The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Posted by Donald Latumahina 17 Comments

If you want to grow, one important thing you should do is keeping a journal. It may seem simple, but it can make a big difference in your life.

Keeping a JournalI myself have been journaling for years. Writing all the lessons I learn and all the ideas I get has become a habit for me. And to be honest, it’s difficult to imagine how my life would be without it.

Here are some benefits you will get by keeping a journal:

1. It trains you to be observant. Once you make journaling a habit, you will develop the habit of being observant in all your experiences. You will get way more ideas and lessons this way. Instead of paying attention to the negative side of things, you pay attention to the positive side to extract lessons from it. Instead of taking things for granted, you look for new ideas that you can implement.

2. It prevents you from losing an idea. Have you ever gotten an idea only to lose it later because you didn’t write it down? I often experienced that myself. But then I developed the habit of writing down every idea that comes into my mind as soon as possible. If I’m away from my computer, I usually write it down on a piece of paper that I bring wherever I go. I will then transfer the idea to the journal in my computer.

3. It helps you memorize an idea. Even if you do nothing else, the act of writing helps you memorize the idea better. I often remember the things I write down without looking back at my notes.

4. It trains you to express your thoughts. I often take lessons from my experiences and write them down in my journal. Since I want to write a concise statement that summarizes the lesson, I need to think for a while to make it concise. This is a good exercise for me because over time I can express my thoughts better.

5. It helps you expand your ideas. When you try to come up with a sentence to express an idea, you are thinking actively about it. Thinking actively helps you connect your idea to another idea. At the end, you will expand your ideas.

6. It helps you review all the lessons you’ve learned. Why should you repeat the same mistakes you’ve made? By reviewing your journal, you can quickly see the lessons you’ve learned and the ideas you’ve gotten. You can do whatever necessary to avoid repeating the same mistakes. You can use the ideas to propel yourself forward.

7. It allows you to see your progress over time. After keeping a journal for years, you can look back at it and see how far you’ve gone. Things that were big problems in the past might seem small today. The raw ideas you had in the past might have been realized today. Seeing your progress motivates you to move even further ahead.

Now that you have seen the benefits of keeping a journal, what tool should you use?

You don’t need anything complicated for your journal. If your prefer to use a computer, you can use a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. You can even use a text editor like Notepad. If you prefer not to use computer, you can use a notebook.

Just use whatever tool you feel comfortable with. The important thing is to make journaling a habit.

Photo by Crystl

Get Wisdom of the Ages, an e-book that contains the best life-changing quotes.
The package contains the e-book in three formats: PDF, epub (for the iPhone/iPad), and mobi (for the Kindle).
Click here for a free preview (PDF)
Click here to get the e-book (in all three formats)

Please use your real name and note that I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

  • http://www.kaizan.co.uk/blog Kaizan

    Great post. I’m a full believer in journaling, even though I don’t keep it up as much as I should!

    The other great value of journalling is emotional ventilation. When you have a problem or something that is really irritating you, when you write it down, it just feels a LOT better.

    There is research to back up the positive value of expressing your emotions on paper!

    Oh, and I for one, prefer the feeling of pen on paper for journaling!

  • http://www.homesprosperity.blogspot.com Steve

    Very great post! I just listened to a podcast today over at MorningCoach.com, discussing the importance of moving forward with metrics. We need to be able to have stats that track our benchmarks toward our most important goals. That’s the quantitative part of measurement. The beauty of the journal is that it’s the right brain, qualitative, and creative way to get in touch with what is most important in our lives.

    The author of the Artist’s Way (great read, by the way) suggests one hour of freehand writing every day as the best way to crystallize what you truly want. That’s a bit more than I can handle right now, but it underlines the importance of journaling.

  • Paul Sabaj

    Great article. I have been writing in a journal but have not done it daily. Like you said in the article I also keep note pads around for ideas and then transfer them to a journal so as not to forget an idea. Thanks for the comments and have a great week

  • Amity

    Well, I hate to write and type, I bought a new cellphone last month which has a recording feature. I can record upto 60 minutes at one time in AMR format. So before I go to sleep, I record everything I did and everytime I drive, I listen to it. Its really helpful. Immediate effect is – I have stopped repeating same mistakes over and over again!
    I personally think that recording is much better than writing because we speak faster than we write.

  • http://www.keepingorder.com Lee Ann Kleinfelter

    Donald, great synopsis and thoughts. I’d add one more and that is writing in a journal allows your brain to be “dumped” and free from trying to remember it all. It releases a lot of the chatter going in your head trying to keep track of bits of information. I like to tell my clients, “dump your brain”, whether in a journal, notepad or electronic method, just get it written down. Thanks for your list.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Kaizan,
    Emotional ventilation… I haven’t applied that but that’s interesting.

    Steve,

    We need to be able to have stats that track our benchmarks toward our most important goals. That’s the quantitative part of measurement.

    Lately I’ve been thinking and experimenting with a quantitative approach myself. I might write a post about that someday.

    Paul,
    I don’t aim to write in my journal daily since I only write things that are worth writing about. But – thanks to the habit of being observant – I have something to write almost every day.

    Amity,
    That’s a nice tip. I’m sure many people will love journaling that way.

    Lee Ann,
    I agree with you. It reminds me of GTD’s “mind like water” concept.

  • Pingback: The Many Benefits of Journaling | Real Words

  • Meghan Porter

    Great post! It has convinced me to write in my journal again but I usually find that I lose inspiration to continue writing after a week or two and then completely stop. But now I see the many benefits of having a journal so perhaps I’ll keep it up this time! You should consider creating a http://bit.ly/4bybHr poll to get your reader’s opinions. They’re useful and fun for voting! :)

  • Pingback: How to Be a Better Person Day by Day

  • http://www.screenwrightist.com Kim H Peres

    I recently started doing a journal in my Treo every night, I realized how easy it was and how hard it was when I used to do so on paper.

    It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of a physical journal and it can be intimidating, it was for me.

    I think with a little creativity almost any social media can become a journal: private youtube video blogs, a twitter acct, or a blog (of course)

  • Pingback: Effective Journal Writing

  • http://www.lifeentry.com Mulyono Kertajaya

    Just want to share http://www.lifeentry.com with all readers. Lifeentry.com is a photo diary/journal with a simple interface.

    You can keep your journal private or share it with friends/family to keep yourself motivated. I hope this info is useful. Thanks.

  • Lisa McCombs

    I have journalled all of my life: everthing from the ol’ lock and key diary in grade school to keeping a travel journal, a reading journal, and a record of all events that have occurred in my son’s life prior his birth and currently. My love for journalling has resulted in fulfilling my life’s dream…a published book. My young adult novel, Abby, is hopefully the first of three novels written in journal format.

  • Pingback: 750 Words a Day « Frugal, Naturally!

  • Jennifer

    I write in my journal daily. I have since I was 12 years old. I am will Be turning 36 this June. Of all the gifts I have given to myself, writing in a journal has been the one that has blossomed the most amazing fruits. What I have now is not only the tools to repair and maintain my own emotional needs but I also have the language to speak in a clear and productive manner so that others can understand me. I believe I owe so much to actively keeping a journal. My formal education ended at the age of 12. So journaling helped me over come a pretty big ” Good Will hunting ” complex I developed as a way to make peace with things and experiences I in the past precieved as having missed out on. I have the desire to hear others without a sense of urgency to defend certain short comings I may or may not have. I think because I look more thoughtfully at my own truths I am inclined to look more thoughtfully at the truths of others. I encourage all people to journal. Journaling is very neccesary to my own harmony. Journaling has the potential to be a powerful tool in any persons, personal evolution towards the birth of becoming individual of substance.

  • Pingback: Benefits of Journaling - David Andrew Wiebe Interviews and Music Business Podcast: A Podcast for Forward Looking Musicians

  • Pingback: The importance of a diary | Alexella's World

Get Free Updates

   

Search