Hi, my name is Asa. I have been hosting journaling workshop in Kigali, Rwanda for the past 6 months.
Through the workshop, I have met so many friends who says “I want to be more consistent with journaling, but…”. Yes, I get it. To begin with, it is not easy to find small time in your busy life.
In this article, I am going to share my idea on how to build your journaling muscle in a small 3 steps. They may look very simple steps but a powerful way to get you started with.
- Everyone struggles to make journaling a habit
- It is ok to have up & down with your journaling motivation
- 3 small steps to build your journaling muscle
- Stop perfectionist & Let’s start small
- Let’s build your own journaling muscle in simple 3 steps
Everyone struggles to make journaling a habit
When I meet new friends in workshop, I try to ask “Do you journal occasionally?” and most of the answer is NO.
I used to journal often before having a family.
I heard journaling is good but haven’t actually started yet.
I wanted to make it a habit, but after a couple of days, I stopped…
These are the common answers I get. It shows that everyone understand journaling is good for your mental health. But to make it a habit is another question.
It is ok to have up & down with your journaling motivation
Even me, who has been journaling fan for a long time, struggle to keep it up. I do want to be more consistent but there are weeks I don’t even touch journal.
For example, I tends to be very into new journal in the beginning of January, and it was the case for 2022.
However, when our son got sick & I got nausea from my pregnancy around end of Jan, I stopped writing. And low motivation continued for nearly a month. During that low key moment, journaling workshops were the only moment when I journaled.
But I allow myself to be low when it needs to be. As long as I don’t throw away my book and give up, the time will come when I feel like writing again. And after another month, the time did come
3 small steps to build your journaling muscle
So I am not a perfect journal lover who opens journal every day. However, let me share you my tips to keep you get going.
1) 5 mins is enough to start journaling
You don’t need full one hour of concentration to start journaling.
Of course, it is better to have nice environment with ample time. But if you wait for lovely selfcare time, it will never come during your busy days.
So, let’s keep it very simple. 5 mins is enough to get your journal going.
If you decide 5 mins is enough, there are small 5 mins everywhere.
- 5 mins while you wait for your computer to get started in the morning
- 5 mins before you eat your lunch during lunch break
- 5 mins while you wait for kettle to boil, to make your afternoon tea/coffee
- 5 mins just when you sit down on a couch after your long day
- 5 mins before you go and brush your teeth in the evening
Looking for 30 minutes chunk of time sounds impossible. No one can find extra 30 minutes for yourself. But don’t you think 5 minutes are doable?
2) Keep your journal at handy place
Where do you normally keep your journal?
If it is stocked in a pretty shelf at your bedside table, maybe it is time to re-locate it based on where you can find your 5 minutes.
You need to keep your journal at handy place, so that you don’t lose your 3 minutes looking for the book and fetching pens. Ideally, your book and pen to be sitting together very close to you, so that whenever you find extra 5 minutes, it’s ready for you.
My recommendation is;
- Keep them in your handbag so it’s literally everywhere with you
- Store them in your living room so it’s reachable when kids are quiet
- Have them in your office drawer so you can open it before you start your day
Also, to build journaling habit, it is important to keep your journal at visible place. If notebook is hidden in a drawer where you don’t open every day, chances are that you forget about it and building journaling muscle becomes super difficult.
Have your notebook at handy place where you would actually see it every day. This will reminds you that “Journal is here to be opened for 5 minutes!”
3) Have your “starting line” for quick starts
Next struggle for journaling beginner is “Even if I open my journal, I don’t know where to start.”
You only have 5 minutes to journal so let’s not waste time wondering where to start.
To kick start your writing, I recommend having “Starting line”. This will be the sentence you will use everytime you open your journal.
For example, when I was very into Morning Page (a method of writing journal early in the morning), I decided to write “Good morning. Today I woke up at 5am, and it is 5:05 now. I am feeling…”
If you decide your starting line with something very simple, it will reduce the time to think what to write. Once you write a couple of sentences, your brains starts waking up and the writing begins.
Also, another example I use during journaling workshop is 3goodthing method. Having blank page to fill up might be overwhelming for beginners, so I propose listing up 3 good things that happened yesterday.
By reflecting and writing down 3 things which made you happy, your pen will start flowing with positive attitude.
To learn more about 3goodthings method, you can also check this blog post where I explained how to incorporate it to your daily journaling habit & their benefits.
Stop perfectionist & Let’s start small
Sitting in a great atmosphere with relaxing music, with a cup of good coffee, with no interruption from work/family, and you have one hour to journal…..
— Sounds like a dream. And we will never have such a blessed moment if you wait for it.
So let’s give up the image of perfect journaling environment.
- Yes, it is nice to write for 60 minutes.
- Yes, it is nice to sit in cozy spot for full reflections.
- Yes, it is nice to write 5 pages for mindful moment.
- Yes, they are lovely but they are impossible to incorporate in your chaotic life. We all know that.
So let’s give up the perfectionist. Your journaling activity can be 5 minutes quick exercise, while you are standing at your kitchen counter while waiting for your coffee to be brewed, with messy handwriting.
It is much better than wishing to have peaceful journaling time to come. Let’s start small. Let’s get started.
Even your messy handwriting or some scribbles interrupted by kids will be a good memory of your actual daily life.
Let’s build your own journaling muscle in simple 3 steps
So in this article, I have share how it is not easy for everyone to incorporate journaling to their busy days.
The reality is that we don’t have time but we tend to be very perfectionist about journaling.
So here is the small 3 steps to get you started;
- Find 5mins in your life
- Keep your journal next to you
- Have your starting line
It looks very simple and obvious but they are powerful steps to build your journal muscle.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t write pages with full concentration. A couple of sentences is good enough!