Journaling is a cheap and effective method to help boost mindfulness, but there are other health benefits to writing down your thoughts that are actively being studied, from a stronger immune system and better sleep to reduced blood pressure, improved mood and more confidence.
Anyone can unlock these benefits with a simple pen and paper and a bit of time. But if you want to upgrade your journaling habits, here are two journaling ‘systems’ for you to check out.
1. Bullet Journal
Bullet Journal is a structured way to organise your thoughts that tons of people swear by. It was invented by Brooklyn-based digital designer Ryder Carroll, who has called it a ‘mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system’ that helps you ‘go from passenger to pilot of your own life’.
Ryder’s attention would always dart off to the next shiny thing, he says in his book The Bullet Journal Method: Track Your Past, Order Your Present, Plan Your Future. ‘As I cycled through distractions, my responsibilities steadily piled up until they became overwhelming.’ Through trial and error, he says, he gradually pieced together a system in an old-school, regular notebook, he says. ‘It was a cross between a planner, diary, notebook, to-do list and sketchbook.’ The system worked – and after sharing the techniques with colleagues and friends, he formalised the methodology and called it Bullet Journal.
This system breaks down the note-taking process into a scheme that Ryder calls ‘rapid logging’. Entries (called bullets) are classified into categories: as either tasks, notes, or events, each of which is represented by its own symbol – either a dot, circle or dash. Bullets are written in ‘collections’ or types of pages: Future Log, Monthly Log and Daily Log. An Index is required to keep track of the various page numbers as well.
The goal is a system whereby your thoughts can be quickly written, filed and found again. It also forces you to consider the importance of every note and, says Ryder, ‘live an intentional life, one that’s both productive and meaningful’. One can use a blank notebook and set it up in a Bullet Journal way, or buy a specially made one designed by Ryder.
Journaling is a cheap and effective method to help boost mindfulness, but there are other health benefits to writing down your thoughts that are actively being studied, from a stronger immune system to improved mood.
2. The Five Minute Journal
The Five Minute Journal is a journaling system created by Intelligent Change, a company that creates books, planners and tools to be more productive and happy. The journal is hailed by productivity experts like Tim Ferriss, who says it’s one of the simplest and more consistent ways he has found to boost his wellbeing and happiness – ‘both in terms of achievement and actual measurable, quantifiable results’.
As for the nitty-gritty, The Five Minute Journal is a structured way of organising your thoughts upon waking up and going to bed. Each morning, you’re posed three simple questions in the first moments after you wake up, and each night before bed you’ll reflect on the day’s positive experiences, and focus on how to make tomorrow even better. It’s for emphasising things such as gratitude, daily affirmations, end-of-day reflections, and highlighting good things that happened that day.
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