By Bob Sadowski, APR, Public Relations & Social Media Manager, ACCO Brands

Ralph Waldo Emerson. Captain Cook. Ronald Reagan. Kurt Cobain. John Boy from The Walton’s. What do these people have in common? They all kept personal journals.

There are many reasons why these famous individuals kept journals, and there is equally as many reasons why you should consider keeping one, too. The benefits that journaling provides are plentiful, both on a personal level and in a business environment. For example, journaling provides you with:

  • Focus. When you take the time to make journal entries, all of your cluttered ideas from the day are pushed aside, leaving your brain clear and focused on a singular topic.
  • Clarity. By writing out your thoughts, ideas and observations, you gain a clear look at all of the elements that go into your daily and long-term goals, enabling you to adjust and adapt as necessary.
  • Retention. Journal entries capture all of your ideas so that they are retained and never lost. By having them all down on paper, it also gives you the opportunity to organize, further develop and expand upon said ideas.
  • A Record. Your journal can serve as a daily or weekly log of activities so you can go back and reference information from a definitive timeline of events.
  • Expression. All of us need to express ourselves and our thoughts on a regular basis. With a journal, there is no need to keep things bottled up—it gives you the ability to express your thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner.
  • Relaxation. The word “therapeutic” is often associated with the practice of keeping a journal. Putting your thoughts and ideas down on paper and keeping them organized simply makes you feel better and, in return, reduces stress levels.

The method by which you keep a journal is as individual as the contents written within. However, there are a few guidelines that should be considered in order to maximize your effort.

  • Keep it Simple: We all know the KISS acronym—this absolutely applies to journaling. If you make it a complicated effort or process, your desire to journal will dissipate and the benefits will be nonexistent.
  • Be Consistent: This is the key to keeping a good journal. Make it a part of your daily (or weekly) routine. Schedule it in your planner or on your calendar for the same time of day at a regular frequency. Even make sure the place from which you make your entries is the same.
  • Stay Organized: While journaling can help you organize your thoughts and ideas, you need to have a well-planned and organized system for making those entries. Use the same type of outline throughout your journal so that entries are easy to make and find.
  • Be Complete: It’s impossible to reap benefits from incomplete thoughts and entries. Make sure you cover all of the important points and tie up any potential loose ends.
  • Include a Variety: As the old adage goes, variety is the spice of life. Mix up the topics of your entries on occasion—it may help you generate new and additional ideas that can be used with existing goals.

There is a reason so many important historical figures and creative minds keep a journal. If you’ve yet to start, kick off your journaling today! What’s your first entry going to be?

[photo by Tim McFarlane]

3 thoughts on “Journaling: Therapy for the Cluttered Mind

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