Have you ever tried keeping a paper journal? When I was little, one of the Christmas gifts I looked forward to the most was a new, crisp journal. There was something so appealing about the blank pages, ready for me to fill them with whatever the future may hold.
Like a lot of people, my Januaries always seemed to start out strong, while my Mays tapered off. When the weather got bad and the days got darker, I’d scurry to jump back in at the end of the year so I could justify getting…a new journal.
Some people love a digital journal but, for me, paper is where it’s at! There’s just something different about running your fingertips across a smooth page, and flipping back through volumes of your handwritten days.
It can be tricky to maintain a journaling habit, but well worth a few minutes each day. Here are three benefits you can enjoy from keeping a paper journal:
Have you read the statistics about how many people don’t ever clarify and write down their goals? If you do, that puts you in the elite 3% of those adults who actually write their goals on paper, and it makes you 50% more likely to achieve your goals than those who don’t. Are you serious about taking strides toward your dreams? Being specific and actually writing them down in detail is a good start. Your journal is a safe place to hold your dreams at the forefront each day. In his book, You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Jeff Goins says to jot “I am a writer” on paper every day. The header of your journal is a great place to copy your affirmations.
Some experts think writing can train the brain to remember and make connections. Realizing the power of cursive handwriting, many schools are returning it to the curriculum. While I try to keep my entries very positive (see reason #3), I do let a few problems creep into my records. I have found that by committing a struggle to paper, I can free my conscious mind from fretting about it and better dedicate the “back burner”, my subconscious, to attack that issue and work it out. Why? Who knows. I like to think it’s magic, but that’s what we always think until science explains a phenomenon. So try it for a month. If you don’t like the results, what have you risked? A few moments of quiet and a notebook.
A Written Record of Your Life:
Hal Elrod says one of the most rewarding benefits of his journaling habit is that he can go back and see his own growth over time. In his bestselling book, The Miracle Morning, he details what it’s meant to him to have a written path to revisit.
As an adult, I felt my life was slipping away in a blur of details I couldn’t remember. When I returned to my daily journaling habit, I could let go of that fear. Einstein famously said he didn’t waste brain space on information he could easily reference. For me, the relief was enormous. I don’t have to remember every delightful detail; I can look it up.
On a side note, I use Austin Kleon’s advice/template to write down the five best things that happen each day. I’m not trying to fool anybody; I just don’t care to remember that I ran over a squirrel on my morning commute or found (another) gray hair , etc. See? I can remember those things, anyway. Also, what a nice feeling to read back over your journals when they are all about the very best of each day. It’s like a personal highlights reel. The notebook becomes a type of gratitude journal, and can be an uplifting read on a disappointing day.
If you’re looking for a way to increase your productivity, capture your precious daily moments, and leave a meaningful remembrance, then keeping a paper journal can be your solution. A few minutes each day can be enough to keep you focused and grateful, and can be a welcome stress-reliever, too.
Do you keep a journal? Is it paper or digital? What are the biggest benefits you’ve noticed?