The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

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.

I 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.


  1. 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!

  2. Very great post! I just listened to a podcast today over at, 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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


    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.

    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.

    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.

  7. […] 7 Benefits of Journaling. Thoughts on how journaling helps you to identify, preserve and explore your ideas. […]

  8. 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 poll to get your reader’s opinions. They’re useful and fun for voting! 🙂

  9. […] lesson you learn, write it down in a journal. Keeping a journal can save you a lot of time because you don’t have to repeat the same mistakes again and […]

  10. 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)

  11. […] may know all the reasons why you should keep a journal, but if you’ve never written in a journal before, or have limited experience with it, you may […]

  12. Just want to share with all readers. 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.

    • No thank, pen and notebook is the best tools, after all what happens if the world ends of that sever “blows up”?

      • Adrijana Radosevic
        Adrijana Radosevic

        if the world ends, so will you. if the server blows up well.. ok, sit down. Sitting? ok. Social networks, blogging sites, actually… all of Internet, is mirrored several times through a complex world-wide network of mirror server. So… even if the country the current server is in gets blown up, your data will likely be readily accessible within minutes. It is much more likely your notebook will get wet or a cat will pee on it or you’ll just misplace it somewhere, than that the data you saved online will be lost 🙂
        Sorry, there’s romance, but then there’s reality XD

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. […] many others! Related Articles: 100 Benefits of Journaling The Benefits of Keeping a Journal The Benefits of Journaling […]

  16. […] “It trains you to be observant, it trains you to express your thoughts, to be able not to loose an ideea, to see your progress over time” […]

  17. Adrijana Radosevic
    Adrijana Radosevic

    I have a technical question. My life is very eventful (I like to keep it that way!) but I often go through things without fully experiencing them, and have tried journaling in order to overcome this on many an occasion.

    However, I have a problem I need help with: journaling with pen and paper is just not my thing. I do many different things in life, and I can’t keep my notes easily accessible if I use only 1 notebook (ie mixing up work, training&fitness, hobbies, personal life, traveling… it all gets garbled up and if I need to find a specific entry it’s a night mare!). Then again having 10 notebooks isn’t really helpful – specially since I like to travel a lot.

    On the other hand, I found many great online / offline tools, like online journals, evernote etc, but… holy shit do I hate typing. Also it kinda gets me stuck on a computer and I can’t do it as comfortably as I can write using pen&paper.

    So I’m looking for a feasible hybrid – an actual tablet and/or an actual “smart pen” that actually works. I’ve tried quite a few tablets and several touch-pens, I have a Bamboo tablet but… it just doesn’t work. It either isn’t comfortable enough to write (can’t lean your hand on touch screen!) or the software isn’t good enough (notes just don’t work / everything is much too slow to be usable) or the hand-screen coordination doesn’t happen quite right (Bamboo). I am quite tech savvy and I tried downloading a lot of different linux-, windows-, and android-based software but I just didn’t find something that would manage to ideally combine the comfortable position of writing by hand with accessibility, editability and “searchability” that online journaling provides.

    Does anyone have an actual software/hardware recommendation?

    • Unfortunately, I can’t give you a recommendation. I use Microsoft OneNote, but it requires typing.

      • Adrijana Radosevic
        Adrijana Radosevic

        Thanks for taking trouble to reply! One note IS a good tool, and on a tablet it can also use input from a touch-pen. My gripe with it is that it’s pretty slow, while a touch-pen is very uncomfortable.. 🙁

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