In a world filled with smart phones, virtual social lives, digital currency and self driving cars of all things, I think we’ve become somewhat tech-fatigued. It’s no surprise that vintage crafts, arts and past-times are returning to the zeitgeist with an absolute vengeance! As a form of mindfulness, expression and creativity (whether or not you are naturally gifted), any hobby that can momentarily transport you to a calm and peaceful place is most definitely to be cultivated.
Of all the expressive outlets I’ve tried over the years (I went through quite a few at a rate of knots pretty recently, thanks lockdown(!)), I’ve always kept going with journaling in one form or another. My favourite form of which is the bullet journal. I won’t go into the ins and outs of the ‘BuJo’ here as that is a whole post of it’s own (read: novel) which I will get to at some point, but you can browse some of my spreads on the blog to get a glimpse.
The main purpose of journaling for me is to organise my thoughts, tasks, ideas and plans, and make sense of the to-do list that’s as big as my ironing pile (lol, jokes – I don’t iron). But a journal can be for truly anything – which is why I love the freedom of a blank dot grid, plain or lined notebook to capture whatever I might need to note.
If you’ve never dipped your toe into the world of the journaller, consider this my attempt to convince you, and read on for what I think are the main benefits of keeping a regular journal and how you can get started.
This may or may not float your boat but for most of us, some form of routine is a pretty basic need to feel together and focussed. Journaling on a morning is my way of ‘brain dumping’ anxieties, capturing the many to-do’s that popped into my head overnight and sorting out my schedule for the day. Begin the habit by setting an intention (such as a small goal or purpose) to give you focus. I find that spending 10 minutes or so scribbling into my favourite notebook, as opposed to mindlessly scrolling through my phone, is a far better start to the morning.
Self-reflection and tracking has to be my favourite feature of journaling and I track my mood and habits daily. I’ve recently starting tracking the two in tandem, alongside a small note of what happened that day and the insight is quite enlightening. For example, you might have resolved to read more books but find yourself hardly ever picking up those dusty novels and digging in. Tracking this habit alongside others can shed light on what you’re actually prioritising and what you can change to hit your goals.
Speaking of which…
If you’re keen on reviewing your goals, you’d also benefit from a place to set them. I set goals most months and break them down into tasks for the week. This may sound tedious but it can be as flamboyant or as simple as you like. Goal setting for me is as basic as jotting down what I want to get done, such as how many posts I’d like to get written or any big jobs in the house that need tackling. I’m not one for setting huge, unrealistic tasks or for only goal setting at the start of a year, but, given we are hot-footing into January, you might well be in a resolution setting place.
There exists an entire fandom for the journal/planner/scrapbook. Without a hint of irony, the very hobby I have to take me away from the screen is also the very thing I find myself scrolling through on social media most days. You can find so many beautiful spreads on Pinterest that are artsy and crafted to perfection. Stickers, stamps, brush pens, washy tapes – whatever you’re drawn to, a journal can be a great way to let out your compulsion to doodle and decorate. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in this area is that comparison really is the thief of joy. While it’s fine to gain inspiration from others, remember your journal is ultimately a tool and doesn’t need to be a beacon of perfection.
Writing down a task, idea or appointment is proven to make them easier to recall. Your brain makes a stronger connection with something you’ve physically done rather than just thought about, therefore the act of writing becomes the cement. Additionally having a record, however brief, of your day/week/month is good to look back on for lots of reasons. My current monthly spread provides a useful snapshot when reflecting which helps when planning ahead. I can see what got in my way and what I might do differently the following month. Recording small things you wouldn’t have otherwise remembered is a handy tool and I’ve often had light bulb moments as to why I’ve had dips in mood or productivity.
I could write forever on why I love journaling, and indeed I probably will. Such a versatile and useful tool that can evolve and grow with us as we need, I do hope you’ll give it a try!