How Daily Journaling Can Boost Your Focus and Clarity

When you were a kid, you probably kept a diary hidden somewhere in your room. Diary entries were a place to confess your struggles and fears without any judgment or punishment. And it felt good to get the thoughts and feelings out of your head and down on paper. The world made more sense that way.

Many people stop journaling when they reach adulthood, but the concept and its positive benefits still apply. Simply giving voice to emotions and problems can help defuse their power and allow you to improve your mental health in the process.

Here's how journaling helps boost your focus and clarity:

  1. It will clarify your thoughts. Jotting down your thoughts and feelings in free form may help you understand how you're feeling.

  2. You will understand yourself better. You will uncover aspects of your daily life that you may not have realized or noticed otherwise.

  3. It will reduce your stress. Journaling can help you release the intensity of difficult emotions and help you feel calmer.

  4. It will help with problem-solving. Reflection and expressive writing may help you get an understanding that you already have the solution you're looking for.

  5. It will resolve conflicts. Writing about disagreements with others provides insight into their thoughts and feelings and helps resolve conflicts.

How to Get the Most Out of Journaling

Journaling doesn't merely need to be the act of taking pen to paper and jotting down the mundane events of your day. You can enhance your journaling practice by approaching it mindfully and making a habit of it while also ensuring that the journaling approach you choose is the right one for you.

Here’s some advice on how to get the most out of it:

1. Use pen and paper to capture your thoughts and feelings

When you're writing something by hand, areas in the brain responsible for thinking, language, memory, and muscle movement are all activated at the same time which stimulates and engages your brain better, making it easier to retain information.

Another benefit of handwriting is the lack of online distractions—no need for input from the outside world. Status updates. E-mails. Different fonts. Music. It's just you.

2. Use the Two-Minute Rule

The Two-Minute Rule states that a new habit should take less than two minutes to complete. Why two minutes? In most cases, the longer an action takes and the more energy it requires, the less likely it will occur.

So, if you don't feel like journaling, promise yourself you'll try it for 2 minutes and, if you don't want to keep going, you'll stop.

The important thing is to show up for yourself and to be consistent. Over time, this technique will help make your goal more achievable.

Pro tip: Track your journaling habit

Use a habit-tracking app or mark your calendar for every day you write in your mindfulness journal, even if only for 2 minutes. You’ll probably notice how rewarding it is to see those marks at the end of every month.

3. Take your time

Treat the time that you spend keeping a journal as an investment in your well-being rather than a distractor. Taking time to journal is taking time for yourself.

Try to resist the instinct to rush through it, especially at times when you're busy, because journaling may save you both time and stress by clearing your mind and clarifying your thoughts.

And once it becomes a habit, it won't take too much discipline. You'll probably do it instinctively rather than struggle to make time for it.

4. Choose the best approach and journal prompts for you

There's no right or wrong way to journal, but there are different structures and journal examples you should probably consider:

The gratitude journal: Write about something you're grateful for.

The gratitude journal may be a transformative habit in both your career and personal life. A series of three studies conducted by Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough found that participants who wrote about things they were grateful for scored significantly higher on several self-reported emotional and physical measures.

Compared with control participants, the people keeping the gratitude journal were more optimistic and felt happier. They reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out.

A challenge for you: Think of the worst thing that happened in recent times. Then, try to write down ten reasons why you feel grateful for that. This practice is a great way to look at the situation from a different perspective.

The goal journal: Whether it's things you need to get done at work or places you want to be in 10 years, committing your goals to paper could be the first step in your path to achieving them.

Here are some journal prompts, questions, and ideas to explore in your goal journal:

  • Make a list of all of the things you would like to learn, and then create a plan for learning them.

  • What scares you the most, and why? How can you use that fear to improve or learn or grow?

  • How would your life change if you were your own biggest fan and truly believed in yourself?

  • What three things could you give up that would give you more time, energy, and peace?

Pro tip: Before you go to sleep each day, set aside some time to write a list of things you hope to accomplish the next day. Look through the tasks the following morning. This will give you the motivation you need to get out of bed and start your day productively.

The morning pages: Put down whatever swirling