Journaling: What Is It, How To Do It, & The Benefits

I’ve been journaling most mornings as part of my morning routine since November 2017, after reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris (page 146).

The practice only requires a notebook, pen and five minutes of time.
I have found it truly life-changing.

To view my video about journaling click here or scroll down to the end of this blog.

This blog covers the ‘Five Minute Journal Method’.
There are other methods, such as Morning Pages and Bullet Point Journal, which I will write about in the future.

I find the Five Minute Journal effective as it is quick and easy.

What is journaling?

Journaling involves writing down the thoughts that whizz around your head.
There is a science to back up the positive psychology of doing it.

How to journal?

Use a notebook and pen and write down the following:

1.Three things you are grateful for
Start each sentence with, ‘I am grateful for….’
Cover all areas of your life.
Be creative.
Be specific.

Try not to write the cliches like, ‘I am grateful for the sunrise, the food in my fridge and my family.’
Consider past experiences and relationships.

Some of my favourite gratitude points are:
– I am grateful for my knowledge and experience of how to run a business.
– I am grateful for this day ahead, to expand new ideas and be creative.
– I am grateful for this time I have to myself each morning, to relax and plan my day ahead.

One thing I like to do is use something that isn’t going so well in my life or something I don’t feel great about, and try and find some gratitude in it. This is a very powerful practice.

2. ‘What would make today great?
Write three things you would like to do that day.

My best advice for this one is:
– Do not make all three points based on the same topic.
If you are anything like me, it’s easy for the brain to click into work mode, and suddenly I’m writing a list of things to do!
– Be sure to include self-care in here frequently
– Only include things that are in your control
– Be realistic with what you can do

Some of my favourites are:
– Be in bed for 9pm reading a book
– Complete X before 1pm (X is usually an important work task)
– Take regular breaks from work and move my body

3. Three positive affirmations
To finish write three positive statements about yourself.
Start with ‘I am’ or ‘I have.’
Generally, a positive affirmation is something you would like to improve or are working towards.

For example:
– if you are striving to become a professional actor, write ‘I am a successful full-time actor, working on ‘X’ TV programme.’
– if you do not have a positive body image write “I am beautiful and love my body.”

Write what you want as if it has already happened. This can sometimes feel a bit stupid with your brain saying ‘no, this isn’t true,’ but push past that feeling. You’ll have to trust me on this one!

Some of my favourite affirmations are:
– I earn £X per year through jobs I enjoy. *
– I am a successful Content Creator, Adventurer and Professional Speaker. **
– I have clear, healthy, radiant, smooth skin. †

* I used to write ‘I earn £X per year’ but found when I reached £X, I was doing jobs I didn’t enjoy so I tweaked the affirmation to suit.
** I am currently earning 50% of my income from content creation and 50% from social media consultancy. I would like to earn 80-100% of my income as a Content Creator.
† I am prone to spotty skin so use this affirmation frequently.

The Benefits of Journaling

These are the benefits I experience from journaling.

  1. Brain Empty
    My brain wants to snap into action most days, thinking about my list of things to do. Journaling forces me to sit and focus on me.
  2. Gratitude
    The first section of journaling, ‘I am grateful for’ is so powerful! It starts my day on a positive note and can switch my mindset from ‘blurgh’ to yes in just a few minutes.
  3. Routine
    Having a morning routine sets me up for a productive day. I start with a cup of Turbo Tea, then I sit down with my journal and give myself some time to wake up and set my intentions.
  4. Goal Setting & Achieving
    I go big with my goals and write them in my affirmations section. I’m amazed that most of what I write about I get. In some instances, it can take years!

    There are times when I write something and my brain says ‘that’s unrealistic, you won’t get that,’ but I’ll carry on.
    When I really want something I’ll write it over and over again, sometimes 30 times, for months and months.

Tips on Journalling

  • Use a pen and paper
    Journaling can be written digitally, recorded in audio notes, or even spoken out loud, but I prefer the simple pen and paper. It’s cheap, easy and I like the connection of the pen to the paper, a physical link between my brain and body.
  • Be varied
    Write about your personal and work life.
    Do not focus on one subject.
  • Be specific
    As mentioned above, go into some detail when you write: ‘I am grateful for this day’ doesn’t set my soul on fire. ‘I am grateful for this day, filled with opportunity – a time for me to achieve what I’ve wanted to achieve for years,’ has much more drive and direction.
  • Buy a journal notebook
    Buy a notebook that is your dedicated journal.
    There are specific journal notebooks on the market – they are completely overpriced in my opinion. I use a standard hardback notebook, with a design I like from a stationery shop – it cost £3.
My cheap notebook and Turbo Tea
  • Revisit your journal
    Every month or so, flick back through and read what you wrote. It can bring back nice memories or make you realise you are achieving your goals. It also helps you develop your writing skills to be specific and get more creative.
  • Journaling and travelling
    I still journal when travelling and take my notebook with me if I can.
    If I do not have space, I write my points in my work notebook or on a scrap of paper. I have even said them in my head on a train if I haven’t got the time or space to write them down.
  • Journaling vocally
    Share your points out loud with someone else.
    This is something I would like to do more of.
    I did it during my 3,000 mile Atlantic row. My team and I would share three things we were grateful for during the sunrise shift.
    Some mornings we felt REALLY bad! – exhausted, hungry, fed up of rowing for 13 hours a day and still had weeks left at sea. But sharing the positive vibes and shifting our mindset lifted our spirits. It was a really powerful exercise and worked like magic to change our mood.
  • Don’t overthink this process
    Journaling is meant to flow; thoughts coming straight from the head onto the paper.
    Just go with it.
    The only thing I would say is to keep it positive.

I cannot say enough good things about journaling. I’d go as far as to say it is a life-changing.

I’d love to hear from you on social media if you journal already and the benefits you have received.
If you give it a go as a result of this blog, please let me know.

Thanks for reading!