JOURNALING · Organize Self and Home · Productivity

Templates Create Efficiency in Your Journal’s To-Do List

If your journal also houses your to-do list, then efficiency in creating those lists is necessary to get the job done.

One of the biggest culprits of to-do list failure, of not achieving the goal, is the tedium of having to write and rewrite your list on tasks to complete on a regular basis. Delay writing burnout by creating templates.

If you know that you will create a to-do list every day or every week in your journal, it might be a good idea to type a list template that you can print and affix to your paper journal.e.g. If you have a weekly to-do list for the foreseeable future that has as its focus Housing goals, Blogging goals, and Financial goals, then type those headings in a simple table, leaving blanks for you to write in the specific goal each week.

If you are using a digital journal for your list, create a to-do list template that you can copy and paste every day or every week.

Continue tweaking your journal and your lists until it fits your life. Pay attention to what fatigues you about your writing and what brings you  a sense of well-being.

And remember that what worked for you in a different phase of life might need to be tweaked for your current phase of life.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING

Which Pen Should You Use for Journal Writing?

Use the writing implement or medium that works for you and your journal. If a Visconti Rembrandt fountain pen makes you eager to write, go for that investment. If a store brand pen which you can buy in packs of 50 gets your creative juices flowing (because you’re not worried about someone “borrowing” it), then use that inexpensive pen.

Sometimes you’re not even using a writing implement. There may be times when you  glue an image to a page to speak for your mood instead of words.

The pen (or other medium) you should use for the journal is the one that serves you.

Onward,

Deborah

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

Do You Use a Table of Contents in Your Journal?

How many of you use a table of contents in your paper journal?

While it is perfectly possible to enjoy the benefits of journal writing without labeling each entry, a table of contents or an index will help to skim the journal for an entry that you will want to re-read later.

Plus, a table of contents gives you a summary of your year (or whatever time frame in which you used the journal). Sometimes you look back in wonder at all the thing you have done (or didn’t do) in a year, just by looking at the table of contents.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING · REVIEWS · Tech Thoughts from a Consumer

Journey Digital Journal [A Review]

Inspired by the founder of National Journal Writing Month, Bakari Chavanu, who talks about his enjoyment of digital journal writing, this month I journaled using an app on my phone.

I used the Journey brand of digital journal, which is for Android.

You type as you would a memo. (In fact, Journey  resembles the Memo Pad which comes automatically with your Samsung, but with a more aesthetically-pleasing interface.)

You insert video, photos,  stickers, etc., should you prefer to do so. I did not find an audio feature (other than whatever audio is on your video); I’m surprised since even Memo Pad allows for voice-only attachments to your entry.

There are other features which you access with an upgrade, however, there are plenty features in the free version to keep a simple digital journal.

Journey automatically dates the entry; the date and time remain even if you update. There is an option to change the date and time manually. (So that’s one up on the Memo Pad, which automatically updates your date and time when you change an entry and you cannot alter it.) When you start a fresh entry but use an old image, Journey asks whether you want to change the date from the current date to the date on the image.

journey digital journal - screenshot - Deborah Observes

To read the next journal entry on Journey, you can easily click the arrow at the bottom of your journal post (or use the timeline feature to have a big picture glimpse of your little essays). Journey, of course, comes with standard tag features and the ability to search. These features spark the feeling of creating a personal mini blog.

Journey is great for those moments when you do not have your paper journal with you, or when you need to add text to that image you have just taken so that you do not forget details of an event.

It’s a serviceable journal app to capture moments, but not so great for lengthy, soul-searching, life-altering journaling. For me, Journey would supplement my main journal writing, but not replace it.

I prefer the intimacy of a hand-written, paper journal; I’m accustomed to it. However, Journey’s ability to allow you to search for specific entries and categorize by tags is selling me on digital journal writing in general.

Ultimately, Journey is a less-clunky, journal-dedicated version of Memo Pad.

Journey digital journal might be for you if…

…you like an intuitive, streamlined, user-friendly app for journal writing.

…you need a journal app that can be used with a desktop or laptop keyboard.

…you need an Android app to capture moments while you are out and about.

…you would like to store journal entries on Google Drive.

Journey digital journal might NOT be for you if…

… you prefer to use your iPhone for journal writing. Journey is currently only for Android users.

…you prefer to journal exclusively on paper. (However, there is an option to export as a WORD document or a PDF, among other formats, should you prefer to print it off  into paper form.)

… you already use Memo Pad for digital journaling and are ok with not be able to sync the text to other devices.

Click here to view the specifics of Journey brand digital journal on Google Play.

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING

How to Use a Journal to Remember a Recently-Deceased Relative

When a loved one dies, you might wish to remember the person by writing about your experience in your journal, writing about the deceased and keeping mementos.

Here are a few things that I have done with a journal during Aunt C’s recent illness and  death:

1. Print Text Messages

These days, some are irritated if you call them on the phone without advance notice. Instead, we send short text messages on our cell phones or other mobile devices when it is more convenient than voice-to-voice or face-to-face communication.

I’m so glad that this is the case, because text messages from loved ones who are now deceased become written (or, rather, typed) keepsakes.

I have texts from Aunt C that I will print out and place in my journal, including her last one in which she thanked me for sending a book about cancer and hope – There’s No Place Like Hope: A Guide to Beating Cancer in Mind-Sized Bites.

2. Record Their Words and Habits

One of the issues that mourners sometimes have is this: as time wears on and the person you love has been dead for a while, you fear forgetting the little things. You want to remember how they laughed, for instance, but can’t quite recall it.

Long before anyone dies, make a habit of recording interesting conversations from the people in your family, or sayings, or even what seems mundane. I would encourage recording people in your video diaries so that you have a visual and oral representation of them.

Barring that – let’s say that they are camera shy- then using your paper journal will  suffice. Be detailed in your description of the person; use similes, if needed. e.g. Her laugh is like the tinkling of a wind chime in the summer breeze – tinny, and insistent.

Let’s say that you did not record much about that person while they were alive. Then, just after the death, when you feel you are ready, record as much detail as you can.  Don’t scold yourself for not having done this sooner. Be kind to yourself.

(One of the great things about social media is that many people have shared their voice and face on the internet; they have already recorded themselves. Try to acquire copies of those videos, if you can.)

3. Attach The Funeral Program to the Journal

These days, it is easy for a family or a funeral home to create printed programs for the event.  The program is usually both an order of service (e.g. song, prayer, song, eulogy) as well as an obituary.

The printed funeral program is another keepsake that you can attach or adhere to your journal.

I acquired two programs from Aunt C’s funeral, cut them at the fold, and glued them to pages in my journal. I used two in order to display the content on the back and the front of the program; you may use just one program, if you wish, and copy the back.

4. Journal At the Funeral

Take a journal to the funeral; write what you would like to capture about the event, or about yourself, or about the deceased, or about the people that you have met.

One way to help yourself remember the details of the event (or just to calm down if you are overstimulated) is to pay attention to your 5 senses and write about them. (e.g. Who do I see? What one thing do I hear? What one scent do I smell? What do I taste? What textures do I feel on my skin right now?) Write down those observations. Whether at a funeral or not, some of my most vivid memories have come from moments when I just drink in basic things in my immediate surroundings.

If you journal at the funeral, be aware that others might look over your shoulder and see what you write. I tend to journal only about the funeral when I’m at the funeral, i.e. I take notes. When at the funeral, I do not write anything revealing, or too personal, or anything that I wouldn’t mind someone else reading while I’m there.

If the person eulogizing the deceased knows her well, the speech is usually informative and chock full of stories that you can record in your journal.

If the person giving the eulogy does not know the deceased very well, the speech tends to be an impersonal lecture. However, he or she might still have a few words worth worth your time; take notes. I do not put too much pressure on myself to summarize the eulogy if the person did not know the deceased; I just grab one concept from the whole speech, then write about something else.

At some funerals, there is a point in the service when audience members may go to a microphone for a couple of minutes and reflect on the life of the person who has died. Usually, the audience member tells a story about one moment in time when the deceased was kind, or entertaining, or a welcome presence, etc. These are often stories that I’ve never heard before, so I take notes. I summarized these 2-minute reflections about Aunt C in my journal during her funeral.

You may decide to do all of this in your journal later at home. However, I have found that I tend to forget some of the things I want to record unless I’m taking notes in the moment, as if it is an important class.

(Actually, a funeral can be an important class in life. Everyone is thinking about death and what is important to them. It’s a time of reflection.)

5. Consider an heirloom journal

Let’s say that the deceased did not leave much of a personal record of themselves – their opinions, their thoughts on life, their thoughts on the family, etc. There’s little you can do about that.

However, you can consider leaving YOUR journals behind so that your relatives have a keepsake from you.  The heirlooms might be your daily journals or a separate journal specifically dedicated to what you want your relatives to know about you, about life, about concepts that you find important.

Aunt C did not keep a journal (at least, not that we know of); she was a private individual. However, after her death, a few relatives perused her papers to get a better sense of who she was, that which she never really told us about herself. It was a bit impersonal since the papers were diplomas, certificates, office papers, bills, etc., but they still told a story. It would have been nice to have something a little more personal from her.

Give the gift of your personal story to your loved ones by leaving your journals in your will.

Peace,

Deborah

P.S. If you are worried about what can happen to your journal after you die, read this article to consider your options: Journaling Q and A, Part 1.

Brain Drops · JOURNALING

Do You Reread Your Journals?

People write in journals for a variety of reasons. Depending on the purpose of the journal, rereading it can be useful. Sometimes, however, rereading the journal serves no purpose for you or perhaps it is too painful.

However, for those of us who use journals to record our history, our progress (or lack of it), rereading is essential.

I recently stumbled across Tim Ferriss’ book – Tools of Titans. In his introduction, I was struck by his use of journals. He calls them “notes.”

“I’m a compulsive note-taker…. I have recorded nearly every workout since age 18 or so…. It is the collection of my life’s recipes.

“My goal is to learn things once and use them forever.

“For instance, let’s say I stumble upon a picture of myself from June 5, 2007, and I think, ‘I really wish I looked like that again.’ No problem. I’ll crack open a dusty volume from 2007, review the 8 weeks of training and food logs preceding June 5, repeat them and -voila- end up looking nearly the same as my younger self (minus the hair). It’s not always that easy, but it often is.”

For Ferriss, workout journals and food logs are important.

What would be important for you to recall from your journals?

For me, recalling what I was doing a year ago  helps me to understand my progress and my process in any given area of life. Have I made progress on the goals mentioned last year?

Approximately a year ago this month, I said that I wanted to create a business. I’ve set those gears in motion.

One of the things I now do that I wasn’t doing last year this time is use the journal to record my goals for the week, re-reading the goals daily, and revamping the next week’s goals on Saturday.

A music group that I like asks themselves at least three goal-related questions every year, questions that I have adapted to a weekly form and ask myself every Saturday in my journal. They are these:

  1. What accomplishments excited you this week?
  2. What would you like to accomplish next week?
  3. Give yourself encouragement for the next week.

I answer these questions. Under accomplishments for the week, I note daily which things I’ve done and which I have not. I reread the answers at the end of the week. Sometimes I look back on the week and see lots of notes that something did not happen, that I did not accomplish this thing or that. It can be discouraging. But the great difference between last year and this year is that I correct the failings quicker because I  reread the list of things to do every week.

My journal is also where I record my feelings or thoughts about family, business, technology or anything else I’m thinking about. Not only is my to-do list there, but the mental state that I’m in when I accomplish (or fail to accomplish) a thing is right there as well. This helps me to see patterns of thought that I can change to alter my behavior, map my behavior towards the goal.

The person that I once was is always a familiar stranger. This is comforting. Since I made such terrible career decisions in my youth, I am forever in doubt that I’ll know what future self wants. However, according to my journals, the terrible decisions occurred when I stopped listening to myself and followed the crowd. Now, I listen to myself more, I follow the way that I am bent more, even if my behavior is difficult to explain. (This is another reason that rereading my journals comes in handy – if I can explain myself to myself, I have a better shot at being able to explain myself to other people.)

Do you reread your journals? Why do you do so?

Peace,

Deborah