Journaling Technique: 8 Tips to Boost Your Productivity in Less Than 5 Minutes
There are three types of students: those who’ve found the right journaling technique, those who haven’t, and those who feel journaling anything is a complete waste of time. We get it. Somewhere along the way, you fell into the trap of thinking it was something that only teenagers did, and it usually involved feelings, whining, complaining about relationships, and other assorted childishness.
OK, Boomer, it’s time to stop how you look at younger generations. It’s also time to rethink how you approach journaling. In the following article, we’re going to show you how you can start keeping a super-fulfilling journal in just five minutes per day.
Before we begin, it’s worth pointing out that you should be doing this consistently at the same time every day. We prefer starting the day with this exercise, but you can certainly end your day with it if looking ahead. Choose the time that works best for you, and let’s get started!
1. Gauge Your Feelings
There’s that dirty F-word. Stay with us, though. We’re not telling you to write long diatribes about how the world has wronged you. We don’t want to see a single love poem to your significant other. Nope, that’s not the type of feelings we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a single word to describe how you’re feeling about the day and any upcoming tasks that you may have.
We prefer setting it up as a multiple-choice question. How are you feeling about today? Bad, blah, okay, good, ready to rock? Check, circle, or write down the one that applies to you. No need to justify it.
2. Identify Your Top Project for the Day
Being productive isn’t about how many things you can check off your list. After all, you can always manufacture a bunch of mundane, rote tasks that make you think you’re getting stuff done when you’re really just putting off what needs to be done. Shake it up a bit more. Pick your top project for the day.
If you do nothing else, this is the major task that you will accomplish today. Don’t let it intimidate you. No matter how big the challenge, you give it all you’ve got until it’s either completed, or you’ve reached a sensible stopping point that leaves you in a good position for the following day. You’ll notice something remarkable happens when you attack things in such a manner.
For starters, you’ll get the large ordeals over with sooner. Secondly, you’ll be able to squeeze more of the rote tasks into your day. Add it all up, and you’ll be getting more done per day, week, month, and year. All because you committed to just one task each day.
3. Define Why the Project Matters to You
You’ve named the project. That’s a necessary part of this exercise, and it only takes a few words to do. Now is where you start to explain the importance of it. Again, not a lot of words are required. You can probably describe it in 1-3 short sentences. The point is that you do describe it.
Forcing yourself to properly define the task will solidify its importance. It will also help you take a step back if you ever realize you’ve assigned too much importance to the task and that you should probably be focusing on something else instead. Either realization is a win for your day.
4. Note One Step You Can Take to Move It Forward
You’ve thought of the big ideas. Now it’s time to get granular. If you can’t think of the project in steps, then you’re not prioritizing a big enough task. Pick something that needs to get done that will take up several action items. Once you have it in mind, it’s time for the next part of your five-minute journal.
That part is writing down what you have to do next. You’re not talking about mapping out the whole project right now, though you certainly can. You’re talking about the very first toe that you’ll need to put in the water to get out to the middle of the surf. What is it? Write it down, but don’t actually complete it yet. You can do that after you’ve finished up your journal entry for the day.
5. Give Your Thoughts Free Rein
At this point, you might make a subheading in your journal that says something like NOTES, MISCELLANEOUS, OTHER CONSIDERATIONS. It doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you treat it like something of a brain dump. Again, there’s not a right or wrong amount to write or a topic to cover.
You might engage in free writing about what’s on your mind. You might unpack what needs to be done to complete the project that lies ahead. You might list out other tasks that are worth getting to today if there’s time. Use it as you wish, reflecting on what you’ve already done or the work that lies ahead.
6. Identify What Makes You Grateful
Why does it matter that we’re grateful about anything? If that question is too blunt for you, maybe rephrase it like this: how is it helpful to what I need to do to be grateful about other things? In short, the answer is attitude. You can’t control what happens throughout the day, but you can control your attitude about it.
If you’re like everyone else, the day isn’t going to move as perfectly as you’ve envisioned it. The unexpected will occur. Sometimes the unexpected will make the day more challenging. Other times, it will make it better. No matter what happens, you have to control your feelings and attitudes about it.
When you identify how you’re grateful, you keep your brain centered more on what matters and less on the things that might happen to knock you off track. Consider this part carefully. You don’t have to write it out in complete sentences. Just jot down some bullet points as quickly as it comes to you.
7. Choose a Stopping Point
At some point in the day (or evening), you have to give yourself a break. That break will be best determined by what you hope to get done, how energized you’re feeling, and other obligations that might get in the way of work and studies. Try to make it a realistic time with all those factors in consideration. Don’t overwork yourself.
8. Plan Your Day
By now, you’ve developed a very clear picture of everything you need to do and would like to do over the next 8-12 hours. The steps you’ve taken will have broken apart the big ideas and goals into the parts of their sum. These are the action items that will help you accomplish your loftier goals. List them out. As you complete each item throughout your day, find time to return to the page (either physical or app-based) and cross those things off as having been accomplished.
This Journaling Technique Will Take Five Minutes
We promise you that once you’ve turned the above steps into a template, it will take you no longer than five minutes to accomplish. In so doing, you’ll be more prepared for your busy life than you ever thought possible. Now it’s your turn, readers. What is a journaling technique that has really worked for you? Share in the comments section below.