How to Use Journaling to Live Your Best Life

Find a notebook that inspires you.

Blank pages? Lined? Dotted? Gridded? All four? Your choice. Choose a book with delightful imagery that makes you want to use it regularly, or smear it with whimsical stickers. Most importantly, choose a size that’s easy to carry around — this isn’t staying in your nightstand.

Figure out an organization scheme.

You basically have two approaches:

  • Time-based sections, i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planning, with optional notes, reflection, and doodle sections.
  • The bullet journal style, in which you just fill up the pages in order and create an index so you can find your notes and doodles later.

Figure out what works for you.

Look at how your wants meet your needs.

The core of “journal planning” is matching your daily to-dos and calendar to your goals and habits, while leaving room to reflect and be mindful. A lot of people don’t do this. It might have something to do with the fact that many of us have compartmentalized our lives to unhealthy degrees: we don’t think about how our daily tasks meet our overall career goals because we’re just trying to get by. Or you have many aspects of your life that don’t really connect to each other. And that’s where journal planning can help, by providing a common place to track EVERYTHING you have going on.

That’s the difference between this approach and traditional planning. You’re documenting the entirety of your life, which indeed includes everything from that big promotion you want to the fact that you need to update your driver’s license soon.

Practice gratitude and mindfulness.

Many people find it helpful to include a gratitude section where they can record what they were grateful for that day, whether it’s personal accomplishments, people, or new opportunities. Studies show that daily gratitude tracking is an important mindfulness exercise that can boost happiness. You might also consider leaving room to doodle as a mindfulness exercise.

Use your journal planner regularly.

You should write in your journal planner every day. I’ll be honest, some days you’ll miss, or you won’t fill out all the sections. And that’s okay. Try to make it a habit, and in turn you can use it to track habits. With regular use, it becomes a talisman for your motivation.

Read the full version of this piece on Medium.

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