How To Journal For Focus, Consistency, and Stress Reduction

Journaling Post

Throughout this quarantine I have come to find that on days I journal I feel more focused and less stressed. Having kept a journaling practice for five years now, which has taken many different formats along the way, I have consistently turned back to one framework that works best for me. I hope one or more of these ideas will prove useful for you. 

The Framework:

  • Morning
    • Focus (intention)
    • Consistency (goal setting)
  • Evening
    • Stress Reduction (reflection & gratitude)

Focus

In the morning while my coffee is brewing I like to have an audio-book playing in the background. Right now I’m re-listening to Stillness Is The Key, by Ryan Holiday. It is usually some form of philosophy that is the first thing going into my brain in the morning, whether that is an audio-book (usually one of these six) or text (think of Meditations, Tao Te Ching, or The Daily Stoic). 

Usually inspired by one of these works I write down one or two intentions for the day. A philosophy or idea I want to focus on embodying. 

Consistency

Every three months I take my larger goals (consider The Path if you need help with long term goals), and break them down into quarterly goals, which then gets written down on an index card and becomes the new background of my phone for the next 3 months. This next step is very simple; I pull up my phone, take a look at my goals, and write down 1-5 actions I am going to take to move closer to my quarterly goals. 

Stress Reduction

This last step I would do occasionally in the pre-COVID-19 world, but has become a more important part of my routine during quarantine. At the end of the day I will pull out my journal, check off what I actually did to move closer to my goals, reflect on how I can improve on my intention, jot down some moments from work that may still be rattling around in my head, and write down 3 things I am grateful for. I find on days when I do this, even though I’m not traveling to an office, I’m better able to leave work “at work” and rest more soundly. 

 

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