You’ve tried to make journaling a habit, but you can’t seem to stick to it. Like most people who decide to try something new, you were probably full of enthusiasm at the beginning.
But before long, the enthusiasm started to wear off.
Maybe you found it difficult to squeeze journaling into your busy schedule, or perhaps you had doubts about your writing ability.
But you know the benefits of journaling and you want to learn how to incorporate it into your routine, this time, for good.
The truth is, there’s no single formula for making journaling a habit. However, there are a number of tips you can use to develop your own individual style, start a journal and stick with it.
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How to Make Journaling a Habit – 14 Strategies That Work
To start, you’ll need to do two things – find the time to journal and find your method of journaling. Let’s look at how to find the time to journal, first.
Finding Time To Journal
1. Designate a Time
Designating a specific time to journal, rather than “when I get around to it” helps journaling become a conscious habit.
It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be a specific time. It could be first thing in the morning or the last thing you do before bed.
The point is, “I don’t have time to journal,” often actually means “I’m not willing to set aside time to journal.” If you’re serious about making journaling a habit, you’ll make time for it.
2. Carry it With You
Setting aside a specific time can definitely help with creating a journaling habit, but perhaps you prefer to write when inspiration strikes and events are fresh in your mind.
If that’s you, then carrying a small journal with you will allow you to write down your thoughts and feelings on the spot.
3. Be Brief
If you find yourself skipping days because you don’t have the time or energy to write pages and pages, then you’ll be happy to know that composing an essay isn’t necessary.
A journal entry can be anything from a single word to multiple pages, depending on what you want to express.
Finding Your Method for Journaling
4. Put Pen to Paper
Studies show that writing things by hand makes a deeper mental impression than digital communications. Writing by hand leads to higher levels of self-disclosure and can have therapeutic benefits (1).
And students who hand-write their classroom notes tend to perform better on conceptual questions (2).
From a purely personal perspective, I find there’s something calming and therapeutic about putting pen to paper – it’s like a massive brain dump that helps me process everything that’s swirling around in my head.
5. Get a Guided Journal
When I was struggling to make journaling a daily habit, one of the biggest reasons was because I often found myself unsure of what to write.
A guided journal was the key to that.
Guided journals provide prompts and guidance, which helps you avoid the dreaded writers block. There are guided journals available for everything from goal setting and daily gratitude to faith and wellness.
Here’s the link to my favorite selection of guided journals. And if you don’t feel like you need a guided journal, you can also customize your own blank journal.
6. Get an App
While there are benefits to writing by hand, we’re all about finding what works for you.
Maybe you’re more comfortable typing on your phone or laptop, and that’s completely fine. The point is making journaling a regular habit – it doesn’t matter if you’re using a quill and scroll or an iPhone!
If you prefer digital journaling, I recommend checking out Reflectly.
Reflectly markets themselves as the “World’s First Intelligent Journal.” The app provides daily reflection prompts and uses positive psychology, mindfulness, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to help you combat unhelpful thought patterns.
7. Collect Prompts
Collecting a list of journal prompts is another option if writers block is causing you to stumble.
There are journal prompts online for every topic imaginable, but here is a list of 50 self-care journal prompts to get you started.
8. Pick a Format
Your journal is highly personal and you can format it however you like. Don’t feel like you have to write in full paragraphs or even full sentences.
Throw grammatical rules out the window. Use bullet points and numbered lists. Invent dialogue. Pretend you’re writing a letter.
It’s your journal and you don’t need permission to write anything.
9. Draw Pictures
Journaling doesn’t have to consist of entirely words, or words at all, for that matter.
If you find it easier to express your thoughts and feelings through images, then make sketches with or without captions. You can also add photos and clippings.
10. Limit Editing
Writer’s block can often be overcome by resisting the urge to censor yourself. Let your thoughts flow freely instead of worrying about how they sound.
Don’t edit your spelling or grammar. You’re not getting graded on this and unless you give them permission, the only person who’s going to be reading your journal is you.
Other Strategies to Make Journaling a Habit
11. Slow Down
When you feel rushed and anxious about something, you’re less like to enjoy it and thus, more likely to avoid it.
Try to develop calming rituals to make your journaling more enjoyable and productive.
I like to sit in a big comfortable chair overlooking my front garden. I brew a cup of lemon tea and play soft meditation music.
12. Write Down the Date
Recording the date on your entries has a number of advantages.
It helps keep you accountable because you can clearly see the days you’ve skipped.
In addition, it makes it easier to find past journal entries you may want to refer back to. It’s also an excellent way to track your thoughts and emotions and see how much you change over the years.
13. Consider the Benefits for Others
You may prefer to keep your journal completely private, never allowing anyone else to read it.
On the other hand, keeping a journal that you one day intend to give you to children or grandchildren can be a wonderful way to share your insights and life experiences.
When my Grandfather died, my Grandmother found one of his old journals. He had started it on the day he retired in 1989, and he wrote an entry in it every day for a year.
That journal has become a treasured item for my family, and allowed us to benefit from my Grandfathers love and wisdom even after he had left us physically.
14. Review and Reflect
Going back periodically to revisit past entries can be an excellent way to keep yourself motivated to journal.
It’s illuminating to view your past entries as you’ll be able to see where you’re making progress and where you might want to grow.
Pursue your goals and work through difficult experiences by journaling consistently. Writing is a proven way to connect with your feelings, gain insights, and learn more able yourself.