From Tim Ferris' five-minute journal to Mark Twain's pocket notebook. Time and time again, journaling has been associated with great people.

According to many reports, the benefits of journaling are endless. From increasing mindfulness and empathy to improving communication skills and even healing past wounds and relationships, journaling seems to be the secret to success.

I've frequently shared how keeping a journal for over 16 years has not only helped me write a book but also how it has helped me become a better business leader.  

If so many luminaries from Leonardo Da Vinci to Oprah Winfrey have used a journal to benefit their lives, there is no reason to hesitate to jump on the bandwagon.

However, despite the numerous benefits derived from journaling, very few people are able to keep a journal consistently. We often think we need a lighting moment to start writing or we put a lot of pressure on ourselves by setting audacious goals of writing once a day.

After journaling for more than 16 years, I've realized the best way to keep a journal is to think of your journal as a best friend you check-in with. Sometimes you want to spend the whole day with a friend, while other times, you just want to do a quick check-in to see how your friend is doing.

When you journal, you're doing the exact same thing but simply doing a check-in with yourself.

The more pressure you put on yourself and make it a requirement, the more difficult it becomes. For example, if you enjoy the company of a good friend, do you need a daily reminder to give your friend a call?

I've gone through phases in which I would journal four to five times a day while other times I would journal once every few weeks. The idea is to have a free-flowing dialogue with yourself and the best journal entries are when you are detached from your current situation without any pressure. This allows you to have the best insights.

They say starting is the hardest part. Here are nine lazy yet extremely effective tips to help you get your journaling habit started.

1. Find a place that works for you. 

Often times, unplugging or traveling during the weekends allows me to detach myself from my regular routine. I frequently travel when I write. Find places that inspire you.

2. Figure out a time that works best for you. 

Some folks are early risers while others are night owls. Sure, studies show that the best creative time to write is right after you wake up, but each her own. You need to enjoy writing so figuring out when to write will help you ease into journaling. 

3. Use bullet points. 

No need to write long sentences. If you have creative thoughts throughout the day, write a few bullet points. Simple. 

4. Voice record your thoughts. 

Leverage technology. When I am stuck in traffic or at times when I am thinking faster than I can type, I would use voice record. You can always transcribe your notes later.

5. Take pictures instead of notes. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Does something inspire you or are you feeling too lazy to write? Take pictures to make a mental note and journal it later.

6. Find a platform that works best for you.

Some like to write while others like to type. Some like to voice record while others like to video record. Find out what you enjoy most. You can also mix and match different platforms to make it more fun. I like to use a mix of hand-written journals, Google Docs, and voice recordings. My go-to app for voice recording has been TapeACall Pro. 

7. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, or even logical coherency.

No one will read your journals so in this case, quantity can trump quality. As long as you get your thoughts out, you're fine.

8. Grab a drink before you write.

Often times overthinking is the buzz kill to good writing. Grab a glass of wine or a cold one from the fridge and start scribbling down your thoughts. You'd be surprised what thoughts come to mind. It may not work for everyone, but it sure did help me finish off a 74,000-word book

If you dread writing your journal, chances are, you are doing it incorrectly. Tim Ferris once said, journaling just five minutes a day, even if it is to complain, can transform your life. Figure out a system that works best for you and make your journal your best friend.

Published on: Jan 24, 2018