Organising your life - the write way

(Image courtesy of Unsplash)

27th January 2021

By Isabelle Dick

Is the lockdown sapping away your motivation? Are all of your days blurring into one? New year’s resolutions long forgotten at this point? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, maybe it’s time you considered journaling.

Too many times we wake up and let the day take us where it wishes, without any purpose, just going through the motions. Too many times, this leaves us dissatisfied and wanting more. Starting a journal can change this!

Let’s talk about why. Firstly, it makes you accountable for how your life is going and where it’s headed. It encourages you to reflect at the end of the day on how things went, and on how you feel. It gives you the means to take action on your goals. Once you put your goals down on paper, they go from being a dream to reality.

Journaling also gives you more mental clarity and breathing space. Our brain is literally programmed to keep popping ‘unfinished tasks’ into our head, so by writing what you need to get done down and allocating time to complete it, you can trick your brain into stop nagging you! On top of that, now you actually know what needs doing and when, life becomes a whole lot less stressful.

This is the pep-talk I gave to myself in June of last year. Spending my days feeling unexcited by my life and with more and more poor habits creeping in, I was determined to give journaling a shot. Seven months into my experience, I can say that the weeks that I’m most consistent with it are my happiest, most fulfilling (and importantly for my forgetful side, my most organised ever!).

You might think this all sounds great, and that you can’t wait to give it a try, but it can be tricky to know where to start. Looking at examples of journal layouts and techniques and taking inspiration from places like YouTubeor Pinterest is a great first step. Having a pretty journal can motivate you to stick at it and can offer a creative outlet to relax you.

Then, noting down what’s important to you, the features of your life that make you happy, and the areas of your life you’d like to address or improve, allows you to give your journal purpose and direction. Maybe you decide that your journal will just be a place for jotting down ‘to-do’s’ at first; perhaps you want to write about how you’re feeling each day, to reflect a little, so you can see where to make changes for improvement. One of the beauties of journaling is its versatility. You can use your journal however you please, to track or comment on whatever is important to you, and in a way that works for you. You could even add journaling to your morning or evening routine. In the morning, note down everything you’re looking forward to in the day or some positive affirmations that you can take with you to start your day. In the evening, you could note down everything you achieved or things you were grateful for in the day.

A style of journaling developed by Ryder Carroll, and the method I use myself, is Bullet Journaling. The basic premise is that you divide your journal into different sections, to focus on the different aspects of your life that you’d like to pay closer attention to and eventually improve. Following this technique, my journal is set out a little like this:

- A page divided into six, to write my goals for the next six months

- A calendar view of the next month

- A diary style section for each day of the month, to jot down daily tasks, appointments, and a short sentence at the end of the day about my general feelings

- Tracker sheet for my goals and habits e.g. an exercise chart or sleeping pattern tracker

- My list’s: wish list of items to buy and those that I’ve bought; a prayer list, books and podcasts I’ve read or would like to read (this part is constantly evolving and can be completely personalised).

I didn’t one day start journaling and find the perfect method, it took trial and error and a few re-starts, but after seven, consistent months, I am so relieved that I decided to give this a try. I can’t pretend that I've achieved every single thing I set out to do. Many times I’ve been over ambitious and had to push back a goal to the next month or cut it out completely. What I have found, however, is that since that dreary day when I took out my pen and notebook, my life has changed for the better. My mind is clearer, my mood is more stable and I’m filled with so much more encouragement. What’s also great, is that on the days when you’re not feeling so positive, you can look back at all the pages you’ve filled in and be reminded of everything you’ve achieved.

If you are looking for these changes in your life or any of the other benefits listed above, I wholeheartedly recommend that you start journaling. Hop onto Youtube or Pinterest, get inspired and creative with setting out and designing a more intentional and positive life for yourself.

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