Let’s start with a list of the key steps, and then I’ll go into detail about each one below.
- Understand your motivation to journal
- Pick a time that you can commit to and set reminders
- Pick a format that works best for you
- Just start
Find Your Motivation
Motivation is key. Without understanding your reason to journal–or your reason to do anything, really–you’re going to have a hard time building a new habit.
Work without motivation is just drudgery and sadness.
With the right motivation, you can accomplish anything.
Set Aside Time and Set Reminders
The time you select is also important. You have to have enough time to get this done, after all.
Are you a morning person or an evening person? Do you have a chunk of time after work, or do you need to do this in the morning when nothing else is going on? When is your brain at its best?
All of these should be considered.
After you have the time set, you need a trigger each day to help you remember to do it.
If you’re a pen-and-paper kind of person, maybe you could set out a notebook in a spot that you know you’ll see it.
If you’re like me and keep most of your life in digital spaces, then you’re going to need something to bring the digital journal to your awareness.
I’m currently using reflection.app
and I set via the app both an email reminder and a phone notification at 7 PM, a time when I’m usually done with dinner and about to transition to whatever I do next.
Choose Your Journal
This next step is one that can trip you up. It’s tempting to think you need the perfect app or writing experience to start journaling. But you could start journaling on a napkin if you really needed to.
No app will build your habit for you. You have to build your habit.
The apps or tools you use are just the supplemental materials that combine with your motivation to do what you set out to do.
There are others out there, but these all focus on writing down your thoughts.
Each of these apps has differences that stand out. The key is to find one that shines in the area that is most important to you. For me, that was lots of blank space to write, a way to date and easily find my entries, and basic categorization.
I prefer minimalist design over complicated features, and that’s why I ended up with reflection.app.
But–and here’s a big but–you need to remember that no app will do the writing for you. It should be simple for you to just start writing.
I can access reflection.app from my computer or phone, and that was huge for me.
Getting started tricks your brain into wanting to finish a task before you move on to something else.
Once I open up a new entry for the day and start typing, I know I’m going to get it done. It’s the leading up to the journaling that is the hard part.
I hope you’ll set aside some time in the days to come about how you can start a new habit for your mental health, whether it’s to journal or to do something else.
Habits are the levers that shift our world.
Without them, we are rudderless.
With them, we can chart our own course.
If you know your motivation, or why you want to do something, you’re only a habit or two away from getting there.