And it’s now become a habit.
Here I am, many months later, writing an article on medium again. It’s been a while but I’ve been writing more for myself lately. More specifically, I’ve been journaling.
It’s all the rage at the moment, every other ‘Morning Routine’ article that I read points towards journalling as an ultimate way to start the day. But I’ve had a lot of trial and tribulation with journalling. When I first heard about journaling it was from Tim Ferris with his bullet journal method. I’m a type-A person so this sounded great, write everything down in a structured format every day. Without fail.
It wasn’t so easy.
I’ve bought multiple Moleskin notepads over the years thinking that each new fresh purchase will mean a revitalised me, a fresh start to my journaling habits. I’m not writing this to push my agenda of the perfect morning routine, far from it. If you’ve tried to pick up journaling as a morning habit then you’ll understand the struggle. I know how it feels, you pick up a pen and then you just stare at a blank page. Do I write about what I’m grateful for? No that’s too much. Do I write 10 ideas? No, I can barely think of one.
When people talk about journaling they talk about waking up fresh in the morning, grabbing your home-brewed coffee, doing some yoga and then sitting outside on the balcony in the morning sun to write out your thoughts.
My mornings started a little different from that.
Wake up at 6:30 am thinking snoozing the alarm a couple of times will give me that extra bit of sleep that I thought I so desperately needed, to then realise I’m already going to be late for work. Skip the planned meditation, throw everything I need for the day in my bag, and plan to journal on my commute. Yup, that wasn’t going to work. Not on the London Underground, good luck getting a book out, let alone a pen and paper when you’re crammed into a metal tube with hundreds of others.
So therein lied my first problem. I wasn’t making the time for journaling. To have the right mindset to get started with journaling, you need to make the time. Putting pen to paper in the 3 minutes you have before you need to brush your teeth and sprint out the front door isn’t going to do anything for you. To try and fix this I read The Miracle Morning. It helped and made me realise where best I can be spending my time. There are lots of morning habits in that book that you can implement, but for me, I wanted to nail journalling.
My first attempt was less a journal, and more a diary. I got one of those paperback A5 sized Moleskin notepads. I felt I had to fill it every time I sat down. When I was in the mood, it was nice, I could recount my whole day in a whole lot of detail. Even now, it’s nice to look back on those entries and read about what was running through my mind, who I met, or what I did that day. But sometimes it would get tiring. Those days where all I did was go to work and then come home to chill on the sofa with my flatmates were really hard to write about. Those days when I was just so tired to do anything were even harder. So instead of writing daily, I started to write only when great things happened. Noteworthy things like I got a new job, or I went on holiday with my girlfriend. The entries started to become a bit sporadic and then I even started to question what was noteworthy and what wasn’t. Suffice to say that this method of journaling didn’t last long.
For journalling to work it had to have some sort of flow, I shouldn’t have to think about it
I began to realise that maybe I was looking at it the wrong way. I was in a bookshop in Central London and found the perfect notepad. Moleskin of course (I promise I’m not sponsored), but this time it was a little A6 sized daily planner. The perfect size.
I started writing in it when I was in a good mood. I think that was key. Start with some positivity in your journal and it’s going to continue. What was great about this notebook was that it meant I was writing just the right amount. Not too much for me to have to think about it, but enough to write how I felt and any other thoughts that were in my head. I think that was very important for me. For journalling to work it had to have some sort of flow, I shouldn’t have to think about it, it should just be really easy to translate any of my thoughts into words.
Here I am, 66 days in. I’ve managed to keep it up and enjoy doing it every morning for the past two months. If I didn’t manage to do it in the morning I’d make sure to journal in the evening after work.
In the end, my writing style ended up being completely free-flowing. As I said, I just wanted it to be free of any hard thinking and for thoughts to be expressed quickly on the page. I didn’t write bullet points, I didn’t draw nice diagrams. I sometimes experimented with writing a list of ideas and writing things that I’m grateful for but in the end, I would just write how I felt. How I felt in the moment and how I felt about things that have been on my mind.
Sometimes I just couldn’t express how or why it felt a certain way and writing it down really allowed me to understand.
Writing how I felt helped me throughout the day. There’s a sense of ease and a lot less pressure after all of your thoughts have been expressed in one succinct page. It’s like a brain dump of everything that’s on your mind and it allows you to feel relaxed, at ease. Sometimes I just couldn’t express how or why it felt a certain way and writing it down allowed me to understand.
I think I’ll be continuing this. Journalling has become a positive habit for me in the mornings. Would I recommend it? Wholeheartedly. Don’t put any pressure on yourself though. Do what makes you feel most comfortable and don’t force it. For me, it finally just clicked, and that’s the way it should be.