The Working With Podcast | Episode 51 | How I Use And What I Write In My Journal

Working With Podcast - My Journal.jpg

In this week’s episode of the Working With Podcast, I answer a question about what I put in my journal.

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Hello and welcome to episode 51 of my Working With Podcast. A podcast created to answer all your questions about productivity, GTD, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

This week I received a question about what I write in my journal. Now, my journal is something I really couldn’t live without and it is not digital! My journal is a paper-based journal and I absolutely love it because it gives me time away from a screen to write down things that are important to me. But we’ll get into that in just a moment. 

Before that, I just want to remind you all of my latest online course—From Disorganised to Productivity Mastery in 3 days!—a course created to help you to develop the skills and habits needed to become a master of productivity so you can spend more time doing the things you want to do with the people you want to spend more time with. I would love you to join me in in this course — it’s a course that will change your life and help you to be in the moment and not stressed about whatever might be going on in your work. All the details and links are in the show the notes. 

Okay, onto this week’s question so that means it is time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question.

This week’s question comes from Scott. Scott asks: In one of your videos you mentioned your journal. It looked like a handwritten notebook, and you said you write something in there every day. You also said it has become very important to you. Would you share the kind of things you write there, and why you've found it to be a benefit to you?

Scott, you are correct, I do use a handwritten journal and I do write in it every day. 

First things first, I use a Galaxy Leather large Desk Journal (I’ll put a link in the show notes for you all) which is a gorgeous leather bound lined journal that costs around $25.00. The paper works very well with my fountain pens, although it is not really designed for fountain pens. 

So, what do I write in there? 

When I finish my Golden Ten in the evening, I sit down with my journal and I set up my page for the next day. I begin at the top and write down four headings. The first is “Today’s Objectives”. Underneath that, I write the two things I want to accomplish tomorrow. Now, these could be anything from doing a minimum of 30 mins exercise, to writing my blog post. Whatever I want to accomplish, I will write it there. For those of you who follow my Todoist videos on YouTube, these are the same objectives I have there too. Yes, I know there’s duplication, but my journal stays on my desk in my home office, Todoist goes with me everywhere I go. 

Next comes “Today’s Focus” and underneath that, I write the role I want to focus on for the day. This might be teaching, or content production or health and fitness or anything like that. This is where I can write down exactly what role I want to focus on. For example, I wrote in today’s focus “I teach my students in a way that motivates and inspires, educates and entertains so that my students will improve their communication skills and improve not just their professional lives but their personal lives too.” 

Writing a short affirmation like this focuses my mind the next morning when I read through what wrote the evening before. It motivates me and sets me up for staying focused on what’s important. 

Underneath my Today’s Focus, I write one or two things I am grateful for. Again, this helps to put my mind in a positive frame when I start the day. It’s a great way to start the day and leaves me feeling energised and positive. 

Finally, underneath those, I have a title “what did I do today” and this is where I will write out the things I did as I do them. So, at the time of recording this podcast it is still quite early in the day and I have written “50 minutes Korean study” and “15 minutes meditation” — recording this podcast is the next item on my to-do list so once I have recorded this episode, I will write in “recorded next week’s podcast”. I do this because it allows me to analyse my week and see how productive I have been. 

Now, other things I keep in my journal are notes I capture while watching videos on YouTube. If I have time at the end of the day I will watch a Brian Tracy, Robin Sharma, Mel Robbins or Tony Robbins seminar on YouTube. While watching these I collect notes and quotes straight into my journal. This helps to make my journals valuable sources of information. I watch other videos too of course. TED talks, and videos on Daoism or Buddhism anything like that. From these, I collect notes and quotes too. 

As you can imagine, over time my journals are filling up with some amazing information and there’s nothing better than to read through my old journals on a lazy Sunday afternoon relearning forgotten notes and reminiscing some amazing events I have been to. 

Another thing I keep in my journal are my goals for the year. Now I go through about three or four journals a year, so that gives me an opportunity to rewrite my goals for the year three or four times. It’s a great way to remind myself and to refocus myself on what’s important for the year. I also have my life’s mission statement written in the front and again I get to rewrite that three to four times a year. It’s a fantastic way to reaffirm myself that I am on the right path and moving in the right direction. 

I should mention I also keep tickets and wristbands I have collected from the various music festivals I attend each year. A few weeks ago I went to Above And Beyond’s Group Therapy 300 concert in Hong Kong—it was one of the most amazing experiences in my life and my wristband and train tickets to the event are proudly glued into my journal on the day I attended. I know as the years go by and I look through that journal that page alone will bring back some amazing memories. 

So why do I handwrite a journal rather use a digital journal such as Day One or Evernote? The truth is last year I did experiment keeping my journal in Evernote. There are some advantages to a digital journal such as being able to put in your digital photos, auto collect weather info and as your journal is on all your devices you can capture thoughts and moments wherever you are. But for me, taking some deliberate time away from a screen and going old-school with my favourite fountain pen and a gorgeous paper-based journal is a special moment in itself. My digital journal experiment never did create special moments like that. It began to feel like a burden rather than something I looked forward to doing at the end of the day. That’s why I went back to my old-school journal. 

To answer your second question, Scott, Journaling for me is a special moment. It allows me to slow down, take a few moments at the end of the day to reflect and to think about what I want to accomplish tomorrow in a relaxed state. I can empty my mind of thoughts, and feelings in a way I have never been able to do digitally. I suppose digital devices feel cold, business-like. Handwriting thoughts, goals and mission statements feels more real, more human and for some reaso,n I find it reinforces my motivation better than a keyboard and a screen does. 

And of course, over time you are collecting something physical that can be passed down to your children and grandchildren in future years. That’s something digital journals may not be able to do as file formats could change and the humble text file today could very easily become as obsolete as the VHS video or CD ROM. And that would be a sad loss of memories and experiences. 

Journalling has become a big part of my life. My journal sits, open on my desk as I write, plan and record. It’s a constant companion full of my memories, feelings and experiences and that feels not only comforting, but also reassuring that my life is being documented and even if no one in the future is interested in my life, I will have a record of how I lived my life, the goals I achieved and failed at, and it will be an interesting read for myself as I travel further along life’s path. I would recommend it to all of you. 

Life is short and you have no idea where your life path will take you. Some of you will become hugely successful, many of you won’t. But all you will live wonderfully interesting lives and it would be a shame if you don’t capture those special moments in a way that will live on long after you have passed. So start a journal today. Go out and buy yourself as beautiful notebook as you can afford and start writing. Write your goals for the year, your life’s mission statement and the things you have done during the day. Writing down the things you are grateful for is also a great way to fuel your happiness. This is something you will never ever regret. 

Well, thank you for listening to this episode. Thank you also to you, Scott for the fabulous question and it just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week.