While our lives continue to be consumed by digital technologies, lost is the art of journaling. Keeping a written journal, however, can have remarkable benefits.
Studies have demonstrated that "students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more," and doodling has been shown to help focus and creativity.
And while typing to take notes is considerably easier and faster for most of us, a Yale psychologist emphasizes that "with handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what's important."
Of course, getting started can be a challenge. Where do you start? How do you start? Here are a few tips I have adopted over the past several years.
1. Invest in a good journal.
If you dedicate time to keeping a journal but write on a loose-leaf pad of paper or Post-it Notes, then you are more likely to discard this valuable exercise, like you would the cheap paper. Instead, look for a journal that is both high quality (will not fall apart easily) and functional (opens easily).
Consider these options:
- Moleskine. These high-quality journals are a standard among creatives and come in a variety of sizes and formats.
- Panobook. This unique journal emphasizes the panoramic layout and offers some unique benefits (I like the storage case).
- Crowdfunding. When the time comes to buy a new journal, I like to visit Kickstarter.com and review the offerings there. I recently backed an interesting new company called Comp.
- Bookstores. If you are looking for a more affordable alternative, consider visiting the clearance shelf at a bookstore. I have found great bargains on nice journals and sketch books (which make great journals) at Barnes and Noble.
2. Find a pen you love.
One thing that will keep you from regularly journaling is using a pen that is uncomfortable or writes poorly. I recommend trying a few until you find one you enjoy using. And this doesn't necessarily mean you need to rush out and buy an expensive fountain pen. Right now, I am loving the Pilot G2.
3. Find a rhythm and purpose.
If you adopt a mindset that these journals are for you only, then you can ditch perfection and going overboard and simply focus on using the time and energy to get your thoughts on paper and spark your creativity.
If you are unsure how to start, try the method by Bullet Journal:
While I have used a journal to keep my professional goals and tasks in order, the activity has evolved to become part of my daily routine. I include both professional and personal reflections, which has made journaling a great memory portal for me.
In fact, because I have a box of journals from the past few years, I enjoy going back through them from time to time. It reminds me is that things that stressed me out a few years ago are no longer important. The things that were important back then -- my family, friends, health, etc -- never lose their importance.
What do you think? Do you have any additional tips for people looking to get started? Please share your feedback in the comments.