The Art of Journaling

Girl is journaling by writing in her notebookJournal writing has many purposes.  Some people enjoy keeping a diary to document daily events, a recent vacation or maybe even the process of learning a new skill.  Journaling can be a significant aid in making changes in one’s life.  There is a benefit in writing down things that keep track of how an event occurred, how we felt during a situation or worries that preoccupy our mind.

Writing in a journal allows us to document how we feel right now and what we want to remember later.  Journaling can act as a reminder about how we want to handle a future situation, and can be an aid in future decision making.  Keeping a journal helps us notice patterns in our lives as we review similarities in different situations.

How to Keep a Journal

Although there are no formal rules on journaling, here are strategies that can assist with keeping a journal.  I write in a small-sized notebook that I can take with me and jot down ideas as they come to mind.  I use a notebook that has lined, acid-free pages and has a sturdy cover.   I also like to use a pen with permanent ink so that the writing won’t fade over time.  Your writing is an art form, that is an expression of your inner thoughts.  And, you choose who reads the entries.

The following questions are designed to help you begin the journaling process.  In this case, we are identifying patterns in your daily life.  You may choose to identify ways that you are building a skill set for work or handling another responsibility in your life.  How are you monitoring your progress, and what situations provide the best use of this skill set?  How can you continue to improve?

Getting Started

Here is an exercise that will help you develop your journal-writing skills.  When you make an entry, document the situation or event, record the date, the time and the place. For each journal entry, answer the following 5 questions;

  1. Identify an incident or event that you wish to journal and why?
  2. What happened (describe in detail) and how did you feel as this occurred?
  3. How did you respond to the event?
  4. What might you like to change in this occurrence?
  5. What do you need to learn to help with managing such events?

A Week Later

If you are faithful in making entries for at least one week, you will start to find that patterns do emerge.  After a week of journaling, review your entries and answer the following questions:

  1. What situations brought you the most satisfaction and why. Is there a pattern to discover?
  2. Do you find that you have a time when you are performing at your best?
  3. Is there a skill set that doesn’t fit with your life style or work situation that you feel you cannot master? Why?
  4. Do you find yourself working better with a specific person on a project? Why?
  5. Did you discover aspects about yourself during this process that can inform future decisions that you make?

What Did You Find?

People who learn how to keep a journal are often surprised at what they find and discover certain daily patterns that need to be addressed.  Time management, goal setting, and learning to say “no” are often areas that people need to improve.  What patterns did you uncover in your journal writing?

Download The Art of Journaling as a pdf


Dr. Ann Gatty is president of Strategic People Solutions, a business consulting firm, helping businesses add value-assets to their businesses. For the past twenty years she and her husband, Gene, have been providing leadership development programs, business implementation strategies, and solving HR employment issues. Ann has recently created The Business Sphere of Excellence® a strategic business planning model used to construct annual and long range business plans helping businesses run more efficiently and profitably. Dr. Ann Gatty is an expert in understanding and improving the workplace culture which is fundamental for implementing any successful strategic initiatives. In order to better explain the importance of employee engagement, Ann partners with Beretta, her Great Dane therapy dog to present her key findings.
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