Throughout my studies and professional experience, all of my mentors told me to start writing a diary regularly. It took me a while to start this habit. But once I integrated journaling into my daily routine, I realized how much it increased my motivation and productivity. This is how and why I do it:
1. Start small.
I did not start writing full-length essays. As a millennial who is on the phone or laptop non stop, I thought it was a bit old school, to be frank. Also, I could not imagine having the time to write a diary on a daily basis. One of my mentors suggested starting by marking the days in my diary: a smiley if it was a good day, a sad one if it was not. I started entering this into my phone. Once I made this a habit, I started with small notes like “finished project XYZ”, “met person XY”, etc. After some weeks, I realized that my notes became longer and I decided to finally buy an “old school” diary.
2. It helps sorting your thoughts.
When I have a lot going on, writing my thoughts down helps me to re-focus and put things in perspective. I did not believe it before I started doing it but writing down your thoughts changes how you think about them. When I am angry, for example, I write everything down and feel relieved afterwards. Only then do I react to the cause of my anger and I can do it more objectively.
3. It helps you keep track.
In addition to writing down what happened on a certain day, I also use my journal for planning and tracking my projects – both professional and private. I use a handy diary I can carry with me all the time – I usually use “dead times” like bus rides to write my diary. One day is dedicated to one page. At the top of the page I note the tasks I need to do on that specific day (I usually do this a day in advance). Every Sunday, I look at the overall picture of the week – Which tasks are done? Which ones need to be carried over into the next week? Which ones have been there for a long time? Once a month, I dedicate a couple of minutes to 1-2 overall goals that I want to reach within that time frame. At the end of the month, before I plan the new goals, I assess if I have achieved my goals. It works basically for any task – I have a column for work, one for my workouts, one for private things. I even take notes of what and where I ate on that day to make sure I can track down my rashes.
Even if you do not want to go into all that detail, I think writing a diary is a great exercise to get to know yourself, your goals and your values. Are you a diary person?