How to journal for sanity

All too often we get lost in thinking about creating content for a larger audience to consume.

We worry about headlines, retweets, and shares. Content is king and it’s the hottest advice for driving traffic to your website in today’s new search optimization world.

The thing is, it doesn’t really help our well-being. Sure, checking off “publish blog post” on your Wunderlist might make you feel accomplished in that moment but what about the long-term?

The weekly review is very important to me. It makes me feel in control and that I’ve covered all the bases for the upcoming week. By taking all of the floating ideas in my head and getting them onto paper (or digital) I can rest assure that I have action items to move forward with for the upcoming week.

How journaling can help

This isn’t rocket science and I’m sure plenty of you do this now, but I’m going to start journaling every week.

In fact, I already do it for my food journal, which I keep for my workout plan. Sounds great right? Well, this past week’s diet has looked as if I were a teenager growing up in the late 90’s. Chinese food there, slices of pizza here — oh candy? You bet.

It’s the act of talking to myself that I think is very powerful. I don’t have to write it for you or anyone else to consume. It’s just me, myself, and I:

Good Saturday bootcamp session

1 hour+ of ping pong
32oz of water
2 Slices of toast with PB and Banana
3 Slices Pizza 2 Meat Pies Lots of chips couple pieces of candy
3 beers
3 days in a row of eating like shit.

That was my food journal entry on January 10th. I had a great morning workout followed by some table tennis with my brother and then — the Patriots game came on. All down hill from there, as I noted at the end of the day’s note.

As you can see, it’s not complicated. It’s not lengthy. This is what I did and this is what I felt like. Six months from now I can revisit this month and see where I’m at in terms of my goals. Down 15lbs for those of you wondering.

Apply it to business

My weekly Evernote review includes just a handful of major weekly goals I’m after. It starts with business moves I need to make, marketing efforts I should accomplish, and maybe 1 or 2 product ideas to act on. Other than that, I’m no longer letting my to-do list dictate wether or not my week is a success. You end up drowning yourself that way and not appreciating what it is you already have.

Future self meet past self

This is the biggest benefit of all.

Being able to dive back into the archives of your thoughts and feelings. Learn about what was going on in that moment that made an impact to the state you’re in now (the future.)

  • Why did your product end up this way?
  • What helped you lose weight?
  • What was the market saying to you when you launched?

While I know this is fairly obvious to some, it’s new to me. For those of you looking to a feel a bit more in control — give it  a go — I hope it helps you.

How to get started

My 2 cents if you didn’t already know how to get started:

  1. Do it. Bet you didn’t see that coming? Seriously, pick 1 day a week as your review week and put it in on your calendar. My day is, Sunday.
  2. Journal with something that keeps you in focus. For me it’s Evernote and I’ve also tried Simplenote. I hear that other people love Day One.
  3. Categorize your journaling. I split mine into health/fitness & weekly business. I think it’s just easier to go back and dig into your data that way.
  4. Remember it’s about you, not them. This means there are no rules. You don’t have to worry about the length of your content or if Google will index it. One word or one-thousand words, it’s just for you. Profanity and all.
  5. Bonus: This chap Leo is fairly well-known in the mindfulness space, here’s his take on journaling.

Have you been keeping a running journal? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

2 Comments

I really appreciated this blog post. So often I think that I am not doing enough to cross off my to-do list. As a new entrepreneur and blogger, I stress out often. I don’t journal. I should. I think I will. If not to help the thoughts that are floating around in my gray matter, but to organize my thoughts and life. Hopefully, in 6 months, I will see a noticeable difference.

I’d love for you to check back with us on this, Ashley.

Take it in baby steps. 1 day for the review, give yourself 1 solid hour to look at at everything and figure out your next actionable steps. Write a blurb about it. It’s empowering. 🙂

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