Over the last few years, I had several starts and stops with journaling. It has been a valuable practice when I have engaged. But I have struggled with keeping it as a discipline.
When I first attempted journaling, I would focus on my daily Bible readings. This was good and was always applicable. More recently, I have expanded my journaling practice. Not only do I focus on my Bible readings, but I also journal about what I am accomplishing and what I am planning.
I use an app called the Day One Journal on my iPhone and iPad. It is also available as a Mac App. Day One will sync between all my devices so that I can write using whichever device I prefer or is most convenient at the time.
I have a Text Expander Snippet that lays out the outline for my journal. Text Expander is a great little service that allows you generate frequently used text, with just a few keystrokes. For example, I can type “;em” to generate my email address. I can type “;ph” and it will generate my phone number. When I journal I will type “;jt” and it will generate the questions for my journal. Below you will see the outline for my daily journal.
Daily Review Journal Entry
What did I do yesterday?
This is a diary of sorts. I make a list of the activities of the previous day. It helps me think through what I experienced and what important take-a-ways I might want to write about in my journal or blog. If I have a picture from the previous day, I might add the picture as a memory.
What did I read recently?
I make a list of the books that I read since I last journaled. This might include Bible readings. I also write down anything that I learned from my reading.
What lessons did I learn?
This is similar to the previous question, but I consider what lessons I learned, not just from what I read, but also from what I experienced. Were there good things that happened the previous day that I want to repeat? Were there bad things that happened that I want to avoid?
What am I thankful for right now?
I just make a list of whatever comes to mind. Gratitude is important to having a positive outlook. It is easy to get down and lose sight of everything I have to be grateful for. Gratitude motivates and inspires us to do more.
How am I feeling right now?
I tend not to be an emotional person. I am more analytical. But this question helps me to get more in touch with my emotions. I consider if I am feeling motivated or inspired. Maybe I am troubled by circumstances. While I am a person who tries to suppress my emotions, I realize that they greatly affect my productivity. The more in touch I am with this part of myself, the better I am able to understand why I may be succeeding or failing.
Considering the things I have written about, I talk to God about all that is on my mind. I list prayers for others. Anything that comes to mind I will put before his throne. This is often the longest section in my journal.
What are my plans for today?
I make a list of everything I have to on the given day. This may include work, family, or exercise. I get it all written down here and then transfer it over to my to-do list.
What one thing must I accomplish today?
Looking at the list of all the things I must get done, I will choose one thing that I must get done. This is the one thing that if I did nothing else, I would need to make this happen. This is so I know what is the one most important thing I must focus on. It is the first thing I will work on when I have the most energy and focus.
What are your thoughts?
Do you keep a journal? If so, what does it look like? Do you have any tips or tricks for those who might struggle with this discipline.