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Journaling is a bit of a buzzword in the productivity space, but with good reason. And in this episode, Mike and Brooks explain why it’s so important. They dive into the many benefits of journaling, and share 5 tips for making journaling actionable and effective. They explain how to implement a journaling habit, recommend some different tools and apps you can use, and explain how to make the habit stick. If you’ve never understood why you should journal or you have trouble doing it consistently, then this episode is for you.

Cheat Sheet

  • Why there’s a stigma associated with journaling (and why’s it isn’t true) [1:39]
  • The benefits that come from pairing journaling and meditation [5:13]
  • How journaling increases your mindfulness [7:53]
  • The ways that journaling actually increases the likelihood that you will actually achieve your goals [9:55]
  • How journaling strengthens self-discipline and improves communication skills [14:15]
  • Why many people do something called “morning pages” and how it sets their day up for success [18:24]
  • Why you don’t need to take a long time each day to journal (it’s the consistency that counts) [20:27]
  • Why it is so important to keep your journal positive [24:09]
  • The benefits of keeping a gratitude journal and how it impacts your outlook on your life [26:07]
  • Why it is important to see the gains you’ve made by reviewing your journal [32:17]
  • How to use journaling to identify pain points in your life so you can fix and solve them [36:38]
  • AE recommendations for digital journals and apps you can use [38:38]
  • Why you might want to use an analog journal and the benefits of pen and paper [48:42]
  • Why it is so important for you to pick a time to journal that works for you and stick to it [55:03]
  • Using automation and prompts to make journaling more efficient [58:24]
  • 5 tips to make the most of your journaling experience [1:04:56]
  • Why you should review your journal on a regular basis [1:06:19]


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  1. I’ve been using BestSelf books. Ink to paper. There is something cathartic about writing again in a day full of display screens and keypads. Well designed books for journaling and channeling your inner positivity. Between this, Tara Brach and the new app, Oak, I’ve got the tools for productivity and better outlook.

  2. “ATracker” is beautiful application for iPhone, but I will try pen and paper instead: Productivity Planner (by Intelligent Change Inc)
    The difference is that ATracker can track minutes and seconds; and too often I get distracted and forget to stop ATracker’s stopwatch and to start different task. With Pomodoro you only need to count 20-minutes time slots (or 25-minutes, etc.), it his hard to make mistake; and Productivity Planner notebook is optimized for “Eat Your Frog” (do most important task first) and for Pomodoro technique

  3. I ordered today The SELF Journal (by BestSelf Co.), Productivity Planner (by Intelligent Change Inc), Rhodia, and few small Moleskine. And here is my BIG *WHY*:

    I am huge fan of Evernote and I do journaling already more than a year, and much more than just journaling (12-week year planning, vision, goals, affirmations) – all in Evernote. But my dayjob is in a highly secure place, on different computer; I don’t want to use iPhone to write in Evernote (I feel weird). Also, I caught myself that I always try to use some piece of paper and track what I am doing and how I am spending time… already past 30 years. Even now, with Pomodoro technique. There is something after 25 minutes of Pomodoro just lock your computer, and take DIFFERENT tool (paper and pen) and mark “plus” sign for successful focus time. So that I ordered “Productivity Planner” which does exactly that. Neither “Evernote” nor Microsoft Excel could replace me that piece of paper with task-time-tracking, I used Excel for that (per-minute tracking) but if you do per-minute it is easy to get distracted and forget to put “stop time” correctly; with Pomodoro better: exactly 20 minutes, no distractions allowed. (BTW I use Pomodoro application on my Garmin 230 watch, amazing!)

    Of course I’ll continue to use Evernote too, and DayOne is good for just random writings of your thoughts.

    Would be nice to review audio applications: how to do audio notes on the go, how to deal with this audio “inbox” in GTD terms.

    Side note: I do not use Evernote for affirmations anymore: instead, I do it LOUDLY while running early in the morning! And here are two most important: “I enjoy life!”, “By day and by night I am being prospered in all of my interests”. Say it, feel it, feel strong emotions while saying it, open the doors of your subconscious, say other important affirmations too! (the doors are open!)

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  4. At the beginning you talk about gratitude, appreciation, and about importance of tracking personal growth (instead of tracking ‘bad things’).
    Then, after half an hour, Mike suggests to start with simplified journaling, with only two prompts: 1) what was the best happen for me today, and 2) what was the worst happen to me today

    Are you kidding ? Me too :)

    Ok; bad things happen to everyone, and we may need to write about it too. Actually it is good to write it down; to write “I forgive you” letter for example. I suggest to recall good things which you learned from that bad things… I read story about insurance sales person who lived long life and who was very rich and famous, he was known as the person always having positive thoughts of whatever happens to him; but I don’t remember details; in Psychology called “reversal “.

  5. Another journal app/service you might want to consider is diaroapp. What led me to it was that it had an iPhone and Android app as well as a web app! That way, I can easily create my entries when I have a full keyboard, but have the mobility when needed or to review. Check it out at diaroapp.com (no affiliation w/ the app or service. I just think it’s great)

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