The Secret of 5-Minute Journaling

Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way (among many other books) spends each morning handwriting three pages of whatever is on her mind. She’s done it for years and she references it as the reason why she’s able to write and work and create without ‘blocks.’

The way she does it is to write and write and write about whatever is on your mind whether it’s how frustrated you are at the boss, the excitement you feel about picking up the new dress or the reminder to pick up cat food or recording the bizarre dream about the neighbors that you had last night.

I use journaling to process what I’m going through and I find it especially useful for when I feel stuck or feel frustrated or feel angry at someone and I don’t want to spread gossip or talk about them to someone else.

Journals don’t tell your secrets! They’re very, very trustworthy. And they don’t mind if I rip up the pages afterwards.

Most days though…..

I don’t feel like journaling.

And I certainly don’t feel like writing for 3 pages (more power to you, Julia!)

It takes energy and effort. Journaling can feel too hard at night when vegetating in front of a show or with a book or magazine feels easier (and is!).

Sometimes journaling is like running. I don’t always like the actual running part of running. I like knowing afterwards that I ran! It’s great to hit the final stretch in a run, knowing that it’s helping me get stronger, stay healthy and burn off the calories of the hot tamales I’ll be eating later!

That’s how journaling is too. I appreciate the memories I’ve kept and the processing I’ve done in my journal later on.

The 5 Minute Journal Process

One of the ways I get around the long handed form of journaling is through bullet journaling. Last night, I grabbed the journal, made a bunch of slashes and wrote down what I’d done during the day. I’ve been tracking some projects in my journal.

After I jotted those items down (it took all of three minutes, maybe) I added a few sentences of what was going on.

That took 2 minutes.

All of these things will be forgotten in a week’s time, but since I wrote them down, they’ll stay with me much longer.

And it only required 5 minutes of my time.

What You Need

It’s essential that you make this EASY on yourself.

  1. Keep your journal near the space where you wake up and go to bed.
  2. Have a pen nearby too (otherwise, it’s too tempting to just go to sleep).
  3. Keep the goal small and doable: three minutes to create your list (what you’re thankful for, ideas for Christmas gifts, list of ideas for a get-together with friends, what was done, etc). and 2 minutes to jot down something you want to remember.
  4. Journal the same thing for at least a week (preferably 3 weeks). Your brain will start to “look” for things to recognize and journal. So, if the goal is to capture what you are achieving each day, you’ll start looking for things to achieve and actually doing them (so you can write them down!) If you are looking for everyday gifts to write down, your brain will start looking for those gifts. I’ve done this and it really does work.

That’s it! Do this for a week! It’s so fun to see the entries add up.

Our brains are muscles and like every other muscle, it takes gets stronger and more efficient when we exercise it. It really starts to get fun when we see the accumulation of entries.

Be really gracious with yourself during the process. Journaling twice a week is way more than zero times a week! Each week is fresh to start again.

If you’d like more ideas for prompts, I’ve included a list of 13 prompts in a pdf. Sign up in the box and they’ll be delivered to your inbox 🙂

Prefer pictures?

One of the ways I collect memories is through creating Joyful Journals. These are rather large projects I do a few times a year.

BUT, an easy way to create a 5 minute entry without a lot of words is to print pictures from your phone, cut them out and use a gluestick or tape to adhere them to your journal.

Then, write a few words down: the date, the people in the picture (if it’s a group picture), feelings associated with the picture.

That’s it.

To make this easier, batch the printing. Print out several pictures and you’ll have them to stick in your journal a few times a week. Right now the memories and feelings are fresh. It’s amazing how quick we will forget many of the precious memories.

One of my favorite ways to look back over a year is to pull out the pictures I’ve taken and put in a journal. They haven’t got “lost” in my phone (or heaven forbid, lost if the phone got lost or the backup doesn’t go through. The not-so-bright part of tech!).

The beauty of journaling is that it is a personal chronicle of your life. It’s a look at your life and what is most important to you, what made you and I stop and think about it for a few minutes.

Do you journal? If so, what’s your favorite kind of journaling? Bullet journaling or longhand? Maybe you use pictures or prefer creating a junk journal for memories (more on that coming soon!)

Would love to connect with you.  Say ‘hi’ over at Instagram @melissauclair

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