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

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • The infinite possibility can get overwhelming

Journal Driven

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • 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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