Published on February 24, 2014
By Brad Ball
1- Find a Way To Make It a Habit! There’s not right or wrong way to keep a journal. The important thing is that you do it at least somewhat consistently. Find a routine that works and stick with it. Consider writing on the same day every week, or every month (i.e. afternoon of the first Sunday each month). Remember there are some huge personal benefits that come from keeping a journal. Among other things it can help you develop a better memory, allow you to prioritize and simplify your life, and even increase your gratitude and overall happiness. Ultimately keeping a journal allows you to learn from your own life and gives you something to leave to your posterity (if you choose).
2 - Consider Keeping a Digital Journal Writing in a journal may be more therapeutic to some, but there are huge advantages to keeping a digital journal. The convenience, access, search-ability, richness of media, security, and portability of digital journaling can’t be beat. This is especially the case if your journal is focused around keeping a personal history or if you incorporate some personal development (goal keeping and resolutions) into your journal. Remember the number one reason to keep a journal is usually to Remember!
3 - Catalog Your Journal By Month If you keep a written, and ESPECIALLY if you keep a digital journal, organize your entries by month (if you’re just starting a journal, consider keeping a detailed monthly entry). Three reasons to do this: Months Are Universal: Your mind is already accustomed to sorting by month. Retrieving old information is easier. Avoid Memory Interference: Days and Years are too similar to each other. Each month is different - memories are less likely to blend together. The Right Lot of Numbers: 12 per year, (500- 600 during an adult lifetime). The human mind is very capable of remembering every month. Also, sorting by month is best for tracking goals and resolutions.
4 - Record The Different Tracks Of Your Life Family, career, hobby, religion, entertainment, friends… these are all different tracks of your life. Often times these track are intertwined with one another, sometime they’re more isolated. Often the activities that make up the biggest part of our life are the ones we neglect when we write about ourselves. Some keep detailed journals of their children, their travels, or even their spiritual lives, but never write about what was going on in their career, or what current events were happening, or even what they did for entertainment or where they went on vacation. Your journal will be more interesting and you will remember more of your life by including details from various different tracks of your life.
5 - Time Capsule your Journal Seemingly small and insignificant things can add much depth to your journal and impact your ability to remember events. Spice up your journal entries by making mention of the books you’ve read, the movies you watched, and even the purchases you made (and prices you paid) during the month. For inspiration, check out the time capsule in your parents yearbook. Pictures Music Books you’ve read Purchases (prices you paid) Technology (computers, phones, etc.) Movies TV Shows Favorite Restaurants / Snacks Fashion (i.e. favorite shirt) Vehicles Major Purchase: Apple Iphone 5 $299 Favorite Movie of the Month: Captain Phillips Favorite Song of the Month: One Republic: Counting Stars Cost of Gasoline: $3.19 / Gallon Favorite TV Show this month: How I Met Your Mother
6 - Add the Inspirational and Spiritual Your journal should serve as a repository for your favorite quotes, inspirational and uplifting ideas, and even spiritual experiences and personal revelations. Add insights from inspirational talks, include notes from church, favorite scriptures, thoughts from meditations, even links to your favorite online videos. Just remember - the inspirational and spiritual should NOT be your entire journal.
7 - Add Detail During Triumphs & Trials Do you have a good memory? Retrieval errors and memory interference will slowly decay even your strongest memories. Studies show that you can increase your personal happiness by remembering the good times. Likewise, it’s beneficial to look back upon your mistakes to evaluate your life and learn from your past. When your going through a specific triumph or trial in your life, be sure to include extra details to help you remember, savor, and learn.
8 - Write Down Names Our relationships and the people we meet are perhaps the greatest source of happiness in our lives. Remember that you can learn something from anyone walking on this earth. Write down the NAMES OF NEW PEOPLE YOU MEET many of our relationships are fleeting and it’s very possible to forget the name of even a good friend if you don’t see them for a few years. Occasionally jot down descriptions of family and friends, record their good qualities, explain what you’ve learned from them and how they inspire you.
9 - Incorporate Goals and Resolutions Once you’ve started to keep a consistent journal, make the most of it by incorporating your goals and resolutions. A journal is the perfect way to hold you accountable - to yourself! Use your journal to scorecard your life and compare your progress to past months/years. Consider measuring your progress using a 1-10 scale on the core elements of your life: PHYSICAL FITNESS, EMOTIONAL WELL BEING, FAMILY, CAREER, and SPIRITUALITY.
10 - Add a Headline Title each journal entry with a one sentence headline. In some cases, your headline may be your entire entry - which is OK. A headline allows you to find and access information quickly - it also gives your journal more personality. Also, don’t shy away from using bulleted lists or one sentence takeaways.
Digital Journal Entry (example) MARCH 2013 SKIING AND A BIG JOB CHANGE March was a great month for me. During the first week of the month I got a job offer from a new company. Although I’ve enjoyed my work at XYZ Manufacturing, I had been interviews and got called in for an interview with ABC Corp. On March 15th they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse so I put in my notice and had two weeks off during the second half of the month. I was do some big time skiing able to catch up on some reading and visit California. Meanwhile, I’ve been loving my Sunday school meetings and have really felt like the Lord is playing a big role in my life. During a particular weekend around March 17, I had a wonderful time serving the homeless as part of a group from my neighborhood - I’m always amazed how I feel when I get the chance to serve others who are less fortunate. Unfortunately, while visiting my parents they once again brought up my student loans - I Still owe them $6000 and that’s been a source of contention. Still, we talked it over then went to see the Spazmatics at an outdoor concert, I had an amazing amount of fun. Things are really looking up right now and my hope is I can reconnect with Julie, who I went out on a few dates with back in December. She’s been on a vacation and I’m not sure where our relationship is at this time, but I’d like to reconnect with her very soon. One of the saddest things that happened to me during the month was attending the funeral of my uncle Mike Charles. Mike died on March 24th and although I haven’t done much with him recently, he had a beautiful funeral at the Farkin funeral home and aunt Savannah spoke. I’ll always miss Mike’s great fish stories from his days working in Alaska in the 1960’s. Good bless Mike! Catalog by Month Add a Headline Record Different Tracks of Life Write Down Names Add the Spiritual and Inspirational Add details during Triumphs and Trials FAVORITE TED TALK: Simon Sinek FAVORITE SONG OF THE MONTH: Payphone: Maroon 5 Time Capsule Your Journal FAVORITE TV SHOW: Big Bang Theory NEWS EVENT: New Pope from Argentina GOALS AND RESOLUTIONS: Weight: 192 lbs (March 1) Goal: Run 35 miles, Actual 37.5 miles Read 11/22/63 By Stephen King (finished 250 pages) Read Matthew 1-23 (accomplished) PURCHASE: Jawbone speaker box $399 Include Goals and Resolutions
Brad is a master life historian and one of the most prolific journal writers on the planet. As a teenager in the early 1990’s, Brad started documenting his daily life – and he never stopped! Continuing for over 20 years without ever missing a day (and still going), Brad has written endlessly about the friendships, relationships, and lessons he has learned along the way. An expert on digital documentation, Brad shares remarkable insights on how our past impacts our decision making, outlook on life, and our perception of time. www.bradleyb.com
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