I’ve been journaling since I was 12. I remember consciously decided to write in it in the 6th grade, and at first it felt foreign. Each evening, I set about chronicling the day as if it were being related to someone else (Dear Diary…). As it became more natural, however, I wrote more and more. In high school it turned into furtive torrents of scribble, and in my adult life, it has settled into a necessary habit. Journaling clears the mind. Here’s a few tips for using the daily ritual clear your mind AND keep track of the daily to-dos that pop up during the process.
1) Write every morning.
2) Never re-read what you write or you might be too embarrassed to continue.
3) When to-dos pop up, jot them on next page. Anytime something that you need/want to do comes up, flip the page and write it on the right hand side of the next page. This way, you continue journaling while also making note of your to dos.
4) At the end of journaling, prioritize your to-dos. Underline the thing you’re MOST EXCITED to do, LEAST EXCITED to do, NEUTRAL about doing. Try to at least do those today.
5) Every month or so flip back through your journal pages. Cross off what you have done from your to-do lists in the margins, and when you find something you haven’t done, CROSS IT OFF AS WELL BUT REWRITE IT on your current page.
Having a consistent journal practice that creates space for the thoughts that pop up during the process allows you to continue journaling stream of conscious style without forgetting that important thought. By writing your “pop up” ideas on the margin of the following page, it’s easy to find your to-do lists amidst the scribble. By taking time every month or so to flip back through your journal and consolidate any margin notes onto a new page, you’re ensuring that you keep moving forward in life rather than losing sight of the long-game.