I Journaled for 30 Days: No — It Didn't Change My Life

I Journaled for 30 Days: No — It Didn't Change My Life

I’ve always loved the idea of journaling. Over the past few years, I’ve tried various forms of journaling mixed with productivity systems. Everything from paper bullet journals to journaling in apps like Notion, Obsidian, and One Note.

I was never really consistent with it. I would have spouts of journaling where I would stick with it for a few weeks or months at a time, but nothing more than that. I would hop around between different sorts of systems and methods, but nothing really stuck for me.

Recently, I did a challenge where I would journal in my paper journal for 30 days. There weren’t any restrictions or minimums, just that I sat down and wrote something in my journal every day.

Why journal?

There’s a ton of research out there on why journaling is good for you, and while I had that in mind when I originally started, I mainly just wanted to build self-awareness and get clarity on my thoughts/emotions.

How’d it go?

I’m happy to report that yes, every day I did in fact write something in my journal! Some days it was literally just “Hi” while other days had more thoughtful and engaging experiences full of insights.

I found this journaling habit most helpful during the times where I was feeling overwhelmed and didn’t have a clear picture of what I need to do next. It allowed me to understand the emotions I was feeling, and get clarity on the road map of what I should be doing next.

When we’re sitting there looking at our lists of projects/todos, or worst, don’t even have one, our brains are cluttered. When we sit down to write it forces us to be clear. It lets us ask our brain tough questions and creates an environment that makes it easier to respond.

This journaling habit wasn’t the most effective for me. I didn’t find myself pushed substantially towards achieving my goals, but it did substantially help me in the times of overwhelm.

Moving forward

If I were to do this 30 day challenge again, which I most likely will after 31 days of blogging, here’s what I would change.

  1. Change the minimum requirements to time based. Journaling for 15 minutes without distractions.
  2. Figure out how to use journaling as a tool to bring me closer to my goals. This would most likely include figuring out how to implement insights gained from journaling.
  3. Polish my organization/productivity system outside of my journal. How can I make sure insights are captured and used?
  4. Build a morning routine with journaling, so I’m not scrambling at the end of the day to scratch something down.
  5. Incorporate weekly reviews. Read through that weeks entries. Are there any common themes or action items I missed?

I’d love to hear about your experiences with journaling, what has worked for you, if you’ve incorporated any of the above methods, or any thoughts in general. As always, discussion is over here on Twitter.