JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Write a 5-Minute Journal

When Tim Ferriss mentions his daily writing routine in Tools of Titans, I was intrigued. He calls the routine the 5-Minute Journal.

The 5-Minute Journal is a series of writing prompts that Ferris uses every day – morning and evening- to recall daily highlights and to improve himself for the next day.

These are the 5-Minute Journal Prompts:

Morning Questions

  1. I am grateful for…
  2. What would make today great?
  3. Daily Affirmations

Evening Questions

  1. 3 amazing things that happened today
  2. How could I have made today better?

 

I have incorporated the 5-Minute Journal Prompts into my daily writing routine for ten days. There is already a weekly goals list incorporated into my journal; I was searching for a way to remind myself daily of the tasks that should be completed by Saturday. The 5-Minute Journal Prompts bend to this purpose.

Early on, I would often write in the Evening Questions section that nothing amazing has happened today. It was then that I realized that I associate the word “amazing” with momentous and often unexpected occasions. I substituted it with the word “awesome,” which I associate with any size event or occurrence. That prompted me to change the wording in other places in the prompts to fit my life and the way that I speak.  I would encourage you to do the same.

After a few days, writing the same questions over and over became tedious, so I typed the questions, leaving a space for writing underneath each one. I then printed out a bunch of the pages to glue one every day to my journal. Then I start writing. That has been so much better than handwriting the questions every day.

Of course, if you’re already digital journaling, this series of  prompts can more easily fit into your daily writing without so many steps, and without the tedium of writing the same words every day. Just copy and paste.

What do you think of the 5-Minute Journal?

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Thoughts on Journal Writing

Thoughts about journal writing

  • The format of your journal is up to you. It can be like a captain’s log (” At 8:00am, I awakened to the sound of bluejays over the Sandish Hills.”); it can be a commonplace book- where all things that inspire you are included; it can be a progress journal to keep track of health, household, relationships; it can be more of a to-do list to help you organize your life with a customizable plan (like bullet journaling – click here for bullet journaling 101); you can even create an art journal and paint, or draw, or create a mixed media book; it can be an historical record for your family. Discover your reason for doing it and plow forward with that.
  • How many journals you keep should be dictated by what you want them to do, plus your own way of writing. There are those who do multiple journals, compartmentalizing their lives – jogging journal is separate from family history journal. There are those who keep separate subjects in one journal -keeping 30 pages for inspiring quotes, then another 30 pages for musing about interesting articles, the next 30 pages might be reserved for ranting. There are those who use one journal, start off with the date and then discuss what happened today, or their thoughts on some subject – a catch-all journal.
  • If you join a Facebook group, or any group, of journal writers, understand that talking about having the most expensive fountain pen or the most fabulous leather journal is more important for some of them than is the act of writing. If you want to collect fountain pens, there is nothing wrong with that. However, assess whether a group that is mostly about conspicuous consumption helps you with your journal writing goals.
  • For those of you who -like me- are introverted journal writers who tend to keep to yourself, and journal write wherever you go, look up once in a while. You might find a fellow journal writer right under your nose. I was writing in my journal while in a waiting room and that was the impetus for a fellow journal writer to strike up a pleasant conversation with me! Who knew?
  • If you journal in public, be aware that some people might think that you are writing about them. Some might be bold enough to ask whether you are or not. It might be best to put away the book at that moment, since you never know what someone will do when they are panicked. This rarely happens, but use your discretion.
  • You do not need to keep your journals if you don’t want to do so. Some journals are meant to carry you through a certain season of life and no further. Some journals might be filled with all the things you dislike and all the people you distrust; re-reading that can be repulsive or unproductive. If you need to destroy  or recycle a page or an entire journal, do so. The thing has served its purpose.
  • If you decide to keep your journals, and they are filled with things that you don’t mind reading, let me tell you what a joy it is to be able to go back and see what you were thinking 5 years ago on this date! Even if you ultimately disagree with the person you once were, it’s still a thrill to see the progress (or a kick in the pants to see how little you have progressed).
  • After a while, some journal writers develop a pre-writing ritual, e.g. setting the tea kettle on to boil before writing, exercising vigorously. Some even have  post-writing rituals. I like to sign the last page of my journal, as if I had just written a long, 140-page letter.
  • Reviewing past journals might leave you stunned. An idea that you think you’ve created recently might be in a journal from years ago; you simply did not take the initiative, did nothing about it, then forgot. It takes a lot not to become discontented at that point, thinking about all the things you could have accomplished between that time and this.  Learn to become a more forgiving person, starting with yourself. (Also learn to strike while the iron is hot!)
  • Too many beginners in journal writing behave as if the thing will be ruined if they make a mistake, need to erase something, or scratch through it. Journaling should be a joy, or something functional for you, not something that produces fear, or seems to intimidate you. Remember that journal writing tools -your journal, your writing implements, your ideal writing environment – are there to serve YOU. 

 

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING · REVIEWS · Writing

The Q & A a Day 5-Year Journal and The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal [A Double Review]

Yours truly started writing in both the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal and the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book back in October of 2015. I committed to writing in them for just over a year before putting them to rest. They did not work for the way I journal, but they might work for you.

Both of the 5-Year Journals use the same principle – they are each a “condensed, comparative record for five years, for recording events most worthy of remembrance,” according to One Line a Day.

Each page has Month and Day printed on it; it also has five sections on it. Each section is comprised of a space for a year date and a handful of blank lines.

Additionally, Q& A a Day gives you 365 one sentence questions to answer, such as ” If you were a literary character, who would you be?”

One Line a Day comes with a ribbon page marker. Q& A does not.

Both The One Line a Day Journal and Q&A Journal might be for you…

  • … if you prefer a small, hand-sized journal that can fit in your purse (But not your clutch. I have tried it.)
  • …if you have little time but want to jot something down in a journal
  • …if you do not need much space for writing all your thoughts
  • …if a larger blank page is intimidating
  • …if you would like to have notes from 5 years of your life on one page (That’s the most awesome feature.)

Additionally, the Q&A a Day Journal might work for you…

  • …if you need a random prompt every day
  • …if you are just getting started and you don’t know what to write about yet

Additionally, The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal might work for you…

  • …if you want to note a few ideas for a specific topic (e.g. This journal might be great for guests to leave a note about their stay in your rental space; it might also be a great health progress journal – just enough space for a few stats; it might be your gratitude journal.)
  • …if you want to give it as a present to a child. (The other journal, the Q& A Journal, assumes that teens or adults are using the journal. The questions reflect this audience.)
  • …if you prefer a ribbon bookmark already in the book.

Neither journal might be for you…

  • …if you prefer leather journals. They are made of some kind of heavy cardboard.  (You can have them rebound in leather.)
  • …if you feel like you’re about to explode from all the things you didn’t write because there is not enough space to contain your genius!
  • …if you prefer wide journals.
  • …if you prefer to journal with a fountain pen. (My fountain pen bleeds through both.)

I love the idea of seeing 5 consecutive years of the same day on 1 page. Seeing your progress (or lack of it) is fascinating. The concept is great. I just need more space to write; I like to write anywhere from  2 pages (average) to about 10 pages a day.

Because I was also writing extensively in my main journal, the 5-year journals became a brief summary of something I had already written. The redundancy really burdened me. I began skipping days in the 5-year journals, then writing in them retroactively. It was a mess.

If a 5-Year Journal was my only journal, of the two, I would go for the One Line A Day version. There are no prompts to ignore, so it’s a miniature version of my main journal.

I also feel a little sick to my stomach that I recorded pretty much the same activities on the same days of the year – I had not altered my life one bit. My lack of progress was staggering. And the year had gone by so fast! I might return to this journal one day, just for that kick in the pants.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. You may purchase  the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal or the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book by clicking on the titles.

P.P.S. Have you used one of these journals? What did you think?

JOURNALING · Writing

Date Headers for Your Journals

When organizing a handwritten journal or day’s log, many people enjoy writing the day’s date at the top. To help your eyes see the start of your day’s entry with the greatest of ease, many journal writers embellish the date or create a unique header.

If you search online for “date headers,” you’ll find many ideas in the Bullet Journal community.

Here’s an article from Hannah Emily Lane on “Headers and Inspiration.”

Here’s another from Tiny Ray of Sunshine – “Add Stylistic Headers.”

I have created a few headers below that you can try.  You artsy folk can do it even better.

it's deborah - date header examples - with site logo
Here I’ve dashed off a few headers that, hopefully, with spark something in your own imagination.

 

 

Let me drop a word here. Please remember why you are journaling. Do not spend all your time trying to choose the “right” color or the “perfect” header or you’ll not actually write anything. Make progress, not perfection.  Yes, I mean you, Kimberly. Onward.

Peace be with you,

Deborah