Who doesn't want to be more productive? People are always looking for ways to increase their productivity to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. My favourite productivity tool is journaling!
I'm never one to add more things to anybody's to-do list but this one works! I'd like to give you scientific proof that this can help you to be more productive, but I couldn't find any actual stats to support it. I did, however, find a lot of articles from people just like me who recognized how much more productive they felt after keeping a journal.
The great news about this tip is that it's really quite simple. Pick up a pen and start writing or use your computer, tablet, phone, whatever works for you. There's truly no wrong way. You are not setting out to write the next bestselling novel, you are simply writing for yourself. Grammar, spelling, complete sentences don't matter in the slightest. Some days my journal entry is one sentence, some days it’s a list, some days, it could almost be a novel it’s so long.
Ideation is one of my top 5 strengths, which means I have ideas, a lot of them, all the time! My mind never stops; usually with thoughts alternating between "wouldn't it be cool if...." ideas and "I really need to get this done" tasks. When I write, I can get a lot of these out of my brain and onto paper where I can look at them later - or not.
The biggest thing it has done for me is give me focus and clarity on what I need to today or this week. I know that my brilliant (or not so brilliant) ideas that can invade my focus are safely tucked away in one of my many notebooks and I can revisit them and hash them out later when I don't have time sensitive tasks to get done.
The reason that this has become so apparent to me is because I stopped my daily journal practice for awhile and my productivity flew out the window. I was flitting from one task to the next and trying to do ALL the things without really getting anything done. I decided that I needed to be intentional about focusing on what needed my attention and getting to it. One way for me to do this is literally doing a brain dump every morning with my morning coffee and getting all of my thoughts out of my head and onto paper. From there, I can settle into what needs to be done that day and get to it. My productivity has improved dramatically and at the end of the day, I feel like I haven’t just been busy, I’ve been productively busy and making headway on the goals that I’ve set out for myself. This may not be for everybody; however, I do think it’s worth giving it a shot for a few weeks just to see if you notice a difference.
Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way that may help you get started with your own journal practice:
- Start small – try with just writing a list of things you need (or want) to do today.
- Do it at the same time everyday and pair it with something you already do – i.e. morning coffee
- Pick your medium – for me, it’s a notebook and a pen – other people do better with their laptop and keyboard.
- Don’t expect or try to be perfect!
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to write or where to start. One of my favourite practices is gratitude and I try to start and end my day with things I am grateful for, no matter how small. This helps to keep me in a positive mindset as well as being mindful of all the wonderful things I already have in my life – even when sometimes it can feel like nothing is going right. If you are brand new to journaling – this is a great place to start.
At least 3 times a week, I also practice what I call free writing – I set a timer for 20-30 minutes and just write whatever thought comes into my head, even things such as “This seems unproductive”, “My coffee could be hotter”, “Why am I doing this again?” Call it your higher self or your subconscious or whatever you want – it knows things that it wants to bring to the front of your brain and in my experience, this is what happens just past the 10-minute mark.
In order to be productive, we need to be working towards something. There are stats on writing down your goals. Inc.com says you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. If you’re game to try journaling for productivity then try writing down some goals and then each day be intentional about writing something that can help you move towards achieving them or busting through the barriers that are holding you back.
I have run across people in my practice that just can’t journal. They freeze, they can’t write, they’ve tried everything and almost feel like they’re broken. Do what works – capture your thoughts however you can. Perhaps it’s doing a voice memo on your phone on your way to work. Again, there are no rules, so do what works for you.
To sum it up – Your daily journal can be as simple as a to-do list or pages and pages of thoughts, feelings, ideas, and action steps. Remember - there's no wrong way ~ just have fun with it!
Head over to my Free Resources Page and download the Productivity Journal prompts to give you some inspiration on what to write!