The Massive Benefits I’ve Gained From Journaling

When I first heard about journaling and how it can be useful, my first reaction was ‘No thanks, I’m not a 12 year old school girl.”

But there are several people I look up to, including Tim Ferris, who uses journaling as a tool for things like staying accountable and being more productive.

As a digital nomad it’s easy for my time to escape me – since I don’t really have a boss, or someone telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. The responsibility of getting work done, studying, or staying in shape all lie on me.

Journaling has been a great tool for helping me stay on track, and the more I journal the more I see it’s benefits, here are a few examples.

Allows Me To Pursue What Is Meaningful

A few years ago there were days where I’d finish my work, and then spend 6 or 7 hours in a row playing video games like a basement dwelling troll, not realizing all this time escaped me. There were other periods of time where I’d set fitness goals, only to find out I gained weight, because I splurged on cookies that one Tuesday afternoon. But since I’ve adopted journaling on a regular basis these problems seem to have disappeared.

I don’t follow a specific structure or anything. I just wake up and write down how my day went yesterday, what I need to get done today, and what potential obstacles are in my way.

Nothing too extensive or complicated, and simply doing so allows me to SEE what I did vs. what I should be doing. The simple act of writing down the meaningful tasks I should be doing has helped keep these activities and tasks at the forefront of my brain. Not to mention jotting down any potential obstacles has allowed me be prepared for these issues when the arise, so I can hit my goals a lot more easily!

Self Dialogue

As I progress through my day or get something done, I journal about it, and give myself a pat on the back. When I get sucked into something I shouldn’t be doing, I journal about it, scold myself, and this is usually enough to get me back on track.

For me journaling is like having a conversation with myself. As I write throughout the day I’m giving myself positive or negative reinforcement in order to be as productive as possible.

I know… It sounds a bit silly now that I’m typing it out… But I highly recommend it, especially if you’re have trouble staying on track and focusing (like my ADD brain does).

This has also MASSIVELY improved my ability to focus.

*sidenote* As I write this article I got sucked into a conversation with a very interesting artist on instagram, and I realized I had chatted with him for over an hour… When I realized this I wrote in my journal “I got lost in phone land again, time to I promptly put my phone in a drawer.” Having these sort of dialogues with myself on paper allows me to pursue the meaningful and important things in my life.

Express New Ideas

Have you ever had a new idea that you think is brilliant, only to forget about it later? It’s happened to me countless times.

Now when I’m reading an article or book, watching a youtube video, or listening to a podcast I’ll get an idea about something and quickly just scribble it down. Sometimes these ideas are brilliant little things I can use to help my business grow (like a piece of software I’ve never heard of), other times it’s a new place I want to visit, an activity I want to try, a video to watch later, a new book to add to my shopping cart, and so many other things.

If I think it’s important I’ll scribble a little star next to it, and find a way to fit this into my schedule.

Other times it’s nothing, and the note gets lost in the pages of my journal, and that’s totally okay too.

Either way these things used to easily slip through the cracks until I made journaling a habit.

Expressing My Emotions

Here’s one use I never thought I’d get out of my journal…

For a long time I just used my journal to boost my productivity, which it did a great job at… but I discovered another purpose for journaling on October of 2019.

I was stuck in Laos doing a visa run. A visa run is when you leave the country you’re staying in (for me it’s Thailand), go to another country nearby, renew your Visa in that country’s embassy, and then return. This was my first time doing a visa run, I had trusted the wrong information, and the letter that was supposed to arrive in the Laos embassy took longer to get there than I thought it would.

What was initially supposed to be a 3 day visit to Vientiane (the capital of Laos) turned into a 3 week journey exploring the country until my letter was ready.

I didn’t enjoy my time in Laos initially… there wasn’t much to do in the cities capital, it smelled bad, there were loads of people trying to rip me off, the food wasn’t very good (at least compared to Thailand’s), and I was painfully bored (other cities in Laos were great, but I recommend avoiding the capital). Then things got much worse for me when I discovered a childhood friend of mine was murdered during a robbery…

Being on opposite time zones it was hard for me to find a time to get in contact with friends back home. I lost any motivation to work, move, eat, or even shower. For the first time in my life I spilled my emotions on paper, which tremendously helped when I didn’t have anyone to talk to. This self dialogue on paper allowed me to get out of bed and handle my adult responsibilities. It didn’t cure my heartache or anything like that, but it helped alleviate my pain, and allowed me to realize my responsibilities aren’t going to go away just because I was grieving.

The Bottom Line

Journaling won’t fix any issue you’re facing, but it can be a useful tool which can be used in many ways, and push you forward.

It can allow you to vent your emotions. To track your progress and growth when learning new skills or pursuing goals. To help you keep focused. And so much more.

Do you journal? If so what do you use it for, and how has it helped you?