why journaling has become my go-to // + tips & tricks

Hellooooo angels. Today I want to talk about something that I have recently fallen in love with this year – JOURNALING. I’ve always been a writer. I find that I best express myself through written words. When I am having a hard time communicating with someone verbally, I write notes or EXTREMELY long text messages.

I always like to re-cap my weeks and am often typing mass amounts of crazy talk in to my Notes app on my iPhone. I have a TONNNN of notebooks but I never take time to write in them because typing out my re-caps or my thoughts on my iPhone while on the go is so much more time efficient and I don’t have to dedicate a certain amount of time on a specific day to sit & journal.

For 2016, I decided to make a change. Yes, I still use my Notes app on my iPhone alllll the freakin’ time, but I also have dedicated time before bed on Sunday nights ( or Mondays, we’ll get to that ) to journal and it’s been so nice! It actually makes me want to dedicate even more time a week to journaling.

Every Sunday night, I look back on the last week’s goals and make note if I met them ( with a smiley face ), half met them ( with a straight smile face ) or didn’t meet them ( with a sad face ). I like to do this so I can know how my past week was goal wise. I then turn the page and write any significant things that happened during the week, followed by a short list of goals for the upcoming week.

One Sunday a month, the Sunday closest to the beginning of the next month, I write out a large list of goals that I want to accomplish and have in the back of my mind for the upcoming month as a whole, ON TOP OF my weekly goals. My monthly goals are usually health & fitness related, overarching themes that I want the month to be full of ( for example, the month of March’s theme was “be more spontaneous – that didn’t get accomplished, just sayin’ #betterlucknextmonth ). I also look back at the previous month’s goals and make note if I met them with my fabulous smiley face system I mentioned above.

Some weeks, I pick up my journal more than just on Sundays, and other weeks I just do Sundays. I like to just write what I’m thinking about and sometimes I journal my dreams – when I remember them ( which isn’t too often, unfortunately! ). I also like to make lists about things I want to do, places to visit, items on my wishlist, etc. I just like to always be writing IN REAL LIFE, as well as on the computer AKA blogging. I also like to keep a journal for blog ideas, as well as having a running iPhone note.

Sundays are the night that I typically make sure I have time to journal. I turn on my Meditation 101 playlist from Apple Music ( best playlist EVER ) and turn on my little light, silence my phone and just write. I lay in bed with iced water and it’s SO incredibly relaxing. After I finish journaling, I’ll lay still in my bed, or sit up whatever I’m feeling, and meditate for a few minutes. Usually after I’m finished, I’ll turn out my light and head to sleep. Some Sundays, I do get busy, Daniel stays over, I’m exhausted from the weekend or we’ve had a family TV night & I know I’ll be cranky if I don’t sleep right away, so I wait and do my routine on Monday night.

I love my little me-time, completely uninterrupted, reflecting on the week or month that has just past.

There’s something just so therapeutic and relaxing about putting pen to paper. 

I thought I’d share some tips for you to help you start journaling ( if you don’t already ) & if you do, maybe help you enjoy it some more!

▸ Pick up an ‘authentic’ paper journal:
I know! Weird, right? Everything is so electronic nowadays that I’m sure some of us forget bookstores exist! One of my all-time favourite places to go is the bookstore… there’s something so relaxing and inspiring about being surrounded by so much creativity. Head to your local bookstore, pick up a notebook and while you’re at it, maybe browse around for a while. You may leave feeling super inspired.

▸ Find some nice pens ( or pencils, if that’s your thing ):
I find that some pens are just SO crappy. They don’t flow nicely, they leak on your fingers, the ink dries up really fast, the point is really sharp and can rip the paper or they’re super uncomfortable. I really like the Frixion pens – plus they’re erasable! And my boyfriend bought me super nice, expensive pens from the local bookstore for Christmas that I absolutely ADORE. They flow so nicely, it makes me happy just to scribble with them.

▸ Set aside a specific time or day for journaling:
I picked Sunday because I know I don’t work late Sunday nights and I’m usually pretty chilled out and ready to head to bed early this night. I make sure that this is a commitment that I make to myself every single week. If you don’t commit to yourself, you’re never going to make anything work! Pick a day that you know you’re GENERALLY not busy & use it for journaling. Of course, if something comes up, don’t ditch out on dinner plans for 30 minutes with your journal, but make sure you have a back-up time or day, that you can dedicate to journaling.

▸ Set the mood:
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think when there’s a whole bunch of things going on. Sure, I can bang out a 3,000 word research paper while watching Criminal Minds, talking to my mom and texting my friends, or I can do discussion posts while sitting in a coffee shop, listening to 8 women talk scream at one another and gossip with my friend, but when I’m in the mood to reflect and set goals, I want to be alone. I want the mood to be set. I chose meditation music, dim lights & my comfy bed. Pick a place that allows you to be 100% invested in yourself, no distractions and you’ll fly through your journaling mission in no time.

▸ Pick what you want to write about:
To start out, I was only going to do monthly goals. I thought I couldn’t possibly dedicate time EACH week to journaling ( I don’t really know how busy I think I am, but I’m really not that busy ha ) but then as I really started to enjoy it, I decided I could keep up with the weekly goals. Having something specific that I’m writing about really helps me. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed staring at a blank piece of paper, a black iPhone note or a blank blog post, but knowing what I want to write before I open my journal / iPhone notes / blog allows me to start thinking about it and planning ahead. You could write about a ton of different things including: goals, dreams, daily / weekly / monthly recaps, things you’ve learned, tips you want to remember to pass along to others, moments you want to remember for ever or weird / crazy / emotional / unexpected experiences that you’ve had. I also LOVE to journal ideas that I have for blogs, photo ops, Instagram posts and tweets ( yes, I journal my tweets sometimes! ).

▸ Make sure you keep it private if you need to:
I was super hesitant to start a blog because I was afraid of people finding out about it. To be honest, I haven’t told many friends or even my family because right now, I’m fine sharing my thoughts & life with strangers but not with people I know. The same goes for my journal. I have it on the bottom of my bedside table and nobody ever goes in it. My journal is definitely more private and I would HATE if someone found out about it, so I make sure that my journal is a me-thing only. If you’re writing about personal things that you don’t wish to share, make sure you keep your journal in a safe space.

▸ Consistency:
Hold yourself accountable. If you skip journaling night once, you’re bound to do it again & again, and all of a sudden you’ve missed 5 times that you had planned to journal so you give up. It’s just like anything that you do, you need to be consistent and hold yourself accountable. If you realize that journaling isn’t for you, by all means stop, but if you enjoy it, CONTINUE. Make time for it. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time out of your day – just make sure you do it!

▸ Finally, just put your pen to paper:
There’s no better tip to end on. If you feel as though you have writer’s block, doodle. Write something that you’ve experienced before, write about a time you traveled to a new city, write about your wildest night out drinking with your girls, write about how happy you were on Christmas when you got the present you had always wanted. Just write about something. It doesn’t always have to be planned and thought out.

Do any of you keep journals? Are there any tips & tricks that I’ve missed? I feel like there has to be some of you out there that share my love for writing!

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