If you want to start journalling, but you don’t know how to start, this post is for you. I’m going to show you my favourite journalling ideas. Then you’ll have three awesome techniques ready for whatever life throws at you.
Really, I could write a whole post about each of these. This is just going to be a quick introduction to the three journalling ideas that I keep coming back to. I love these, and use them every day.
The Morning Pages concept comes from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. This journalling technique isn’t just for those who consider themselves artists, though, it works for everyone.
The idea is to write three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness every morning, as soon as you wake up. It’s a way to clear the crap out of your mind and start the day with a clean slate.
the crap out of your mind, letting you start the day with a clean slate.
I shared more about my morning pages practice recently. I’ve been writing morning pages consistently for quite a long time now, and I have no intention of stopping. I love having this safe space to just vent about all the stuff that’s on my mind.
Before I started writing morning pages, I would get out of bed with my mind already racing. My head was full of things that didn’t really fit anywhere, but
Now I just put that stuff in my journal, set it aside, and get on with my day.
Morning pages can also help you get unstuck over particular issues. There’s nothing like writing complaints about the same old stuff day after day for motivating you into taking action.
There’s a bit of a theme here, the idea that our brains are all full of Too Much Stuff and we’re looking for ways to quiet the noise and help us focus properly.
The dump list is the perfect journalling idea for days when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You know, those times when you’re spinning your wheels and not really getting anything useful done.
The basic idea couldn’t be simpler. You get a piece of paper, or a journal, or an app in your phone, and you just make a massive list. There’s no need to put things in order. Don’t prioritise them. You don’t even have to think about how you’ll accomplish any of this yet.
Get everything out of your head and onto that paper.
Even if the list goes on for pages, just keep going. When you think you’ve finished, take a break and then come back to it again in half an hour, to see if there’s anything else you want to add.
Options for when you’ve finished your list:
- Do nothing – sometimes the act of writing the list is all you need to feel better about things. You’ll have cleared some space in your brain, and you’ll feel better able to go about your day knowing that that stuff is all written down if you need to find it again.
- Make a plan – if you’re really keen to take action to actually get those things done, then you need to do some sorting out and filtering. This is the job that highlighters were made for.
- Delete first: this is important! You just dumped a whole heap of stuff out of your head onto the page, and I’d be really surprised if it was all stuff you really needed to do. Get your pen, go through the list and just cross out as much as you can.
Categorise: it’s up to you how you do this. My favourite way is to focus on marking which things need to take top priority. If you need help with this, take a look at the Eisenhower Matrix. Grab a highlighter, and go through marking up the things you absolutely know you want to do,or have to do. Keep this list small, otherwiseyou’re buying yourself a one-way ticket back to the land of overwhelmagain.
- Break it down: once you’ve got a list of things you’re going to tackle, get those items into your chosen organisation system or to-do list. The trick here is to break things down into tasks you can actually do in one sitting. You need to give yourself the satisfaction of being able to check something off your list, and you can’t do that if everything is a huge, multi-step project rather than a single task
Really, though, the power of the dump list is just in getting the stuff out of your head and onto paper. Even if you don’t do anything with the list, you’ll still feel the benefits.
How do you currently keep yourself organised? Have you got a diary or planner that works for you and helps you keep track of everything?
If not, consider trying bullet journalling.
Any search for journalling ideas is going to lead you to bullet journalling eventually, it’s not a new concept, but its popularity seems to be exploding at the moment, and with good reason.
I’ve tried so many different things over the years, but this is the system that works best for me.
If you spend any time on Pinterest or Instagram, you’ve probably spotted at least a few beautiful bullet journals. It’s easy to look at those and feel like you couldn’t ever make something like that work for you. Especially if, like me, you’re not great at drawing.
It’s okay to keep it simple.
If you look at the original bullet journalling site, you’ll see that the method is a really simple, functional approach to planning. My bullet journal has more in common with Ryder Carroll’s examples than most of the examples on Pinterest. (Although, I still love to pin those beautiful pictures, just for inspiration). [tk embed board]..
I use an index page to help me find things easily, and a few ‘collections’ to help me keep track of things – a birthday list, for example. The bulk of my bullet journal pages are just the things that pop up each day that I need to take action on.
One of the best things about bullet journalling is that it’s so forgiving. If something isn’t working out, all you have to do is turn the page and try something different. When life gets in the way and you find you’ve been off the bujo wagon for a week or two, just turn the page and start over. Not having the dates laid out like in a conventional planner means that you can take as much space as you need.
The index comes in handy for things like notes on speech therapy appointments, or lists related to a specific project. Just flip to a blank spread, give it a title, and put it in the index so you can find it later. It’s so helpful to be able to find notes from previous appointments quickly and easily.
I also love having everything in the one notebook. Having a separate journal for each project might seem like a good idea, until you find yourself in a meeting with only your home DIY project book with you. A bullet journal means that you always have everything you need with you.
Great Tools Only Work if You Use Them.
It sounds obvious, but having these journalling ideas under your belt is no good unless you actually train yourself to use them. Like any amazing tool, it’s not enough just to have it, you have to get good at using it, and at remembering to use it, so that it works when you need it.
If you don’t have any of these habits in place right now, then start small. Just pick one of these journalling techniques and commit to making it a regular practice.