When I was in high school, I kept a journal at my English teacher’s request. I thought this would be another boring exercise in writing, but I grew to love journaling. I started writing so fast that my penmanship ultimately suffered (see my photo below for an example!). I pledged to myself that I would continue journaling as a way to remember what I was thinking over the years.
Unfortunately, time and life happened, and I failed to keep a journal for many years. When I started my business, I wanted to keep track of my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. When I was on vacation with my family in June 2012, I decided to start journaling again.
Journaling is one of my day’s real highlights! I take time away from the demands on me and let my thoughts flow. I do not think. I just start writing. I sometimes write two or three times a day if I get particularly interesting thoughts. I do not write for long periods of time, but I make sure I take at least 15 minutes every day to journal.
I will discuss different ways to journal in an upcoming blog post. I want to take this post to highlight the four benefits I’ve found through my new journaling.
- Writing gets ideas out of your head – Your mind is a dangerous tool. The mind can do so many great things for us, but we tend to trust it too much. The average human attention span is only eight seconds. A goldfish’s average attention span is nine seconds! If we do not capture our ideas in written form, we will lose them. Writing a journal helps you move your ideas out of your head and onto paper.
- You must think about what is going on around you – Michael Hyatt wrote a fantastic blog post on why journaling is important to him. I love his idea of how journaling provides context to your life. When I sit down to journal, I think about my life as whole. I do not just write about business topics or family topics. My journal contains everything from political rants I don’t want to share on Facebook to what I observe about my children. My journal provides me with a sense of context.
- You can “connect the dots” of your life – This point is related to point #2 above. Our best ideas often come when we take two seemingly unconnected events and join them together. I scan my journals to identify patterns in my writing. These ideas may result in a new product or book idea. You must understand a topic deeply to be an expert, but the best ideas come from connecting the dots that don’t seem to relate.
- It creates a system of generating and recording ideas – I am always looking to simplify how I generate and record ideas. I try a lot of tools and apps to keep me organized, but a journal is one place I can always go when I need a new idea. Depending on my mood and location, I use a Ecosystem notebook (affiliate link) for handwritten journaling. I use the DayOne app (Mac App Store and iTunes links) when I want to type my journals. In any case, my journals end up in an Evernote notebook simply called Journals. This way, I eventually have my journaling in one location.
Journaling is a great way to record your ideas, thoughts, and feelings as you go through life. I only wish I had kept journaling as I finished high school and continued life. It is a great investment of time for my life. How can you use journaling to make things happen in your business and life?
Photo from Curt Fleenor via Flickr Creative Commons
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