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TPS2: How to Get Started with Journaling

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Learn how you to get started with journaling and stick with it. We’ll also give you a list of prompts and questions you can immediately use to start journaling the right way.


Aaron’s epic journaling post
Day One
Agile Results
Text Expander
Getting Things Done by David Allen
The Progress Principle

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Posted by Constance woods  | September 1, 2016 at 8:04PM | Reply

Please add me to the email list to receive the podcast notes

Posted by Jonathan Saucier  | August 24, 2015 at 5:55AM | Reply

Hey guys,

I just wanted to tell you guys that you are doing an awesome job. I’m a RN in the assisted living sector as a director and need a little extra rocket fuel to get me through the day. The topics and tips you bring up really help me navigate the day, getting more done. Picked up the book GTD by Allen by your suggestion. Keep it up guys.

Jonathan RN

Posted by Ruthie  | January 15, 2015 at 5:46AM | Reply

Hello, thanks for the podcast. I’ve been a casual journaler since I was 10 although then it was about boys and what embarrassing thing happened at school. One of my new years resolutions is to put more consistency around it which led me to search podcasts which led me to you! My question is: how often do you journal, on average? Every day? or do you miss a day here and there? I’ve been trying to do this at the end of the day but sometimes I wait too long and get too tired, I’m journalling about 5/7 days a week…is this just part of the learning process or should it be expected to miss a day or two a week? (I am slightly OCD so I need to check if its possible to be perfect or if I should relax.)

Posted by Thanh Pham  | January 15, 2015 at 10:26AM

Starting at 5/7 is pretty good! Keep that going. There’s not golden rule for how often to do it, but from my experience if you can consistently do 5/7 you’re on the right side. Doing it 7/7 would be a nice bonus.

Posted by Craig Webster  | January 14, 2015 at 5:40AM | Reply

Great podcast. Always used to keep a journal but more along the lines of “It was a dark and stormy night”. Already using Evernote and the basic questions to journal everyday. Very helpful insight. Thanks.

Posted by Devin Baillie  | January 9, 2015 at 7:04PM | Reply

Thanks so much for the response. Exactly what I was looking for.

Posted by Ben  | January 9, 2015 at 1:33PM | Reply

thanks for the great podcast. I’ve appreciated these one so much! I hope I’ll get that started for me. Gonna try hard to set my own template at the weekend so i can start and get a use of it on monday. Keep that good podcast rolling!

Posted by Thanh Pham  | January 9, 2015 at 2:47PM

Thanks Ben! Glad you’re enjoying it. Keep on journaling!

Posted by Zack  | January 8, 2015 at 6:48PM | Reply

Subscribed to your playlist today and found it very insightful and inspiring. I now have a journal system set up in Evernote and will be using it everyday. Thanks for the tips Zach and Aaron! Will definitely be listening weekly.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | January 9, 2015 at 2:50PM

Thanks Zack! Welcome and happy to hear you’re enjoying the show.

Posted by Niamh  | January 8, 2015 at 8:29AM | Reply

Having already read the Asian Efficiency articles on journalling, I have implemented a journalling system using Evernote, based on Aaron’s system. I now have over 100 ‘daily’ entries and I have found that this system really works, particularly in terms of keeping track of my goals, daily tasks and personal growth/accomplishments. This is one of the most useful habits I have picked up from Asian Efficiency, so I just wanted to say thanks! I recommend it to anyone and everyone :)

Posted by Devin Baillie  | January 5, 2015 at 12:28PM | Reply

@Aaron Lynn, I’m wondering if you can give more insight as to what questions you include in your weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. journal entries?

Since I use Evernote for everything else, I’m going to start with your method of using daily templates with the four questions you discussed in the podcast. I was thinking though, that it would be worth setting up weekly, monthly, and yearly templates as well, to have a starting point for those journal entries.

Thanks, Zachary and Aaron, for the podcast, it inspired me to start journalling!

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | January 8, 2015 at 12:34AM

Here are the templates that I use (at time of writing):

Occasionally an extra question or two will make its way into the entries, but mostly I do a general review and reflect across different areas of life.

Posted by Simon Riha  | January 5, 2015 at 8:29AM | Reply

A valuable podcast on journaling. Excellent timing. I just restarted my quick journal in Evernote on Jan 1 to keep track of my little daily achievements in order to avoid a repeating feeling that I didn’t accomplish enough. Your points are valid and inspirational . I’m adding Aaron’s 4 questions to my journal. Thank you, guys.

Posted by Christopher Williamson  | January 5, 2015 at 4:17AM | Reply

It is ironic that we all value Apple products as the holy grail of productivity and yet Apple themselves are so laughably inefficient.

They clearly should be subscribing to Asian Efficiency! :)

Posted by Robert Rodriguez Jr  | January 4, 2015 at 8:05AM | Reply

Thanks for that Wilson, it was helpful. And yes I agree the weekly review is probably the key to making sure everything doesn’t get forgotten and lose its value. I’ll try this approach and see how it goes over the next few months.

thanks again!

Posted by Geoff Airey  | January 3, 2015 at 7:43AM | Reply

still no feed in Overcast, do you have an RSS feed I can add manually?

Posted by Thanh Pham  | January 4, 2015 at 10:54AM

As soon as we’re live in iTunes, you’ll be able to find us. Hopefully a couple more days.

Posted by Wilson Ng  | January 3, 2015 at 6:34AM | Reply

@Robert Roriguez Jr.:

I’ve found that I like to journal on a daily basis. But all those journal entries are useless unless you review it. I usually pile up one to two weeks worth of journal entries. After a while, I like to go back to the entries and just quickly review them. I’ll write down a summary of:

• Things that went well. What victories happened and what discoveries that improved a workflow.

• Things that need improving. I look for friction points or problems that I have encountered. Then I look at patterns of things that have produced friction. This probably means that I need to document a workflow or system that will handle this problem if it reoccurs again in the future. I also look for tools (software, workflow articles found in a Google search, devices) that can help improve my workflow.

I enter a new journal entry entitled “Weekly Review” that summarizes the “Things that went well” and “Things to work on”. This journal entry will mark the date that I did a summary. After a week or two, I’ll go back to to the previous weekly review and start from there and do the next weekly review.

For example, I entered a weekly review journal entry on January 1, 2015. This journal entry summarises everything from the previous weekly review journal entry last dated December 20, 2014. On January 10, 2015, I will enter a new journal entry that summarizes my journal entries from January 1 to January 10.

Here is something to look at from J.D. Meier’s Agile Results:

When I look at my weekly review journal entry, I can generate ideas and projects that I want to start on. I often create new projects in OmniFocus or new workflow summaries in OmniOutliner. This is how I use the journal to improve my workflow.

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | January 4, 2015 at 7:32PM

Thanks for sharing Wilson!

Posted by Philippe B  | January 3, 2015 at 6:17AM | Reply

thank you for your podcast ! It’s very interresting.
As RRjr is it possible to get the Evernote template ?
Thank you again

Posted by Fredi Veas-Bravo  | January 3, 2015 at 2:26AM | Reply

Very good podcast! I have never seen Journaling as a goal oriented tool that can be easily put in place to track progress on different areas. I start today in its implementation and looking forward for next Podcast

Posted by Samuel  | January 3, 2015 at 12:48AM | Reply

Good podcast. I never thought much of journaling before but you’ve made some valid points. It could very well be an excellent tool to add to my toolbox to help measure my progress. And I like the list of questions as they will help hold me accountable for how I’m spending my time and managing my energy.

Posted by Robert Rodriguez Jr  | January 2, 2015 at 4:51PM | Reply

Great podcast, and lots of insightful ideas. I’ve been journaling in more of a brain dump sort of way, getting thoughts and ideas into writing (habit from the Artists Way book by Julia Cameron). But it too lacks structure. What do you suggest for both structure and lots of free thought ideas? I can write 1000 words while journaling no problem…but how to make sense of it is another issue. Or are these just two separate types of writing?

Also, any chance of getting the Evernote template you use for journaling? thanks!

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | January 4, 2015 at 7:28PM

I personally use two sections – one free-flow, one structured. Best of both worlds :)

You can copy-paste the structured questions from here into a Evernote notebook:

Posted by Thanh Pham  | January 2, 2015 at 11:52AM | Reply

Yes, as soon as iTunes approves us you’ll be able to find us on there.

Posted by Ray  | January 2, 2015 at 10:37AM | Reply

I use Downcast to subscribe to podcasts. Will I be able to access your show on it?

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