Question from a reader --
Have you had any experience with journaling your thoughts daily? I know you previously carried out the 90-day tracking, but what about tracking your thoughts instead of your daily activities?
If you've every journaled your thoughts on a day-to-day basis, what advantages/disadvantages did you encounter?
If you've never done so, would you see value in it?
And regardless of each, do you think that sharing the journaled thoughts on a public forum (similar to your 90-day tracking) provides any benefits over keeping them private?
Cheers, and thanks for reading.
I have spent time journaling, though not reliably and consistently. When I do it, my entries tend to be 2-3 pages long, so it tends to be a few hours long process for me.
One thing that's worked very well for me during transitions is to find 3 hours to go to a cafe with no technology, just paper notebooks and a pen. Then I'd write at the top of the page, "What do I want?" And I'd just write.
The answers tend to get more refined over time. It's interesting, because I think most people have never reasoned through what they want, and the many ways to get there. They never dig deep and probe into what they want to do, and not do, what's potentially conflicting, and so on.
So, I've done that exercise, sometimes on an daily basis for a while. I did it every day in Chiang Mai for about three weeks a few years ago, and it brought some clarity, though eventually pure thinking without any highly directed action gets tiresome.
Why don't I journal now?
Lack of time. There's a number of commercial projects I'd like to do, new business initiatives I'd like to do, charitable things I'd like to do, subjects I'd like to study, people I'd like to connect with, and other things I'd like to deploy my time on. Yet, my calendar is pretty full -- of the 168 hours per week, I've already got 113 of those hours scheduled with 56 hours for sleep, 50 hours for my main work, and 10 hours for charity. That leaves me only 55 hours for everything else -- day-to-day mundane stuff, time with family, eating, writing (blog and email, correspondences, etc), reading, fitness, planning, finance, etc. I'd love if I had 21 hours per week to do some long-form multi-page journaling, but alas, it's not in the cards for me at the moment.
Still, I think it's a great thing. For quick snapshots of a day, I'd often jot little notes among my time-tracking, so I captured some loose thoughts. If you take up journaling -- or any readers here do -- I'd love any thoughts on its effects for you in the comments.
I would recommend it. I use the 'notes' feature on my phone to log random thoughts, insights, personal realisations and observations I make throughout the day.
Every week or two I spend a few hours copying it into my paper journal. This is a nice review and removes some of the duplicates and half-baked ideas. It's surprising how often I spot patterns, reoccurring themes, make connections I never thought of before and set off on interesting tangents.
I've been doing this for about a year now and it really has helped me declutter my mind and get some clarity on what I think about things. Using the phone rather than writing has been crucial as it's a lot more private: the general public can't see what I'm writing when I'm on the train or sitting at my desk so nothing is off-limits.
PS. I also use the 'calender' feature to record bare facts about the day, such as what I did and anything of note that happened. This is synced to Google calender so I can download it someday and write my memoirs.
I've started doing the same as well; journalling with the intention of randomly capturing bits and pieces of information and useful comments from conversations that i'm in.
Never thought of copying it into a paper journal though, and it seems to be adding a ton of value for you. Perhaps I'll give that a go as well.
Quick question: How would you suggest using journalling to "make connections I never thought of before and set off on interesting tangents"? Would be great to gain some perspective on this. Cheers!
My suggestion would be to not expect too much from it and view it
as an interesting side-project with the sole purpose to note things
down. No censoring, treat it as a never ending brainstorming session and leave the intellectual stuff for later.
For example, when I started the journal I was in a bit of a mess and just wanted to get feelings out of my head and onto paper so I could forget about them. I wrote how I was feeling at the time, ruminated about the mistakes I had made, remembered random incidents from my life, what annoyed me about the world, thought about fanciful things I wish I could do if only I were free.
I use 750words.com 4 or 5 days a week, mainly for ad hoc analysis and prioritization. Occasionally I free-write on a subject that's been occupying brain space. And even on the days that I wake up knowing exactly what I need to do and why, I keep it open and pinned in Chrome because later in the day, after I wrap up my main project, I generally use it to regroup and figure out what to do next.
One of the things I've gotten tremendous amounts of mileage out of it is tracking my time, habits, and life each day.
To put it simply - I now realize it's impossible to understand how your life is going without some careful observation. There's a lot of time each day, and knowing where that time goes, what you ate, what you did and didn't do... it's almost impossible to get a good picture of your life without some kind of measuring.
I'm going to you my newest tracking template, and then I'll give some analysis. Before I start though, I'd like to share a quote -
“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.” -John Gall
Thus, if you want to track your time, please do not attempt to track 20 things at once, because it's unlikely to work. I started very simply, as I described in "The Evolution of My Time/Habit/Life Tracking" - I'd recommend you read that post if you want to do something like this.
There's a long list of benefits that go along with keeping a journal, but I think most people go about it all wrong.
But hey, wait a minute, I thought only silly people wrote in journals?
If you ain't doing it, you're the silly one, silly.
So first of all, why the heck would you want to journal?
Here's my top reason: the externalization of thoughts and experiences