the value of journaling comes in.

Striking That Balance

The fundamental issue is this: In Technology you have infinite canvas with the ability to do an infinite number of things, but your time and energy is not infinite. Given this, you need something to balance this, something that is finite in nature that can only hold so much.

This is the value of a journal.

Your journal represents what you’re focused on, what you’re doing at this time. Accomplishment comes when a task is focused on until completion, not when your focus is scattered among infinite tasks.

So where to strike that balance? What is the best approach?

To start, here is a summary of technology driven and journal driven task management and what their benefits are.

Technology Driven


  • Infinite Canvas Size
  • Infinite ways to organize data
  • Great for long term planning and development


  • The infinite possibility can get overwhelming

Journal Driven


  • Directly writing in your journal builds a direct connection in your mind
  • Limited page space creates focus
  • Great for day to day work


  • Long term planning can be difficult to handle well on paper

So the big question, which method is best? Why a combination of the two of course!

We live in an age where we have tools that our ancestors never even dreamed of, so it’s foolish to eliminate either when we can get them both working together.

I made the primary benefits of each in bold, so we can use both together in this way:

Do all your long term planning and task management in a technology system, then use your journal for the short term stuff so you can focus.

Think of it this way, you have a bookshelf full of your favorite books. Can you read all of your books at once?

You can read one, then another, and bounce around, but it’s impossible to read all of your books at the same time. It’s also a terrible way to read your books since you will get in a lot of reading but you’re unlikely to finish any of them.

At most, you will take a few books down and keep them on a stand next to your reading chair. When you sit down and read you then focus on whichever catches your fancy.

In this way, think of your technology system as your “library” of tasks that you want to get done. Your journal then represents your stand next to your chair with the books you’re currently reading.

An Example

As an example I’ll explain the system I’m using at the time of writing this article.

Using an app called Todoist, I’m able to log tasks as they come to mind, all I do is tap the Todoist widget on my home screen.

Todoist Example

I’m then able to log the task into Todoist, where it will sit until I’m ready to address it.

At the beginning of each week, I look over everything I did the previous week and move over anything that fell through the cracks using my Weekly Modules. Once I move all these tasks over I typically find that there is plenty of room to add more things that I can try to do that week.

So, I go to Todoist, and I look over my tasks which are organized into projects ( or not ) and I decide what I’m going to focus on that week by copying them over to my journal.

I then don’t look at my tasks in Todoist again until the following week, and focus on completing what I have written in my journal.

Rinse and repeat.

In this way I am systematically getting things done. Being overwhelmed doesn’t exist, because I know that having a lot only means that it will take more time for me to get to some things.

What works for you?

Now, that works for me. However you are a unique and special person, and will need a system as unique as you are. What I’ve explained is the basics however, and you can use it to compile a system that fits you.

That about does it! If you haven’t already signed up go do so to get your GoJournaling Companion and learn how to get the most out of the Modules on this site.

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