As light-hearted as it may sound to you, daily journaling at the end of the day is one of the most productive and value adding activities you can gift yourself with. The best in the World know and practice this. You may wonder “Why?”
Well, for the simple fact that though you might be a well-planned individual (another fantastic habit), the cliché “Life is what happens when we are making plans” is true. There will be/are a lot of unplanned instances that occur during the course of your day such as that emergency call, a colleague wanting a few minutes of yours to discuss something important, an unexpected e-mail you need to reply to urgently, extended argument with a family member, an accident on the road resulting in a massive traffic jam, a delayed flight and many such instances. Though having a plan absolutely and definitely helps you focus on the most important activities, journaling at the end of the day helps you reflect. As Peter Drucker once said “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From this quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” Thus journaling ensures despite unforeseen circumstances, you are able to stay on track with your goals and feelings. You might be saying “that makes sense, but honestly, I have never practiced journaling earlier. So how do I go about it?”
Do not worry, no matter what your experience (if any) with journaling so far, here are a few key pointers to ensure this extraordinarily effective habit brings out additional productivity and further enhanced focus in your days:
- Journal, as far as possible, right before you go to bed. This ensures a) you cover your whole day; and b) your reflection gets saved in your memory better, thus helping you remember it so that you can work on it more efficiently, whatever it is you need to, when you get up.
- Start with writing all that you can remember that you did during the day including even the minutest of details like brushing your teeth and making that quick call. This will ensure that you remember exactly how you spent your day. Continue this for three weeks.
- Once you have got in the grove of detailing your day ‘well’ spent on paper, you have a fair idea of the difference in usual daily activities like brushing your teeth versus an important activity like that minute call. At this moment, you can start focusing on the important things only. But make sure you write about that minute call, if it were important, because it’s not the duration of that call that matters, but the conversation that happened.
- Finally, as you instill the habit of effective journalin,g and as you get better with it, try reducing it to 1-2 pages only (hand-written/typed on your computer) because the importance of journaling is to summarize your day, note patterns of productivity and non-productivity, and to then make your following days more effective by enhancing productive activities.
If you still find it funny, my challenge to you is to try it for three weeks consistently and see for yourself, its phenomenal advantages on your waking days to come. As a famous saying goes “Life worth living is worth writing about.” Trust me, your life matters because you, in you, have the capacity to change the World in great ways.