Journaling is an excellent daily practice that can benefit you in a number of ways, including mentally and physically. It is something that is easy to do, doesn’t require a big investment, and is a good option for everyone.
The problem is that it does require writing, which might be the very last thing you are interested in. You might find writing to be boring, tedious, or just difficult to do. This can make it seem impossible to get all the benefits from journaling.
However, you couldn’t be more wrong! Journaling is for everyone – even people who hate to write. The following information will provide a simple guide to allow you to start using a journal on a daily basis, without feeling like you are doing homework every time you have to write in it.
You are going to learn about:
- Finding the Right Time to Write
- Turning Journaling Into a Daily Routine
- Choose Your Favorite Medium
- Start with Fun and Interesting Journaling Prompts
- Ignore the Rules of Spelling and Grammar
- Keep Your Journal Private and Secure
- Start with a Simple Type of Journaling
Keep reading to learn more about journaling, why it is effective, and how anyone can do it, even people who are not big fans of writing in general.
- Find the Right Time to Write
Finding time to write in your journal every day is hard enough for anyone, including people who enjoy writing. However, if you find writing to be a chore right now, finding the time is even harder for you. Luckily, there are a few little tricks that will help you discover the best moments to write during the day, and will actually help you enjoy the process a little more.
When is it Most Convenient to Write?
The first thing to ask yourself when you are trying to figure out when to write in your journal is when it is most convenient for you. Remember that you don’t have to write in your journal in bed at night before sleep just because you know others who choose this method. There are so many places and times that might be more convenient for you.
Think about the times when you might have a little downtime, when you tend to just browse Instagram on your phone, or when you are waiting for someone. These are the perfect moments when you can write in your journal for just a few minutes. Here are some examples:
While waiting for your kids– There are probably many times when you are waiting for your kids, whether you are sitting at their school waiting for them to get out, or your son or daughter is being seen by the dentist while you are in the waiting room. This is another great way to fit in some writing time.
If you arrive early to work– Say you get to work 5-10 minute early one day, and while you typically use this time to start work early or browse Pinterest on your phone, you get out your journal instead. Not only are you making good use of those extra few minutes, but your journaling for the day is finished early in the morning and you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. Plus, journaling in the morning is a great way to start your day right and have the perfect mindset for increased productivity.
When you are enjoying the park– Have you decided to go to the park for the day, either to get some fresh air or bring your dogs for a little exercise? You can easily pack your journal in your bag or purse and get a few minutes of writing done while your dog is running around the park and having fun making friends with other pups.
Find Your ‘Magic’ Writing Time
You may also want to find the best writing time based on your own motivation and mindset. For some people, writing comes naturally and they are able to do it easily any place, any time. But if you are someone that really doesn’t like writing much, even in your journal, you need to find those moments when it is a little easier.
There are likely times of the day when you feel a little more creative and tend to jot notes down or get ideas for your business. This is a hint that it is when you are ready to write in your journal as well. Experiment a little by journaling during different times of the day and figure out when you enjoy it most. This might be in the morning before you head to work, during your lunch break, when you head to the beach for the day, or in the evenings before bed.
The Time of Day When There Are No Distractions
For people who find it hard to be motivated to write in a journal every day, it takes a little more prep work to choose the time of day when it is most convenient. The trick for you might not be just when you have a few extra minutes to write, but when you don’t have distractions. If you are someone who requires a little more concentration to write, then you might want to pick a time during the day when you don’t have a lot of outside distractions.
Are you a parent? If so, you may prefer writing in the early morning when your kids are still in bed, or after your kids and spouse have left for the day.
Do you run your own business? Perhaps you need to shut your office door and keep people out for a few minutes a day while you write in your journal.
Are you a night owl? If you tend to be up late at night, then you should have plenty of opportunities in the evening when it is quiet to get some extra journaling done.
If you tend to have a busy schedule when there aren’t really these handy times where you don’t have as many distractions, then you will need to create them. Close the door to your home office to tell others they need to give you a few minutes of peace, or wake up a few minutes early to write in the morning.
Taking a Break? Time to Write
Lastly, take advantage of the moments when you are trying to take a break from other activities. These tend to be good times to get your journal out and write in it. Remember you don’t need to have perfect spelling, worry about what you are writing about, or force yourself to write a certain amount each day. Journaling is not meant to be a chore or an assignment, but something you find beneficial for you.
Set a timer or don’t, write about what you want, or just jot down your to-do list or what you got done during the day. Any writing is better than no writing.
- Turning Journaling Into a Daily Routine
Now that you know a little more about how to find the right time to write in your journal and really honing in on when you have the mindset for writing, let’s take it one step further. For someone who finds writing to be tedious or downright torturous, you might not find this to be enough motivation to journal. However, there is hope for you too.
What you want to do is just turn journaling into part of your everyday routine. It becomes something you know you have to do every day, like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, going to work, and cooking breakfast. You schedule it each day and try to perform it around the same time each day so that you can get it out of the way and move on.
Add Journaling to Your To-Do List
Are you a big fan of the to-do list? Write it down! Every morning, when you are working on the to-do list for that day, write down that you need to journal for a certain number of minutes or pages, and cross it off when you’re done. You now feel more accomplished by taking care of something that isn’t necessarily your favorite activity.
Write it in Your Calendar
Another way to make it part of your daily routine is to add it to your calendar. Whether you have a digital calendar, wall calendar, or use something like a planner or bullet journal, you can add it to your monthly calendar by writing in journaling every day or however often you want to write in it. This allows you another way to remind you to journal and have it be a priority.
- Choose Your Favorite Medium
The great thing about journaling, aside from the long list of mental and physical benefits, is that it is easy and convenient. This includes being versatile, offering many options for you. There are dozens of forms of journaling, different writing utensils to use, and of course the option between writing with pen and paper, or digital journaling. All of it is fine!
The most important thing is that you start journaling regularly, preferably every day, in whatever way works best for you. Choosing your favorite medium is a great way to encourage more journal writing, even when it isn’t your favorite thing to do.
Writing with Pen and Paper
The first option of course is to write with pen and paper. Journaling doesn’t have to use some fancy, leather-bound journal and an expensive pen. You can write with anything you want, whether it is a pen, pencil, or even colored pencils if you want to make it fun and creative. Here are some things to consider when journaling the old-fashioned way:
Get a Journal You Enjoy Using– To start with, think about the type of journal you are using. It doesn’t matter what it looks like or how much it cost, but that it is something you personally would enjoy writing in. This is where it is worth looking around a bit until you find the perfect one. Some people prefer hardbound journals, while others like the soft, flexible journals. Look around until you find one that makes you say “Yes!”
Don’t Forget About Notebooks– There is absolutely no reason you can’t use a regular notebook as your journal. Writing isn’t about having the “perfect” journal. This is your experience, so it should be your choice. If you are used to taking notes in a certain type of notebook, by all means use it!
Try Out Different Pens– What you choose to write with also makes a big difference. If you are someone that just does not like to write, then it might all come down to the pen. Pens aren’t cheap, but experimenting and trying a few different types might keep you from being annoyed with the pen you are using for journaling.
There is nothing wrong with using a device to journal with! This is a popular option because of its convenience and ease of use. Here are some options if you prefer NOT to use pen and paper:
Journal on the Computer– This is the natural first step to digital journaling. Most people have a computer or laptop they use on a regular basis, whether for leisure, business, or school. There are so many ways to use a computer for journaling, from using a simple Word or Notepad document, to using online journaling sites and software programs. Many people type much faster than they write, so this can be a great option for you.
Use Your Phone or Tablet– Another option for convenience purposes is to journal with your phone or tablet. You will find a lot of apps (mentioned below) that allow you to write every day in the journal, some even providing some extras, like a timer. You have your phone with you everywhere you go, so it’s easy to grab it and write a few sentences or paragraphs when you have a few extra minutes.
Try These Journaling Apps
If you are interested in using a tablet or smartphone for journaling, then the apps are where it’s at. Here is a list of some top-rated apps to consider using. Keep in mind these range in price, so do your own research before deciding.
Day One– This is probably the most popular journaling app you can get, even though it is a bit pricier at $9.99. It is available only for the iPhone, which means you can also use it on your iPad or Mac. You can use Day One for multiple types of journals, include photos on pages, have calendars and maps, reminders, tagging, and so much more. It is definitely an app worth checking out if you’re serious about using your iPhone for journaling.
Momento– Next up is Momento, which is a little cheaper at $3.99 per year. This actually automates journaling for you, so there is less writing that needs to be done. It connects with social media networks to put together a journal for you, but you then add in your own notes. For the purposes of journaling, you should also manually journal if you decide to use this type of app.
Journey– If you have an Android phone, you can’t get the Day One app, but you can use Journey instead. This is a journal and diary app specifically for Android phones and devices. You can record regular journal entries, add your location, photos, and lots more with this fun app. This is a free app unless you decide to add some extras to it.
Bear– This is a good journaling app when you want to do more than just journal with it. Bear allows you to do various types of writing and note-taking, so it is an excellent multi-purpose app for your phone or device. This is for the iPhone and iPad, so it syncs with iCloud as well. There are tons of features that are worth checking out.
Evernote– It is definitely worth mentioning Evernote when talking about apps on your phone. This is not only good for productivity, but you can use it as a journal as well. It is also perfect if you want to take short notes while on the road about what you intend to journal about later.
As you can see, there are a lot of options waiting for you when it comes to how to journal and what to use. In the next section, you will start getting more tips for making journaling exciting even though writing isn’t your favorite thing to do.
- Start with Fun and Interesting Journaling Prompts
This is key for anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of journaling, but gets stuck on whatto write – use journaling prompts! Maybe you don’t necessarily dislike writing once you get started, but choosing a topic is often the hardest part. There are hundreds or even thousands of journaling prompts that can help guide you in the right direction.
Remember that journaling should not feel like a homework assignment. You don’t haveto write about anything in particular, but if you don’t enjoy stream of consciousness writing – where you just write about anything – then prompts are definitely a great alternative.
Here are some different types of prompts that can help get you started on your journaling journey:
Choose Prompts That Ask a Question
There are a wide range of journaling prompts that can help give you something to write about. The two main types of prompts are statements and questions. Having a hard time starting? Just pick a journaling prompt that is a question. Answering a question is a very simple way to start writing. Not only will you have the answer, but the questions are often thought-provoking, so before you realize it, you have written a page or more in your journal with just one simple prompt.
Take a look at these examples:
- Do you have a 5-year plan?
- What is your favorite movie of all time?
- If you could learn one skill, what would it be?
- What do you believe is your greatest strength?
- Are you happy with where your life is right now?
As you can see, they range from answers that might be one sentence long to a few paragraphs or a page long. Then there are some that are follow-up questions to give you even more to write about, like:
- If you don’t have a 5-year plan, what are some things you should include in yours?
- What are 3 skills you can learn this year?
- What is your biggest weakness, and what can you do to improve it?
Search around for journaling prompts and you will find a lot that are posed as questions, making it very simple to start writing in your journal.
Tell a Childhood Story
The next type of journaling prompt is one that asks you to do something or write about something specific, such as a childhood story. This is great because everyone has a variety of stories they can tell. All you are doing is writing what happened during that childhood moment, allowing you to be as vague and brief as you want. It can be overly detailed, or you can just write about what you remember. This is good practice for writing in the journal.
Having trouble thinking of a good story? Here are some prompts that can help bring up those childhood memories:
- Do you remember your first day of school?
- Describe your favorite childhood birthday party.
- What was it like having siblings (or not having them)?
- When you think of happy memories, what comes to mind?
Talk About Your Favorite Books, Movies, or Music
For a shorter journal prompt when you just want to write down a list or jot some notes to get into the practice of journaling, this is a really simple one. Don’t want to write pages at a time? Don’t worry about it! Just make a list of your favorite songs, write about a favorite movie and why you love it, or list some books on your to-read list.
Make Plans for the Future
When you are ready to write about more serious topics, or just use your journal for plans and goal-setting, try writing about plans for the future. This is a journal prompt that will vary based on your lifestyle and goals. This can be your personal goals in the near or distant future, goals for your business or occupation, school, or for your family.
Be creative and imaginative, looking beyond just what can be accomplished in the next month or year, thinking far ahead into the future and what you would love to be able to do. Include some actionable goals as well.
Discuss Your Dreams
This journaling prompt takes it one step further by going more into your dreams and fantasies. Not necessarily things that are impossible, but perhaps a little more out of reach. It helps to dream up scenarios in your journal because it gives you more clarity and insight into what you want in your life, and what might not be right for you.
Journaling prompts are the best way to get started with writing if what is keeping you from journaling is just not knowing what to say. Remember not to take it too seriously or make it feel like a chore. Journaling is done as a way to help improve your life, so you should find some joy from it.
- Ignore the Rules of Spelling and Grammar
This is an important section because sometimes people think journaling has to be like professional writing. It is imperative that you remember your journal is YOURS. It is whatever you want it to be. While there are a lot of different types of journals and specific benefits to them, like gratitude and bullet journals, you can write about anything and everything you want.
Just Keep Writing
When you are writing in your journal, you are the only one that needs to understand it. Ignore proper writing, don’t worry about how you write, whether you write in basic handwriting or cursive, go off the lines, or make mistakes. The journal is something you will most likely keep to yourself, so nobody else needs to know what you’re saying.
Short on time? Learn how to write in shorthand and use abbreviations whenever you want to. In bullet journaling, you also learn how to rapid log in a journal, so that might be a better option for you. This allows you to use things like bullet lists and symbols for writing some of the text.
Don’t Try to Correct Anything
Also remember that you are not trying to correct anything. If you made a mistake in a sentence, don’t worry about going back to erase it or cross it out and write something else. Just leave it alone and keep writing. This keeps you in the right frame of mind for journaling, and keeps it from feeling like a forced activity.
Ignore Your Spelling and Grammar
Finally, ignore the spelling and grammar for now! Journaling is not the time to worry about sentence structure and using the right words. This is meant to be more of a personal activity. While you might notice journaling helps you become a better writer in other facets of your life, don’t feel like you need to have a thesaurus or dictionary app up just when you’re writing about your day.
- Keep Your Journal Private and Secure
Now that you have a good understanding of how to keep a journal, what to write about, and how to encourage yourself to journal even if you hate to write, let’s talk about another subject. That is privacy.
With journaling, sometimes it is not that people hate to write or don’t know how to write, but they feel like they have to journal in a way that would be acceptable to other people who read it. This is not something you should be concerned about. Your journal is not meant to be a book that others could pick up and read. It is better to think about it as a diary.
When you were in middle school or high school, you might have kept a diary, writing all of your personal thoughts and feelings in it. It might have even had a lock and key as many diaries used to have. This is how you should treat your journal.
Keep it private and write in it only for you. This is about improving your own life and mental health. Write only for yourself as if you are the only one who will ever read it. This truly can make all the difference when it comes to writing in it more often.
Keep the Journal Secure
Are you concerned about someone finding it? If so, your first priority should be finding a secure location for the journal. When you write in an actual journal and not a digital version, this might include keeping it in your purse or even a briefcase you bring to work that you can lock. Make sure others know it is your private journal and not to be read.
Keeping it somewhere private will make you more willing to be open and honest, without worrying someone else will read it. If it is in a digital form, such as your smartphone or tablet, it is much easier to keep private. Make sure your phone or tablet has a passcode required to open the device, and it will be secure from anyone but you.
You will discover that when you are able to secure your journal and know you are the only one reading it, that you are much more inclined to be open and honest, which is vital to benefiting from writing in it.
- Start with a Simple Type of Journaling
Still not sure you are interested in writing in a journal? You’re not alone! It’s okay if you don’t like writing a lot. There are plenty of journals that have less actual writing, but still work to your benefit. The following journals are excellent ones to start with when you are new to writing or just not settled on writing pages in a journal every day.
The first journal you can try using on a daily basis that won’t require a lot of extensive writing is a gratitude journal. The great thing about this type of journal is that it can be as short or as long as you want. As mentioned in a previous section, all you do with a gratitude journal is write about what you are grateful for each day.
There are so many ways to approach this type of journal, from setting a timer to just listing what you are grateful for. Other people who enjoy writing more or have a little more time might write paragraphs for each thing they are grateful for, but this is optional. No matter which way you go with, a gratitude journal is a great way to relieve stress and help improve your mental health.
While you can start a gratitude journal as your 5-minute journal, you definitely don’t have to! The point of a 5-minute journal is that you just write in your journal for a few minutes a day. This is an excellent alternative if you’re not a huge fan of writing, but want the benefits of journaling.
All you need to do is set a timer for 5 minutes and write about whatever you want for that amount of time. The timer allows you to write freely without worrying about how much you are writing. You know when the timer goes off, you’re done for the day. This is a great journal to write in the morning, but you can do it any time of the day that is most convenient for you.
Art or Nature Journal
Don’t forget that while journaling is beneficial when you can write things down, there are also visual types of journals. This is great when you are looking for more of a slow transition into recording your thoughts or feelings. You can start with a simple art journal where you either find pictures to add to pages of the journal or create something on the pages. Add some sentences to talk about what you are creating, but keep them as brief or as long as you want. It is a really good Segway into journaling, and might even allow you to see just how easy and creative journaling can be.
The same can be done with a simple nature journal. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, start gathering items you find, such as leaves, twigs, or flowers. Put them in the journal by attaching to pages, then write about what it is and where you found it. You can also do this with pictures of nature as well.
Journaling When It’s the Last Thing You Want to Do
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to approach journaling even if you hate writing. The key is to think about what you don’t like about writing or journaling, and try to find a solution for that issue. This may be the time it takes to write, using a pen and paper, or feeling like you don’t know what to write about.
By starting this practice today and making it a routine, it will continue getting easier as time goes on.