How to Write and Keep a Journal to Help Improve Your Personal Productivity

If you’ve ever been in the presence of somebody who keeps a journal, you’ll already be well-aware of the many benefits that they have probably described to you countless times before. Some say it changes your life; some say it helps keep those stress levels low and those happy moods more frequent.

However, whether you’re a sceptic or not, have you ever considered the wonders that keeping a journal could have in terms of your productivity? As a place to keep your thoughts, feelings, emotions, dreams and worries, keeping a journal can help you unwind and vent. However, they are incredibly helpful at helping you to set goals and challenges, resulting in a dramatically boosted productive mindset.

If this sounds like something you want, whether it’s going to help you on a personal project or moving up in your own career, here’s everything you need to know to achieve this for yourself!

Keeping a To-Do List

One of the most important aspects of being productive is being prepared and organised. And what better way is there to achieve this than creating a to-do list? Not only are you making sure that you don’t forget anything in your day, but you’re also actively prioritising your work. This means you’ll know exactly what you’ve got to do and when.

By writing your to-do list down in your journal, whether it’s work-related or personal, you can easily see everything you have to do. It’s far more rewarding when you start crossing items off the list and watching it drop to a point where you’ve completed everything.

If you want any more information on how to create compelling and informative to-do lists, check out the Bullet Journal system.

Setting Goals

One of the most important aspects of being productive is setting goals for you to meet and achieve. When you’re swimming, you could say ‘I’m going to swimming underwater for as long as I can.’ This is great as you’ll try and push yourself.

To get specific, if you say ‘I’m going to swim two lengths underwater’, this is a goal, and you’ll know exactly what you need to do to achieve this. Now apply this concept to every aspect of your life, and you’ll see a dramatic spike in your productivity.

By writing down these goals in your journal, whether they’re daily goals, monthly goals or even yearly goals, you’re helping to instill these goals into your mind, making you far more likely to achieve what you set out to do.

Releasing All Your Stress and Worries

It’s safe to say that not every day is going to be a good day. After all, if every day was good then every day would be average. But that doesn’t mean that we need to let the bad days get on top of us. When you have a day that’s filled with stress and worry, try jotting down these feelings and emotions into your journal.

Always remember that your journal is a private place where you can get some much-needed headspace so use it as a place to vent. And there’s so much to vent about. Sometimes, something bad has happened that was your fault, something that you had no control of or maybe you’re just simply feeling a bit down. Whatever has happened, write it down in your journal to get that weight off your shoulders so you can pick yourself up and move forward.

A Place to Inspire and Motivate Yourself

If you’re starting out with this entire journaling process, it’s easy to think negatively about it as a lot of pent up anger, and stress can be vented to the first few couple of pages. However, your journal doesn’t have to be a place where only negative thoughts and feelings have to go.

Whether you’re browsing your Instagram feed, hear someone in the street, or a thought simply pops into your head, inspirational quotes are everywhere, you’ve just got to keep your eyes and ears open to them.

Seen or heard one that you want to remember forever? Simply jot it down in your journal to be referred to at any time! Better yet, have a dedicated couple of pages just for quotes so you can quickly turn to them when you need them!

Self-Criticising for Improvement

The best way to improve your productivity on a long-term basis is to analyse your performance on a daily or weekly basis so you can see exactly where you’re falling short and where you can improve. This will help you to congratulate yourself on the things you’ve done well and point out areas where you’re not happy with yourself.

To achieve this goal, it’s a great idea to analyze how you spent your day by breaking it down into sections. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What did I do today?
  • What did I do well in today?
  • What could I improve on tomorrow?
  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • And other aspects of your day to day life.

Remember that the way you treat your body plays a huge role on how productive you are. This means you need to make sure you comment on how much water you’re drinking, what kind of diet you’re consuming and your sleeping patterns. It’s also highly recommended that you make a note on how productive you feel throughout the day for future reference and clarification.

Note this all down in your journal for future references, and you’ll be able to improve your life day by day to results that will make you feel unstoppable!

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Starting Your Journal

Now, you may be thinking, these are all good points, but where are you supposed to start with something like this? Well, firstly, you’re going to need to get yourself a journal (affiliate link).

It can be tempting to use your phone or your computer, which is fine, but it’s highly recommended that you invest in a dedicated paperbook. This is because writing with a pen on paper can provide some rather therapeutic properties.

To feel all the benefits, you’ll want to aim to write every day. Of course, most of us have very busy lifestyles where this might not always be possible, but if you can sit on Facebook for over an hour a day, I’m sure you can spend five minutes writing in a journal.

Start off small if you like and try and aim for ten minutes of writing a day or 500 words, which you can track using Easy Word Count. This can be built up over time when you start to develop the habit.

It might be difficult to find things to write about, to begin with, especially if you’ve never done anything like this before. However, there’s no need to worry, simply write whatever comes to mind. The more you practice, the more you’ll discover what you enjoy writing about.

If you haven’t written anything in a long time, you may find your actual writing skills have weakened, but this will get better over time. For help with this, check out My Writing Way and refer to the way that the articles are written in a nice, easy to understand format. Or check out writing blogs like Academadvisor and contact the live chat advisors for advice.

Being Observant in Everyday Life

One of the most surprising yet beneficial traits that you’ll pick up from journaling is how much more focused and observant you become in everyday life. This is because you’ll be writing about things that have happened, things people have said and thoughts that randomly pop into your head.

Since you’ll develop the mindset of writing it down later, you’ll become a lot more present with what’s going on around you, rather than living your life with your head in the clouds.

In terms of productivity, you’ll notice that you’ve become a lot more focused on what you’re doing, therefore enabling you to achieve more in the hours that you have.


Keeping a journal doesn’t have to be a spiritual thing that people overflowing with emotions keep under their pillows. Instead, you can adapt the process to meet exactly what you want in life so you can get the best out of it every step of the way.

About the author: Gloria Kopp is a personal coach at Bigassignments. She regularly contributes articles to Engadget, Engaging Volunteers and Oxessays blogs. Besides, Gloria is an author of Studydemic blog for international students and educators.

Header photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

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