A Guide to Consistent Journaling
Even if you feel lazy and can’t be bothered sometimes
Do you want to journal but don’t have the patience or discipline to get started and maintain the habit? Welcome to the Lazy Person’s Guide to Journaling. I’ve simplified journaling so that no matter how lazy or unmotivated you think you are, you can build this habit. I’m going to share a few ideas for gaining the benefits of journaling, without it being time-consuming and all-encompassing.
Here’s how you can build and sustain a journaling habit (even if you feel lazy and unmotivated)
Set a timer for just a few minutes. Who said you must spend 30 minutes journaling as part of an elaborate morning routine? Try ten minutes. Or five, even. Only you can set the rules on how long (or short) you should journal. Use a stopwatch, your phone app, or an online timer.
Use a prompt. And sometimes a prompt gets you going faster. There are thousands you can find on the internet. I also have a bunch on this website. Here are general prompts. Also, a few specifics: journal prompts for positive body image. Journal prompts to stop worrying.
Write one sentence or two. Yes, you read that right. Don’t think you have to write a full page. Or even a paragraph. You can write one sentence or two or however many you want.
Create a small boundary for your journal entries. You can break up a page into boxes. Simply divide your page into small boxes. By confining your writing to these areas to write, you put a limit on how much you’ll write. This also helps take the pressure off what to write.
Banish the idea that you have to write ‘dear diary’ style. The very idea of the ‘dear diary’ approach makes me think of Bridget Jones or some other journal/diary writing which is witty and entertaining. Do not put that pressure on yourself. Your journal is for you and nobody else. It’s not supposed to be entertaining. And unless you like to go back and re-read your journal entries, it doesn’t even need to be legible.
A different approach to journaling
*Focus on just getting something down. Notice the word something. That can be anything you want. How you’re feeling, how you want to feel, what’s rumbling through your head at present, etc. This is the beauty of journaling. You can use a journal for a specific purpose, like letting go of worry or you can use it just as a means to express yourself.
This is a quick written release of an idea. That idea can be specific (ie writing about something that’s bothering you) or it can be more general (today was great because…. or today sucked because). Of course, as mentioned above, you can also use a prompt to get you going if you’re stumped for ideas of what to write.
*Don’t break the chain. Have you heard of this productivity system? Popularized by Jerry Seinfeld, this productivity concept is based on the idea that you’re more likely to sustain a habit if you stick with something every day. I agree. To a point. But I don’t believe that your journaling chain has to be every day. It’s more about creating a pace, a rhythm, than sticking with something ‘every day’. That rhythm varies for each person. For you, it may be journal writing once a day, twice a day, every other day, on Sunday evenings. Whatever. But do find some sort of rhythm. That’s the key.
Banish the idea that journaling means you write full pages. Or the idea that your journal entry has to be life-changing, emotionally healing, or anything else. Journaling is a habit that over time will result in some of these benefits, but every day will not feel amazing. Sometimes you’re doing it just to maintain the habit. The more gaps you have in a chain, the higher the chances, you won’t keep up with a habit.
*Avoid self-editing. While writing, it’s natural to start self-editing. Do not do this. Don’t think about how grammar, spelling, or even the way your writing looks on the page. You do not need to self-edit when you write. The rules of writing are irrelevant to journaling. This is your time and space for reflection, planning, expression, or whatever you choose. Your goal is to write, not edit.
Many people think they’re too lazy to journal because there’s this idea that journaling takes a lot of effort. It does if you want it to. But it’s not always that way. I like things that are simpler and take less time. If that makes me lazy, so be it. I’ve found it’s the best way for me to maintain habits. Try this approach with journaling and watch the habit grow.
Originally published at https://journeyjoy.net on November 9, 2020.