Why You Should Add Journaling to Your Mindfulness Practice

As I thought about what has helped me enter this focus of mindfulness, one tool came to mind almost instantly: journaling. We've chatted quite a bit about journaling lately, but of all the different mindful practices I've tried and incorporated into my life, journaling still proves to be the most beneficial. How can journaling help with mindfulness? Click through to continue reading+ download the FREE mindfulness worksheets
 

The past few years, I've chosen a word of the year to focus on and drive my goals for that year. This year, 2016, I chose mindfulness as my word. Back in January, I wrote a post introducing the basics of mindfulness and how I was already able to implement this word into my daily life. I mentioned mindfulness was quickly having a positive influence on my life, and that hasn't changed. Even though we're just past the first quarter of 2016, mindfulness has worked its way into my personal goals, my home management, my author platform, my passion projects, and, of course, my focus for eltscott.com.

As I thought about what has helped me enter this focus of mindfulness, one tool came to mind almost instantly: journaling. We've chatted quite a bit about journaling lately, but of all the different mindful practices I've tried and incorporated into my life, journaling still proves to be the most beneficial.

How can journaling help with mindfulness?

STAY IN THE PRESENT

I used to be that girl who was always so busy looking three steps ahead, I'd forget to look down where I was actually walking.

This was a typical conversation for me each evening:

  • Husband: How was your day.
  • Me: Good.
  • Husband: Yeah? What did you do?
  • Me: ....

How could I not know what I did that day? How could I have been doing all day long, yet come evening, felt as though the day had simply passed me by, and I really wasn't sure what I had done that day?

What I realized was I was simply going through the motions. I was doing things for the sake of doing them, but I wasn't paying attention to how my time was spent or why I was spending time on specific tasks.

 

Do you know your WHY? Do you know your day's priorities? (<<< tweet that!)

 

Bullet journaling in particular helped me stay in the present. (Like most things, I put my own spin on bullet journaling, but if you want to know the "official" way to use a bullet journal check out bulletjournal.com). Bullet journaling is an organization and task management system that lends itself to being adaptable to other styles of journaling. What helped me stay in the present was using my journal to keep track of my time. As I wrote down and prioritized each task, I became much more aware of what the purpose of each day was and how I wanted to spend each day.

I still look ahead. I need to in order to stay on top of deadlines and set goals for myself, but by journaling, I've learned to also live in and appreciate the moment.

 

 

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT

Journaling helps you know what you want. How many things do you do each day that you just don't need to do?

Until a few weeks ago, I was spending two hours a week scheduling Twitter posts. Just the scheduling part was taking two hours. Engaging with my community on Twitter was another thing, but Two. Hours? Just to schedule? And then I looked at the analytics. My Twitter engagement only increased when I was active on Twitter engaging with others. Read as: Twitter chats, not schedule posts, were helping me grow my audience.

Analytics part two: Even Facebook (Facebook! for crying out loud...a social media platform I put little effort into) was bringing in twice as many readers to eltscott.com than Twitter. Read as: 2 hours scheduling Twitter posts = X and 0 hours scheduling Facebook posts = 2X. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of math, but even I could see there was a problem.

Scheduling posts for Twitter every single week was something I'd been doing for months. And I didn't like it. And I didn't want to do it. Journaling helped me realize the amount of time I was spending on Twitter wasn't something I wanted to do anymore.

The next question I asked myself: "Do I want to stop using Twitter?" My answer: No. I like Twitter for the community, but I do not like wasting time scheduling posts when doing so isn't growing my community or newsletter.

Now, would I have come to this conclusion about Twitter without journaling? Maybe, maybe not. But I do know without journaling, I would currently be using the same Twitter strategies I was using a month ago (e.g. walking in place, getting nowhere).

 

Without journaling, I would currently be using the same Twitter strategies I was using a month ago. (<<< tweet this!)

 

I don't care that I have the same number of hours a day that Beyoncé has because I do everything myself, and no, I can't do it all every day. Odds are you can't do it all every day either. Every day, we have to make the tough decision about what can be accomplished today. We only have so much time; what are we going to do with that time?

DEFINE YOUR WHY

In “A Guide to Mindfulness” I mentioned the Why question was a huge part of incorporating mindfulness into my life. But asking, "why?" isn't enough. You have to take it a couple steps further. First, you need to answer the initial why.

  • Why do I want to write this novel?
  • Why do I want to spend time designing my website?
  • Why am I using Facebook as part of my social media platform?
  • Why do my readers want to learn about journaling?

Second, after you answer the first why, you need to ask, why again and again and again.

  • Why do I want to write this novel?
    • Because I think the story is interesting and I think readers will find it interesting too.
      • WHY?
        • Well..because the main character is X and is facing X.
          • WHY?
            • Because ...
              • WHY?

I could keep going, but I think you get the gist of it. Every time you answer why, ask why again. Yeah, that might remind you of a three-year-old who can manage to ask "Why?" five-hundred time in less than ten minutes, but chances are your first response, your first answer, isn't good enough. And by good enough, I mean deep enough.

You need to push your mind, your soul, and your heart into thinking harder about why, really, really WHY?

 

Mindfulness + Journaling tip: Every time you answer Why, ask Why again. (<<< tweet that!)

 

If you're not sure this can actually work, I challenge you to give it a try. I won't be surprised if you:

  • Discover you are currently doing things that have no real value.
  • Are able to narrow down your niche/focus even further.
  • Realize you've been targeting the wrong audience for the past six months.
  • Or create and set new goals for yourself.

Identifying your specific WHY is the heart of mindfulness, and journaling will lead you straight to the answer.

TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

A key element to mindfulness is taking a step back to reflect, acknowledge, and be by yourself. The great thing about journaling is it allows you to do all three of these things.

Journaling on a regular basis gives you an opportunity to reflect on your current situation. It might be a current event, emotion, or problem you are facing. It might be a current achievement or win you want to record and celebrate. And in this reflection, we are also aware of what is happening to us, what moment we are in, and what we are feeling.

A mistake I made when I first started journaling was only journaling once a month (if that). The problem? I had so much I wanted to write about from the month, that most of the journal entry was spent on logging what had happened to me over the course of the month. And as such, the anger I had felt at a teacher or the fear I had about redoing a presentation at the beginning of the month wasn't important anymore. Why?

Because those emotions and experiences had happened too long ago. It's not surprising that the same fears continued to show up time and time again because I didn't deal with them in the moment.

Journaling in the heart of a moment is what helps you 1) understand and 2) push through.

Finally, journaling has helped me practice mindfulness by giving me at least twenty minutes a day to myself. So much noise floods our lives every day, but when I journal, the noise is gone, I am alone for a time, and all I have to do is think and write. For those twenty minutes, nothing else matters. Deadlines don't matter. Phone calls that need to be made don't matter. Email doesn't matter.

In a very real way, journaling is like meditating, and the time I have to focus on who I am and what I want each day is what's made mindfulness such a huge part of my life.

 

 

How often do you journal right now? What has journaling done for you?