5 Reasons You Should Keep a Journal

JournalA funny thing happened. I kind of backed into journaling by accident. I’m a compulsive note-taker. I keep pads of paper around me at most times of the day, as well as various note-taking phone apps, and I’m constantly jotting down ideas, reminders, To-Do lists, shopping lists, and random thoughts. The problem is, my desk quickly became inundated with piles of slips of paper. It was an unruly mess.

I thought, maybe I should just get a spiral notebook and make my notes inside that, so all my pieces of paper would at least be attached to each other and in one place. I gave it a try, and not only did it result in a much cleaner desk, but it had an unexpected result as well—the notebook changed the nature of my note-taking. It became more linear and more connected. My notes morphed into a journal.

And I’ve never looked back.

If you aren’t keeping a journal, you’re missing out! Here are five reasons why:

1. Your memories will be more useful.

If you’re like me, you forget things all too easily. That’s why I’ve always been a note-taker. I jot things down so I won’t forget them. But a journal takes that activity to another level. Instead of just reaching for a scrap of paper and scribbling down a reminder, the wider canvas and more contemplative nature of a journal makes it more likely that you’ll take your time and elaborate. Instead of just recording a reminder, a good journal entry also records your thought process behind the reminder. Now, when I look back at something I needed to remind myself about, I also see why it was important enough to write down in the first place. The reasons behind the reminder can sometimes be more helpful than the reminder itself.

2. You will think more.

Another benefit, somewhat related to number 1, is that the act of writing in a journal is itself a thinking exercise. My journal entries are basically conversations with myself. I brainstorm. I reason things out. By putting your thoughts on paper, you will probably find yourself exploring new avenues of thought, becoming more creative, solving problems, and becoming more self-aware.

3. You’re more likely to do something if you write it down.

I don’t have the science or statistics to back this one up, but I believe that if you write something down, rather than just decide in your head to do something, you are more likely to actually do it. For this reason, my journal is full of plans—writing plans, marketing plans, personal plans. Even the plan to start blogging regularly originated in my journal—and here we are.

4. You will see patterns.

We’ve all heard the phrase history repeats itself. It’s true on a global, historical scale, and it’s also true on an individual, personal scale. If you keep a journal consistently for a long enough period, and you review your old entries periodically, you will begin to recognize patterns in your life. You’ll identify mistakes that you can avoid, as well as positive actions that you can do more frequently. These patterns can bring real insights and improve your life.

5. Journaling is fun.

This reason should not be overlooked. Journaling is a way to spend quality time with your closest friend—yourself. It’s a way to relax and relieve stress in a judgement-free environment. And it’s a book. We’re all readers here. We love books! Check out mine, a Star Wars themed journal from Moleskine:

Pretty sweet, huh?

If you’re not into physical paper, there are numerous apps you can find for your phone, tablet, or computer as well. I use the Evernote iOS app as a second journal, and I love that I have it in my pocket wherever I go. If I want to make a note while driving, I can even use the iPhone’s voice to text feature to speak my thoughts directly into the app. It’s great (although I prefer the tactile experience of putting actual pen to paper when possible).

What are your thoughts on journaling? Have you tried it? Has it worked for you? Or do you disagree with my points and find journaling to be a waste of time?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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