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Journaling for sceptics and busy people!

Have you ever found yourself thinking…

"Journaling sounds nice in principle but it’s not really for me, I’m not sure I get the point” or

I don’t have the time to sit peacefully for an hour each morning and write freely about my thoughts. I barely manage to comb my hair!” and

Even if I did, where do I start? What do I write about?

I too have been a journaling sceptic. I perceived it as a waste of time, and thought I just wasn’t the journaling type. This was largely driven by two factors:

  1. I thought it had to be “free-thinking” and couldn’t have structure or purpose.

  2. I thought I had to be at it for a considerable period of time to reap any benefit.

Once I gave intention to my journaling, I found it’s value. The purpose of my journaling to:

· keep me accountable for my progress towards my goals;

· facilitate alternative ways of thinking (which are not always possible in the moment); and

· re-enforce a positive and progressive mindset.

As for the time factor…spending an hour or two every day writing to classical music, with a stemming cup of nettle tea and incense burning, for me, is neither feasible nor appealing!

Do you fancy changing it up and trying some of my different approaches to journaling, which are both effective and efficient? They all take less time per week than one average Netflix documentary episode.

I hope that these can change your mind about the value and feasibility of journaling in your busy life.


Daily Evaluation Practice

If you can’t get to it every day, then you can reflect on a couple of days together.

Time Investment: 10 mins per practice, equating to 40 – 60 mins per week.

Recommended writing time: as this mostly a reflective exercise it best done at the end of the day (if you are more of an early bird then first thing the following morning also works).

This structure is very much inspired by the recommendations of Dr Tara Swart, in her book “The Source”. It aims to:

  • provide evidence that you can (and are) taking steps towards achieving your goals;

  • consider what boosts and drains your energy on the journey; and

  • be creative about alternative ways of thinking about and addressing stumbling blocks.

Step 1: (to be completed only on the first day of a new week) set three mini goals that are steps towards your big picture goals. Set one goal for each of the following categories: work, personal development and relationships (platonic, work, family or romantic, as you like).

Step 2: Note down three actions you took during the day which nurtured your mindset and moved you closer to your big picture goals/ideal future.

Step 3: Outline anything that made you feel energised or depleted you. (The aim of surfacing these is so that future you can bring more of the energisers into your life and deprioritise/get rid of depletors).

Step 4: consider any micro “failures” that happened and what you might do differently next time they come up – channel the ideal version of how you might tackle these.

Step 5: channel how your ideal tomorrow might go.

Optional: At the end of the week, you can also add in a short, round-up reflection on your overall progress against the mini-goals you set at the start.


Weekly Wrap Up

Time Investment: 30 mins per week

Recommended writing time: at the end your working week. I find this is a great way to get closure and wind down a work week then transition into the weekend break on a positive note.

The aim of this approach mirrors the daily evaluation but does require a little more memory power (!) as you look back over a whole week.

Work your way through all the questions listed below in order, considering the activities and occurrences of the previous seven days.

  • What are my wins for the week?

  • What did I do this week that moved me closer towards my personal and professional goals? What did I learn on the journey?

  • How did I effectively handle challenges this week? What strong/positive attributes did I demonstrate in doing so?

  • What would I do differently if presented with this week’s challenges again in the future?

  • What stumbling blocks have I come up against this week that appear to have some commonality? How could I think about or approach these differently?

  • What are my mini-goals for next week that will keep me on track towards my bigger picture goals?

  • What am I grateful for?


Ad Hoc Amo:

Time Investment: As many minutes as feasible

Recommended writing time: whenever life throws you a bone!

I advocate for getting some regularity into journaling. As with lots of things it might seem hard at the start (like that new workout regime right?) but once the activity becomes part of your routine it is easier to stick to – just like brushing your teeth!

However, I get it, sometimes life just gets in the way. When I fall out of my routine (which happens semi-regularly – you aren’t alone!) I use any valuable morsel of time and the prompts below to re-anchor myself and focus on what I want long term.

I recommend spending at least 5 - 10 minutes on each question. Cover as many as feels right in the time you have available and whichever question(s) you feel most aligned to in the moment. You can come back to others later.

  • What is my vision for myself long term?

  • How do I define success? What is success to me?

  • What do I value and cherish?

  • What are the beliefs and values I want to live by? (This is also a great one to use to develop affirmations)

  • What am I proud of? What do I take pride in sharing with others about myself?

  • What do I want to be known and remembered for?

  • What are the beliefs and values I want to live by? (This is also a great one to use to develop affirmations)

  • What will life be like if I do not make change?

  • Why do I want to keep moving forwards (despite this setback)?

  • What can I control right now that can help move me forward?


I'd love to hear from you if you try these out, either via the poll below or by leaving a comment.

Which strategy worked best for you?

  • Daily Evaluation

  • Weekly Wrap Up

  • Ad Hoc Amo

  • A combination!

If you are interested in working more closely on personalised strategies to help you have the fulfilling life and career you deserve why not book a FREE exploration call with me today? It is a no strings attached opportunity for some 1-on-1 coaching, tailored to your circumstances and what you want to achieve.


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